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Google Glass, iBeacons and smart watches – media hype or game changers? #AdtechANZ

Keynote AdtechANZ: Tomorrow’s Technology Today: Google Glass, iBeacons and smart watches – are they media hype or game changers?


Josh Guest, the Managing Director of  b2cloud started Day 2 with his keynote about technology in the future.  Josh began the presentation by taking a photo of the audience through Google Glass.

Josh talked about the experience he had with mobile phones from his first phone to the launch on the app store 4 to 5 years ago.  The app store allowed third party developers to build apps and be marketed through this store.  At this time Josh saw the opportunity and started building apps.

Apps are a way to make customer’s lives easier and almost 5 years on, b2cloud as a business has been able to build some of the most beautiful user experiences on the mobile.

There are three ways a business provide services on the devices the customer is going to be using

1. Apps

This is the foundation for all

2. iBeacons

3. Wearables

1. Apps

Businesses have had 4 – 5 years to get apps right.  Some companies have done a good job, while others have not been able to keep up.  Some of the failings of apps is where companies release an app that is promotional, it is available in the apps and then customers are on board and then the app is taken off the app store.

In 2014 the trend of building short shelf life apps are not the right way to go.

1) User Experience

Some are websites are wrapped into an app without any thought about the UX within the app.  But by doing this, customers can easily see the company has invested little time in the app. The UX of an app has to be excellent and customers should be able to navigate their way easily through the app.

2) Notifications

Google and Apple override this because app owners have taken this too far. In 2014 the challenge will be “How do we provide more relevant and useful notifications to the customers, so they want to come back to the app?”

One way to do this is through iBeacon.


iBeacon is a Bluetooth transmitting device.  It transmits a blue tooth signal, is very location and time aware.  When the user receives the notification they are in the right time, right place.  One way to use iBeacon is at a store.  Josh went to the apple store.  He has the apple store app on this phone and receives a greeting which says “How can I help you today?”.  The iBeacon also transmits the message that Josh is second in line and because of the iBeacons, the apple staff know where Josh is located and can come up and speak with him.

iBeacon has the location/GPS sensing which provides a really great experience to the customer.  iBeacons are new, but we do not want to create a situation where every shop a customer walks past, notifies them.  iBeacons should be used responsibly.  It is a very early stage in new technology.  The worst case is that people switch off their blue tooth.

3. Wearables


Disney have invested a billion dollars in “My Magic”, it is a mix between blue tooth and wearables.   Users receive a bracelet when they purchase their Disney pass.  Customers then add all their details to the profile that has been created for them when they purchased their pass.  These details are then uploaded to the bracelet. When users go to the theme park, they then buy products, and food with the bracelet.  When the customer purchases their lunch and then goes to the table to wait for it, the waitress knows where they are sitting (without asking) as there are iBeacons in the restaurant.

Disney can get a lot of data and provide the best experience for the customer from the wearables and the iBeacons   If a restaurant is getting busier they can allocate more staff to serve their custimers   Disney are one of the first to get into this space.

Fitness Tracker

Some of the wearables are not fashionable, however people are sill using them.  Mis Fit Shine (Fitness tracker), it tracks the movement through the day even when sleeping.  It gives some great feedback to the user.

These wearble platforms open up their data.  They allow a third party to connect to this which not many companies are doing.

For example a health insurance company could work with this wearable.  They would have an app that can connect to the wearable which would track how much exercise a  user is doing.  They could then send the wearer a suggestion to see a physio in their area as they may be doing a lot of running.


Payments are changing.  Commonwealth banks allow users to tap and go.  There will be more devices this year on how to make payments.

Smart watches

Smart WatchSmart watches  will become more popular in 2014.  They are not the sexist but they provide an important user case.  The reality is people are buying them now even through not sexy.  It is an extension to your phone.  It provides notifications that get on the phone on your wrist.  Pebble is one of these smart watches and it delivers short time based, snippets of information.

Pebble have also produced an app store.  This means for those who own a Pebble device they can download apps to their watch.  Google are going to provide the Android OS for smart watches.


This is a massive opportunity to connect with customers on a smart watch (on a customer’s wrist).  Location, and time based apps.  Eg YELP.

Google Glass

Google GlassesThis is come game changing stuff even though it is not yet fully ready for commercial purposes.  Josh has been wearing Google Glass for 7 months and he shared with the audience, some of his experiences.

Josh is provided with information based on his time and location (does not have to interact that much).  How to connect with the customers when they are wearing these glasses?

This is a glimpse into the future.  How to engage with this technology when users have it in their hands. Josh shared two main examples of how useful Google Glass have been so far.

There is an app on glass, called “all the cooks” and provides recipes.   It is hands free, providing a seamless experience for the user.  Travelling can be quite stressful.  Is my plane taking off? Do I need to be at the pgate yet? Google Now is on Google Glass and tells Josh when he needs to go to the gate.

What does all this mean?

All this sounds fantastic, so what are we supposed to do? Some companies think we should wait until this device is popular and then jump on board.  But this is a risky move.  When it comes to merging tech eg glasses, fitness trackers, start to experiment.

Don’t build big IT teams for one area.  How do you experiment with different technologies ? Do this in small ways. Build prototypes, start with a small test group.  Trial with customers, get feedback and build on this feedback.  It is all about lots of experiments.

By experimenting, getting it out to a test user group, you will quickly understand if this is something to invest in or  if it is not, find a new piece of technology instead.



Jo Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.
  • Stefan Wolpers

    That is a valid question – I aggregated a lot of thoughts and feedback from interviews into my new deck: “iBeacons – Fad Or Trend? The Use-Cases For Retail And Omni-Channel Solutions”, see: http://bit.ly/1dpskG1