Wearable technology: Coming to a cinema near you?

It's a Tuesday morning, 5:20AM to be exact, and my wrist starts vibrating.

A curious beginning to a blog post, but I have to give you the background...

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My first venture into wearable tech was in the form of a Fitbit Charge, which I purchased in 2015 and use to document how active (or inactive, as is largely the case) I've been over the course of a usual day.

Aside from the motivational benefit, this wrist-worn tracking device includes an alarm function, which, when set, vibrates at your chosen time. It is a very effective method of waking one up — if not a strange sensation initially.

“That's all well and good”, I might hear you say, “but what has that got to do with the cinema industry?” Here's where I begin to make the connection.

Wearable tech is on the cusp of becoming a booming business, not quite mainstream yet, but so very, very close. The advent of Apple’s own Watch was surely an indicator that this new content and data delivery platform is no flash-in-the-pan concept.

The idea itself is not entirely new. Wrist-worn devices have been around for years, but never with a huge degree of market penetration. This is largely due to an underwhelming reception by target markets and that, ultimately, the hardware and software wasn't quite ready for the mainstream.

However, we stand at the dawn of a new era. In my opinion, 2015 set up 2016 to be the year of wearable devices, with offerings from LG, Motorola, and Pebble, amongst others.

But why now? What has changed?

I think the main reason is that the market is ready. We can see the benefits of having these new gadgets strapped to our limbs.

Imagine this, if you will. You just booked yourself a trip to the movies. Exciting!

By opting to get your printable ticket sent to your Google email address, you're already at an advantage. Android Wear devices display Google Now cards, allowing you to easily access the printable ticket you just received. Nothing left but to make it to the theater, scan your wrist, and enter!

Ah, you still have to get to the theater? Don’t worry, your wrist companion can help you there too!

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Vista Mobile delivers screening details and QR codes to supported devices (such as the Apple Watch) for ushers to scan on entry to the cinema.

Not only can you enable a reminder to notify you at a certain time before the session starts (remember that vibrating wrist alert I started off with?), but if the cinema’s address information is contained in the email accompanying your printable ticket, you can also have turn-by-turn directions provided as you head to the cinema location!

However, the integration possibilities don't end there — now you’re at the cinema, why not use your loyalty card to get that member-only concession combo? You’ve worked hard for it, why not? Having your membership card always with you, safely stored in electronic format, it’s always at your fingertips (practically, okay it’s technically your wrist but I'm evangelizing here!), lightening your wallet and allowing you to keep only the important stuff in there.

“But now I have to pay for those concessions”, I hear you say. Well, with Google's Card Wallet, and Apple’s own ApplePay, a scan of your wrist would be all it would take to complete the transaction and allow you to head into your session.

In a similar fashion, you’ll get the opportunity (via your wearable device) to give your opinion on what you’ve just seen — rate the movie, the food, and even your overall moviegoing experience at the cinema as soon as your session finishes. Giving feedback directly to the cinema means that you make sure they are taking your satisfaction seriously. And who knows, if others echo the same sentiment, you might yet get to sit in those giant, fluffy bean bags on your next visit!

Everything outlined here might not be 100% possible, yet, but it’s certainly not far off. Trust me, “the times they are a-changing”, and this type of tech evolution is something that, if embraced by the cinema industry, could be a huge marketing and content delivery platform.

What do you think?

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