The Apple Watch is available for pre-order. Demos at the launch event included a wide variety of cool applications, but the real opportunity here isn’t just a seamless Uber experience. It’s not about an airline boarding pass. It’s not about pre-arrival hotel check-in or replacing your room key. (Though all of those are cool.)
This is about seamless connectivity — unobtrusive ways of identifying and using preferences. It’s about smarter guests. It’s about smarter hoteliers.
It’s also about constant data collection. As an advocate of using data to create solutions, the launch of ResearchKit was fascinating to me.
“Numbers are everything,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez of the American Heart Association. “The more people who contribute their data, the bigger the numbers, the truer the representation of a population and the more powerful the results. A research platform that allows large amounts of data to be collected and shared — that can only be a positive thing.”
Let’s be clear — in travel and hospitality we’re not curing diseases. But this concept of everyone becoming a collector and contributor of data is true across every industry, every area of life. In hospitality, it holds the promise of helping our guests have smoother journeys and more enjoyable travel experiences.
The case for getting an Apple Watch is not for what it is today, but to preview what the category represents. As Apple CEO Tim Cook says, this “begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology.”
The Apple Watch adds a new communication format — haptic feedback technology — with its Taptic Engine that hasn’t been fully exploited in the demos we’ve seen so far. (It’s almost reminiscent of early iPhone app demos that used the accelerometer to provide “shake to find a random restaurant” functionality.) The value from this may not be completely clear at this point, but incorporating beacon technology into this mix will provide even more opportunities for interaction.
It’s difficult to foresee all the applications that will emerge from the collection of technologies served through Apple Watch. What we do know is that there hasn’t been a new platform introduced without new, billion-dollar, game-changing companies emerging.
Wearables will eventually change travel as we know it — and I look forward to taking part in building the future.