By Gareth Price, Technical Director

On the heels of Kenneth Cole’s pioneering use of Google Glass for its Mankind fragrance campaign, I have set my sights on turning wearable technology from a niche-marketing tool into a mainstream activity.  Joined by industry experts for a panel on wearable technology at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival, we’ll have the opportunity to explore the different ways wearable technology impacts the worlds of fashion and design, and what is needed for mainstream adoption. The panel will be held Friday, June 13, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.

To become a mainstream marketing tool, wearable tech must first become mainstream itself through mass consumer use.  If something like flashing footwear sounds silly now, so did the concept of people obsessively checking their cellphones just a few years ago. But it’s now a social norm, and you don’t even notice it — even in public places like restaurants.

But which kind of clothing, accessory or bodily attachment will be the breakthrough that moves wearable tech from toys and experimental devices to mainstream adoption?

Will it be jewelry, as espoused by one of my fellow panelists on Friday — Logan Munro, co-founder of Ringly, whose rings and other bling flash or vibrate upon arrival of texts, calls or other notifications?

How about charging your phone via a coat or dress lined with solar panels?  That’s the concept from designer Pauline Van Dongen, another co-panelist.

Or could it be technology that’s not “worn” at all but actually embedded in your body, as written about recently by Entrepreneur managing editor and panel moderator Jason Fell?

Whatever tech we’ll be wearing when it becomes mainstreamed, Kenneth Cole’s campaign has already set some guidelines for how marketers can use wearable tech successfully:

  • Don’t be intrusive.  Traditional in your face, interruption-based advertising won’t work with wearable tech.
  • Build brand affinity by engaging with consumers for experiential campaigns.
  • Marketers must create new experiences to encourage consumers to change their habits.

“One of the biggest debates we have internally at RSR is, what needs to happen in order to change consumer habits?” said Lauren Nutt Bello, Partner of Ready Set Rocket. “Do wearables need to be more fashionable or invisible? Do they need to reach a level of necessity in order for consumers to not care what they look like?”

Wearable tech as a marketing tool may only be in its infancy, but by taking those first steps with Kenneth Cole, RSR is poised to be a leading player once the field reaches maturity.

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