What will be the next disruptive technology? And how will it impact investing or trading? Fidelity Investments is betting that wearable computing could be the next disruptive technology for investors.
Yesterday Fidelity Labs, a unit of Fidelity focused on testing emerging technologies, launched the first investing application for Google Glass, the tiny wearable computer that sits above the eyes, developed by the search giant.
“In the long term, we feel that wearable computing will likely be the next wave of innovation and it will be a benefit to our customers as investors,” said Hadley Stern , VP , Fidelity Labs, which is part of Fidelity’s Center for Applied Technology.
Fidelity’s application is called Fidelity Market Monitor for Glass and the Google term for this is Glassware. Initially, Fidelity’s experiment allows investors wearing Glass to see values from the major US stock index, at market-close. In a concept video on the Fidelity Labs' web site (and on Youtube), Fidelity shows how commuters in a train station wearing glass use voice commands to access a Fidelity account, view a trade confirmation, receiving news alerts, add a stock to a watch list, and use visual cues in the wearer’s line of sight, such as a company logo, to pull up stock quotes. In addition, Fidelity created a community web site where users can comment and the firm can track feedback.
Google’s term for application is Glassware is a bit complicated, as opposed to an application for the iPhone or Android. “You put on Glass, you get the weather, or you get a text message or you get a particular notification, that shows up in Google Glass and that shows up in your timeline,” explains Stern. Google has made Glass available to third parties like Fidelity to create Glassware, which shows up as cards. “Our card shows up at market Close and market summary of certain indices. That is why it’s called Glassware instead of an application,” he said.
Fidelity, which is participating in Google Glass’s early developer program, has been working on the protoype for months. Generally speaking, Google has a fairly mature Google’s developer program that allows companies like Fidelity to buy one pair of Glass to gain access to the application-programming interface (API), which is needs in order to design the application. “They’re scaling, they’ve got about 8,000 of these entities,” said Stern referring to the number of Glassware pilots underway.
In a blog post, Stern wrote: “Wearable computing is loosely defined as technology that is worn, whether it is glasses, watches, clothing, wrist bands, clothing, really any technology worn on the body.
So, how can wearable computing be used? Research shows that people check their smart phones about 200 times a day to see the time, read a text message, find out the temperature, get an alert on a stock trade, and probably half that amount could be done through a wearable device, according to Stern.
While Stern doesn’t think that wearable computing can replace the things you need for executing a trade, “it could replace some of the functions that you won’t pull out a smart phone for,” he said.
Given its history of exploring innovations harkening back to the iPhone, Facebook, Twitter and podcasting, Fidelity Labs is taking a very long- term view on innovation. “Wearable is something that’s there. We’re taking it seriously, and these things are notoriously hard to predict,” said Stern. Since the charter of Fidelity Labs is to understand and deploy experiments for emerging technology ahead of where the business is, Stern said, “We hope we can provide an early indicator so if this emerges, if five years from now we all have a wearable device, we’re a little bit ahead of the game.”