One interesting, secondary aspect of wearables is beginning to emerge: they’re helping introduce new levels of technological integration into the home, especially with those that struggled to adopt other tech trends like tablets and high-powered desktop machines. That means that other types of devices are going to be easier to introduce too, with some speculating that “nearables,” could be the next big thing.
Nearables are similar technological products to wearables, but are designed to be placed around your home or place of work, offering simple functions like tracking of certain objects, or giving you basic information on activities. For example, Estimote has developed a small bluetooth sticker, which is around the size of a golf ball. When stuck to a dog’s collar, it can keep track of the little guy’s movements, or you could attach them to the roof of a store to provide information on consumers automatically.
“It’s very early innings. It’s like Bitcoin,” said Estimote’s Steve Cheney. “We think that sensor-based technology and the ability to have your phone scan for objects, you can create value. The question is what is the reoccurring value? Is it walking out without paying? Being able to detect something about your physical environment?”
“Before it was impractical to hide a beacon in a shoe, or attach one to your shoe. Now it becomes pretty practical,” he continued.
Taking the example of shoes a ‘step’ further, Cheney believes that Estimote’s sensors could be placed on products in retail stores. If the product is picked up, information on it such as pricing and sizing options could immediately appear on a nearby display to help the customer make a more informed choice.
These sensors are cheap too, with retail pricing set to be around $100 for 10 of them. This means that applying them to large numbers of products wouldn’t be too costly and they could be retrieved at the point of sale for re-use.
All of this allows for customers to be given more information, without actually having to disclose anything about themselves, which is often a concern with wearables. With nearables, people can get the same sort of interactivity, without the need to affect their personal privacy.
This is also a concept that would be easier to explain to people and perhaps feels like a very logical step for the retail environment to take. What do you guys think? Do you think nearables could catch on as quickly as or perhaps quicker than wearables?[Thanks WP]