Even before Google Glass appeared, numerous companies were looking into the possibilities offered by wearable computing technology, especially for the eyes. Since it appeared, the race has speeded up. Each new device has its own angle – its own area in which it insists it is the best. The big claim by newcomer Icis is that it has the most style.
To the average technology enthusiast, this might not sound very exciting; however, to those who are familiar with the marketing business, its relevance should be clear. Once devices such as this flood the mainstream market – once there is real choice – fashion will come into play just as it does in other areas. There are, after all, plenty of people out there who chose Macs over PCs purely because they were available in bright colors. A product with strong market appeal of its own, whatever this appeal hinges on, inevitably has more potential as a platform for marketing the work of others.
What is ironic about this is that Icis may well be a better product than Google Glass at a technical level, but its designers do not see this as its most marketable asset; the public may not grasp its design potential, or may not do so as quickly. Icis certainly has an interesting interface, eliminating the corner screen approach that may distract people from looking where they are going; instead, it uses peripheral vision to display information so that users will be aware of the real world and the virtual world at the same time, without one interfering with the other.
Icis is just out of development and is still trying to raise the funds to go into production, but if it or something else using the same approach proves successful in the mass market, what will marketers need to know in order to use it successfully? The first thing to be aware of is the different purpose of peripheral vision. It evolved to detect movement around us – for instance, to warn of predators sneaking up – and it involves mostly rod cells, with few of the cones that provide color information coming into play. This means that movement and pattern become more important in arresting the attention than conventional marketing imagery.
As with other computer eyewear, Icis has the potential to work wonders in local search, attracting shoppers to particular stores as they walk past. The key to marketing success will be working out which particular device appeals to which set of customers so that ads can be effectively positioned.