An Interview with Andrew Rosenthal

Ahead of the WEAR 2016 session on The Rocky Path to Insightful Wearables for Consumers and Employees, we caught up with Andrew Rosenthal for a preview of his presentation, Wearables at Work - Three Trends for the Next Three Years.

WEAR: In your opinion, what are major shifts that need to happen in order for wearables to provide meaningful user data to both consumers and employers?

Rosenthal: Tracking is table stakes. The wearables category needs to go beyond measuring and computing to analyzing, predicting, and recommending. People — be they consumers, employers, or others — are less interested in what they did today and more interested in what to do differently tomorrow to help reach their goals.

WEAR: How can we move from the quantified self to the quantify us for behavior change as a society?

If we can't get it right on the individual level, then there's no reason to think we'll figure it out at the group level. Behavior change is hard — focusing on moving an entire organization doesn't make it any easier. Data is a key component of informing group understandings and shifting behavior, but so are rules and policies (legislation) and incentives (economics). Only by all three working in harmony will we be efficient and effective and social-level change.

WEAR: As more consumers and businesses adopt wearable devices where do you see potential for different form factors and going beyond the fitness trackers?

The wrist-worn fitness tracker is a great entry point for people — it's a natural and familiar form factor and aligns with social practices around jewelry and identify. But there are plenty of other ways to pull in health and wellness data. The most forward-thinking organizations are separating out the form from the function and looking into which data streams are most impactful, then asking where they can source the data. That's why the best wearable aren't just about the hardware but are instead a function of software (on the phone) analytics (in the cloud) and other data streams. These other data could be from the body, from nearby (eg phone or automobile sensors) or from other services (such as weather services).

WEAR: What would be your number 1 wish for getting real insights on human behavior from wearable devices?

I wish I knew how people felt in the moment. We can measure biometrics like sweat or heart rate and can use them as proxies for feeling, but the tools for assessing actual feelings are largely stuck decades behind the rest of science.

WEAR: What are you looking forward to hear at WEAR next month in Boston?

I'm most excited to meet with other attendees and hear how they're incorporating wearable data into business functions and decisions.

Andrew Rosenthal will present at WEAR 2016.  Register to attend WEAR using the link below.

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