By Michael Orlando, CEO, Fit Pay, Inc.
In December of 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics did a study on device usage in kids and found that 75 percent of the kids surveyed had their own smartphones and 96.6 percent had used a smartphone or similar device. The kids they surveyed were 4 years old and younger. That may skew young, but Influence Central did another study and found that the average age that kids get their smartphones is 10.
So, in a nutshell, young kids own and use devices. This age group, however, is an untapped market for wearable devices.
Google “wearable devices for kids” and nearly every search result is for GPS trackers for parents. It doesn’t make sense that this is the primary product offering when you consider the size of the market. The NPD Group puts the U.S. “youth electronics” market at almost $750 million for 2015 (and they’re really talking about electronic toys). Combine that with devices and the market opportunity is staggering.
I think the scale of this opportunity will push the wearables industry toward creating products explicitly for kids. And there are two existing products that show how wearable devices for kids have a wide range of potential use cases: Disney’s Magic Band and Pizza Hut’s NFC Tattoos.
I have a friend who’s getting ready to take her two kids on a Disney cruise. The thing she keeps talking about? The Magic Band. “Because they put it on and go, but I know where they are and what they’re doing.” The Magic Band is a bracelet that allows kids to access their room, use their Fast Pass, charge items to their account, etc. Essentially, it’s a wearable equipped with payments, ticketing and entry. But it only works at Disney.
It’s just a matter of time until someone creates a similar wearable that gives parents and kids that freedom and convenience in everyday life. It’ll have pre-paid or reloadable payments, transit access, school IDs, lunch money, whatever, and kids will like it because it gives them autonomy…and money. Parents will like it because it’s hard to lose and easy to monitor (and you could even throw in the GPS).
My other favorite kid item isn’t even a kid item. It was a marketing gimmick, but I think it has a lot of potential. Last October, Pizza Hut UK created a temporary tattoo that could order the wearer’s pizza of choice and deliver it to their (preprogrammed) location. The tattoos were equipped with NFC and QR technology and worked with the user’s smartphone. It wasn’t the sleekest system in the world (because what if you’re not in the mood for pepperoni?) but it was pretty clever.
Imagine your 10-year-old was going to Chuck E. Cheese and you could buy a temporary tattoo worth 30 tokens. I can also envision a pack of tattoos worth small dollar amounts sold with the gift cards in the grocery store. It’s an idea that seems ripe for expansion.
We, as an industry, are not yet creating and marketing wearable products designed specifically for kids. But I think it’s coming…soon.