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12pc of US consumers interested in wearing sensor eyeglasses: Forrester

Wearable technology is already stirring consumer interest, as long as there is a correlation to a trusted brand and an upfront value, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Forrester?s ?Google Glass: What Marketers Need to Know? report looks at the burgeoning opportunities and implications around wearable technology such as Google Glass. The report suggests that although the technology is still brand-new, brands should begin testing different ways to incorporate the medium into their marketing mixes.

?Marketers should get their hands on a testing unit and start experimenting with concepts for apps,? said Sarah Rotman Epps, analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.

Wearable opportunity
Forrester?s survey results compile answers from more than 4,600 adults in the United States and was conducted in April.

During the first-quarter of 2013, 64 percent of U.S. online consumers said that their primary mobile phone was a smartphone, according to Forrester.

Forrester found that 21.6 of consumers in the study would be open to wearing a device as either as contacts or as eyeglasses. The report refers to this group as ?glass gravitators.?

Per the findings, glass gravitators skew to younger demographics. Roughly half of the group was comprised of consumers aged 18-24 years old or 25-33 years old.

Interestingly, 44 percent of glass gravitators are women, despite the notion that early tech adopters are primarily males.

When asked what form factor they would prefer a wearable device to be in, 29 percent of glass gravitators would want the device to be clipped onto their clothing.

Twenty-eight percent would prefer the device to work on their wrist and 18 percent would want the device clipped to a shoe.

Other areas that consumers could choose from included embedded in jewelry, clothing, as earbuds or tattooed on their skin.

These users also have slightly higher household incomes than the average American. The average household income for a glass gravitator in the study was $83,300 compared to the national $78,700 average.

Not surprisingly, glass gravitators also overindex on mobile ownership. 

Thirty-two percent of glass gravitators owned an iPhone compared to 24 percent of average U.S. online adults. Thirty-five percent of glass gravitators owned an Android device compared to the 27 percent of average U.S. online adults.

Additionally, these consumers said that they were most interested in utility-based applications, such as maps or cameras.

Of a sample group of 657 consumers who said that they would be willing to use a wearable device as either glasses or as contacts, 65 percent said that they would be interested in accessing maps or directions via an app.

Sixty percent of the group wanted to take photos or see information about places that they were walking or traveling nearby to.

Fifty-eight percent of the group wanted to see information about products as they were shopping via a wearable technology, and 31 percent wanted to use their devices to play a game.

Device challenges
Although there are big opportunities to engage with consumers via the devices, they also bring up multiple challenges for marketers.

For instance, Google Glass does not allow third parties to track or share user?s data without their permission. Additionally, advertisements are prohibited within Google Glass.

The prototype version of Google Glass, known as Glass Explorer, also has a short battery life and limits the amount of content that a consumer can record.

Currently, the opportunities with Glass are limited and include basic features such as taking a picture, recording a video or making a voice-activated Google search.

However, the report does outline a few interesting examples of how brands envision using the technology.

For example, HP presented a session at this year?s South by Southwest conference on how Google Glass could be used while fixing printers. Employees would be able to look at manuals on the screen while they made repairs or set up a Google Hangout so that other employees could help solve problems on the spot.

Mobile marketers looking to delve into wearable tech should view the technology as similar to the SMS or MMS platform since it is a series of messages that displays across the screen.

Similar to SMS and MMS, less is more with Google Glass, and it is important to not bombard consumers with streams of daily messages.

Ultimately, Glass will help make mobile phones more useful for consumers because it makes information easier to access and eliminates a step for consumers in searches and sharing content.

?The device has to work more seamlessly than it does today, and it has to be available at an affordable price,? Ms. Epps said.

?But already, extending the convenience of smartphone functions, plus the hands-free camera, are useful enough features to attract millions of consumers,? she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York