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Opinion: Wearables can complement VR

Yesterday an article on #CuttingEdgeSport argued very cogently that the sport industry should forget wearables and instead the year of 2015 is one of virtual reality. It’s an interesting and well supported argument but my take, based on a couple of current concept projects, is a little different.

Wearables are going to continue to grow as a major technology over the course of this year. As their utility increases I expect a larger segment of the population to be using them for a wide range of purposes, both within sport but also more broadly within the health and well-being markets.

In elite performance, such as the RBS Six Nations, companies like StatSport are already adding real time insights to an individual’s performance.

And so to virtual reality, to my mind an enormous opportunity to enhance the fans experience and take this to new locations, no longer do you especially need to be in a specific location to get a taste of the game or race. Though of course there will always be the far more wide ranging experience of actually being there.

Just imagine, however, experiencing iconic sporting moments such as Grand National in Westfield White City on that Saturday morning or feeling the g-force as you corner at Silverstone. The data collected via wearables informs us of what can be used to deepen the virtual reality experience.

It’s not that wearables and virtual reality do not have a major role in sporting engagement separately, but together they can complement each other, creating a very powerful combination.

The information gleaned from wearables can inform the virtual reality experience – even more so when you look at the development of haptics.

Though personally I am yet to be convinced of the benefit in feeling the physical experience of playing Aussie Rules – as shown by We:eX’s Alert Shirt here.

By blending these brilliant technologies together, there are limitless routes to be explored.

Time will tell.



Location: Why it matters?

I think it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of people who read this article make use of online maps; whether it be Multimap, RAC, Tom Tom, Navteq, Nokia, Bing, Google or Apple, the utility of being able to quickly figure out how to get from point A to B is critical to our daily lives.

As consumers, we often see limited differences between these platforms, yet at the moment there is a race for supremacy in the world of digital cartography that rivals the early days of the exploration of the ‘New World’.

And so, we look at the world in 2013, where the race to map the earth is on. This race is being predominantly led by western technology companies such as Apple, who has acquired two mapping companies over the summer, Google, who spent over $1bn to acquire Waze and Nokia has announced it has increased its focus on HERE.

Let’s not forget about Open Street Map.

With over 1.1m registered users and 3.2bn GPS points it has the power to disrupt and overwhelm more traditional mapping offerings such as Ordnance Survey.

Of course, there is the need for any large company to get time out of our busy schedules, and in Google’s case, to then sell us locally-targeted advertising. Yet on a broader level, maps now have a huge range of potential future applications and aid us in our understanding of the world we live in.

In transport, there is the focus on self guided cars from all the auto manufacturers and also technology companies. Whilst in the USA, the US State Dept has recently published this image, increasing the understanding of the evolution of the Fukushima incident.


But why this sudden interest?

Location, or perhaps more accurately, your location in relation to products and services, is increasingly seen as key to supporting those well worn paths of local & mobile. I recently met with a company that proudly advised me of their ability to sift through huge amounts of personal data, tie it to your current and past location such as proximity to a supermarket and then use this information to serve messages on behalf of a competitor supermarket in the same vicinity. Now this would only work if you understand the propensity of someone to switch supermarkets but, nonetheless, it does illustrate some of the capabilities available to companies who understand the location cookie.

However, as with many things in digital space, the serious question that must be asked is not ‘how do we do it?’, but ‘to what extent are consumers ready or even understand what data they perhaps inadvertently share via apps, mobile networks or social networks?’.

So watch this space! Location information is evolving and growing in sophistication incredibly quickly and, for the moment, is in a fascinating state of flux but the decisions made now by various platforms will have an impact long into the future.

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