eBay Inc. has had a knack for making early bets on mobile technologies and platforms that have produced meaningful results, and the company’s next frontier could be bringing commerce to wearable devices. Among other efforts in this area, we are releasing RedLaser for Glass, which puts the most popular barcode scanning technology on Google Glass devices. (RedLaser facilitates on-the-fly mobile price comparisons.)
With RedLaser for Glass, users can perform price comparisons for products on the fly, without needing to take out a smartphone or other device, and more. We caught up with Steve Yankovich, head of the Innovation and New Venture group, to find out more about eBay Inc. and the future of wearables. Here are his thoughts, which were also featured on TechCrunch:
Our purpose in integrating our technology with wearable devices isn’t to drive home our belief that any specific hardware platform is instantly ready for mass adoption. In many cases, doing things like barcode scanning using Glass is faster than the alternative, though, which is to take out a smartphone and use RedLaser there.
We do see a future where technologies that are always on your person are seamlessly communicating with devices and objects. Soon you’ll be able to do things like pull up to a gas pump and because you’ve got a PayPal app or vehicle of some kind on you, pump six will be automatically enabled. You don’t have to do anything, and you may be carrying any one of a number of devices.
All of this won’t be perfect right out of the gate. Voice commands for wearables aren’t the only answer. Think about all the times in your environment where ambient noise is just as loud as your voice. That creates problems, but as the processers and/or cameras get better in these devices they will become the way to go.
The main reason we are pursuing putting our apps on wearable devices is that we want to be at the forefront of understanding how the new tools engage consumers. We want to understand the commerce hook. You have to stay on top of emerging technologies in order to understand them.
Consumer expectations of how to engage with physical retail environments have changed because of the adoption, success and use of mobile.
We also have to pay attention to the fact that the smartphone may not be the ideal mobile form factor going forward. They can be pretty heavy. The batteries may not last very long and for much of our day phones aren’t the best form factor.
There will surely be a personal hub of sorts. A processor, the phone and data connectivity could all be in a very small compact package. But how we interface with that connectivity could imply a limitless set of devices, including altogether new ones and augmentations to many of the things and surfaces around us today.