TechRepublic published an article last week on the results of the recent survey on wearables from the MEMS Industry Group and Valencell. The article was a good summary of the key results of the survey (you can find more detail here), but if you didn’t read the down to the bottom of the article, you may have missed a great point from Randy Bergstedt, senior marketing and business executive for smart wearables at Epson. Randy points out that “the only thing left out that he considers valuable is the motivational aspect of what the data means to a consumer or user of the hardware, such as the online community around a device.”

In hindsight, we should have included that in the survey, because it’s a really important point. The motivation provided by the combination of wearable data and social communities is a huge driver of value for consumers in the wearable space today. Just look at the fact that some of the most popular fitness app communities have been purchased by apparel companies for a total of over $1 billion!

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This also highlights a few things about the current state of the wearables market:

1.Wearables are a means to an end. A recent survey indicated that people buy wearables to accomplish a goal – tracking overall activity, managing weight, improving performance or some other goals. And wearable devices are the best way we have right now to collect data that enables people to quantify progress towards their goals. Accuracy in wearables is, of course, also very important to ensure the results indicated by the wearable data are true.

2.However, according to the same survey wearables must provide people with continually interesting insights. And that’s where social communities come in. People want to know how they compare to others, whether its peers, friends and family or simply demographic categories like location, age or fitness level. Strava, MapMyFitness, and Digifit are doing this really well today.

3.It’s more than just comparing and contrasting with others in a group. It’s also about discussion forums where people can get their questions answered, suggestions on how to accomplish their goals, and support and encouragement on the path to achieving their goals. People want to share their experiences, not just their data.

4.The aggregation of large data sets full of wearables user data is very valuable to some companies, because it in theory enables them to apply AI and analytics to big data to generate continually interesting insights. While we haven’t seen that come to fruition in any meaningful way yet, it’s coming.

We’ll have more in a future post on this last point about AI and wearables. Stay tuned!