A new mom, a third hand, and the promise of tech wearables

There I was, clutching in the middle of the night, eyes half open, baby in one arm and cell phone in the other – each thumb and finger carefully maneuvering the right menu to order paper towels, the monogrammed turleneck for Dad, and more K-Cups for the sleep-deprived new parents (my husband and me).

During my maternity leave, there were many things that I became grateful for, including first and foremost a beautiful and healthy baby girl. But other appreciations – as any new parent can tell you – start to form. Daily showers and having a stocked fridge become the ultimate luxuries. There was even a time not so long ago when blow drying your hair or painting your nails were easy possibilities. Now, I’m learning the art of navigating the world – and technology – with only one hand.

Oh, what a wonder it would be to have an extra hand.

I’ve written and spoken a fair amount on the importance of mobile, but having lost one free hand for weeks during the holiday season (when gift buying and communicating with loved ones are commonplace) will forever make you grateful for the geniuses who invented voice texting and mobile-friendly websites. Proof once again that although you can balance a cell phone in many different directions, we are limited by only having two hands after all. (Evolution gods, can you hear me now?)

And so my dream of a third hand – as scary as that mental image may be – recalls the tech wearables that are the news of the day, at CES and even roving ASAE tradeshows. Are smart watches and other tech wearables the new tech holy grail? Are they a solution to the third-hand dilemma?

With Google Glass’s new winking functionality now presenting a whole new way to see and interact with RSS feeds, the wink is gaining more power – no need for a third hand! Prototype projects like Katia Vega’s idea of “Beauty Technology” – technology in the form of false eyelashes and makeup – could be on the market sooner than we know it. 

The point is: what was once sci-fi is quickly becoming reality. Are associations ready?

Associations have long struggled with how to present diverse member offerings on the web. Perhaps one of the first (and ongoing) dilemmas is member vs. non-member content and what gets “hidden” behind the member log-in. A second and fairly recent issue has been how all of this content displays on mobile devices. Over the last 2 years, many associations have realized that mobile is no longer an area they can afford to ignore, so they have started creating responsive or adaptable web designs in addition to their conference and association branded mobile apps. In a sense, they’ve been playing catch up on mobile. If wearables take hold (literally), will associations be able to ride the trend?

Indeed, tech wearables create another challenge/opportunity for associations. How exactly is a member with a smartwatch willing to interact with an organization? What expectations might accompany such swanky technology? What does this mean for an association’s content and branding? Not only does a distinctive visual style become important from a brand perspective, but organizations must take mobile one step further and truly look at the mobile experience as not a “stripping down” of content but as a new user interaction. Whatever technology the member is wearing becomes the ultimate personal user experience. 

Has your organization started considering its approach to wearable technologies? If so, please comment below; I’d love to hear your story. 

In the meantime, keep an eye out for future posts on this subject. I’ll be writing more about the possibilities and challenges of wearable technology – quite possibly while wearing one!