February 5th

"Wearables and the future of qual"

Posted by Abby Leafe in Research, Technology, Trends //

Wearable technology is the all the rage in many circles these days, and qualitative research is no exception.  Personally, I’m quite excited about the opportunity that wearables present, but also cognizant of the current limitations.

  • Wearables are going to be great for ethnographic work.  Being able to wear smart glasses or other types of wearable camera are going to change how we do this research, and how well we can capture what we learn for back end analysis and deliverables.  Interestingly, there is evidence to suggest that the best applications for wearable cameras are when researchers (not respondents) wear the camera, particularly with in-store settings.
  • Usability research will benefit too.  At CES this year eye-tracking experts Tobii debuted Glasses2, its latest version of wearable eye-tracking glasses that allow researchers to view what the respondent is seeing, in real time, from a remote location.  This is exciting, and probably the technology that is currently most ready for prime time.
  • Logistics limit what’s possible…for now.  Current hardware still needs to overcome battery, storage and cost challenges to become truly pervasive, but I expect those issues to evaporate over the coming months and into 2016 as we see the rise of even better wearable technology.

In the meantime, I’m patiently waiting to be able to buy my iWatch, which seems to have more promise for wearable consumer technology than glasses.  Stay tuned!

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