The internet of things is a big trend with connected hardware companies making big waves with exciting products and gigantic acquisitions. Fitness bands and clips are the one device that most people think of when they think wearables.
Not owning one of those devices, or owning and ahem, not using, caused me to think I wasn’t really participating in wearables. But why, since I’m an original early adopter and the Chief Product Officer at Personal Capital? My closets are littered with gadgets and devices that never lived up to the hype. Looking at the apps on my phone you see multiple connected devices that I use on a regular basis.
Here’s my list:
* Garmin Connect to talk to my Edge 510 when cycling
* Withings to talk to my scale and blood pressure monitor
* Livecams to keep an eye on my house and dogs
* Nest to manage my home HVAC
* Slingbox to watch tv when I’m away from home
* DirecTV’s app to control my DVR in case I’m at a Warriors game and forgot to set it to record
* GoPro to work my camera
* Audi Connect to talk to my car
None of my connected devices are wearables but that’s going to change soon. I’ve tried some wearables in the past but haven’t been able to get past the form factor. A watch is the ultimate wearable, it can slide right in and take over wrist space and look like it belongs. They provide contact with the skin which allows for measurement of anything from heart rate to blood oxygen level to one day hopefully glucose. Watches are also always in close proximity to the phone if you have it in your purse or pocket.
This is why I am so excited about both the advent of watches as smart connected devices and our Android Wearables app for Personal Capital. A new form factor is challenging to design for, but it’s the experience that you have to re-think as well. What do I really want to know while I’m on the go, how do I want it delivered, and with what frequency? For financial services and cloud based services like ours, how do we think of a wearables and security?
Personal Capital’s Goal For Wearables
Our first Google Wear app keeps it simple and maintains the security of your private financial information but remains useful. Here are three things our Google Wear app provides:
1) You can see how your overall portfolio is doing %-wise relative to the market.
2) You will get a snapshot of your top gainers and losers for the day.
3) You can also receive an end-of-market notification that you can customize based on a % market change you set yourself.
We are looking at new features that make intelligent use of space and location to help assist people in making better financial decisions such as being able to see how much you have spent so far this month vs last and whether you are ahead or behind on your expenses.
We aim to bring what fitness trackers do by monitoring daily activities for positive long term health results to the personal finance arena. Little positive changes add up to great financial change.
Some Additional Benefits Of Wearable Devices
An additional layer of security could be added based on a watch and phone working together. It’s possible that someone could steal your phone or your watch. You could also accidentally leave your phone in an airport restroom or the back of a cab. What a pain!
But what’s the likelihood that you lose your watch and your smartphone at the same time? Probably not very high unless you encounter the world’s most amazing pickpocket. If your phone does get stolen, your phone could lock if it is out of range of the watch, disabling critical functions or alerting you via email. To complete a financial transaction you could need to have both your watch and phone at the same time – kind of like the President needing two keys to activate a nuclear warhead.
Looking at sites like “If this then that” IFTTT.com where you can see recipes for having devices talking to each other, and other services, you can only imagine the volume of creative connections that adding a watch into the mix will bring. There are already recipes for using your watch to turn off the lights in your house, upload a map of where you are or texting your significant other than you’re on your way home, I’m going to be using that one.
The Possibilities Are Endless
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in wearable-land as we await the entry of Apple into the mix. It’s an exciting time to be developing for both platforms to say the least.
At Personal Capital we believe that in re-imagining personal finance, we need to embrace new platforms and new technologies. Let’s see where they can take us and how they can be used to allow our users and clients to lead better financial lives.