For Wearable Computing, Software Must Be King

For Wearable Computing, Software Must Be King


MAY 7, 2014, 4:25 PM 14 Comments

Over the last few years, we have heard that there will be wearable devices for almost every part of the body, from face to feet. But people have paid little attention to the software that accompanies these gadgets.

Forrester Research, the market research firm, is noting in a coming book that in this new era of computing, software will have profound effects on the way consumers engage with wearable computers.

“Success of wearables will not hinge on the hardware alone,” said a Forrester analyst, Julie A. Ask. “In fact, some of the data — such as steps — has become commoditized given the number of sources and ease of access. Success will hinge on the associated mobile apps and how effective they are in changing behavior through the right data, insights and recommended actions in consumers’ mobile moments.”

Ms. Ask is one of the co-authors of the new book, “The Mobile Mind Shift,” along with Ted Schadler and Josh Bernoff, both Forrester analysts. It is set to be released on June 24. The book is based on 200 interviews with entrepreneurs and companies around the globe and explores how mobile software will continue to change business in the future.

The book comes on the heels of a number of recent reports from Forrester that outline the current state of wearable computers — especially as they relate to people’s health goals.

“From wrist bands to smart pills, firms are using mobile technologies to collect new kinds of data about consumers, crunch it in the cloud, and then employ a mix of engagement tactics on mobile devices to spur consumers into action — and create mobile moments,” a February report said, outlining how health care will be affected by coming technologies and software.

While new hardware might be more exciting for consumers, Forrester says that software is the key to helping companies create a connection with their customers, offering the ability to analyze the masses of data that come from wearables.

“These wearable devices will fail to be effective and people will toss them aside if there isn’t a good service layer that goes with them,” Ms. Ask said in a phone interview. “The devices have to be able to walk a fine line between being invisible enough that you want to wear them all the time, but also being effective enough that you engage with them.”

There are a few examples where the focus on software has worked effectively. MyFitnessPal, a diet and exercise app, has helped people lose more than 100 million pounds since it began in 2005, according to the company’s website.

RunKeeper, used to track runs, has enticed people to run 783 million miles. And the makers of the Jawbone Up wristband have logged 35 million nights of sleep from customers.

In all of these instances, software played a pivotal role with the consumer, helping create a connection with the app, not just the hardware slapped around the wrist.

Ms. Ask noted that companies were experimenting with how they interacted with customers by offering different personas within mobile apps. For example, Nike’s software pushes people to be incredibly competitive, awarding badges and other trophies if they beat previous goals. Jawbone’s software is more gentle, pushing people along and telling them they are approaching their daily exercise goals.

“I can start out being excited because I am tracking steps or getting some data from a wearable device, but it’s the engagement within the software that is going to make me want to continue using these products,” Ms. Ask said.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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