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Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
Fastcoworks Created for and commissioned by Adobe
How Cheap Sensors Are Boosting The Speed Of Business

Each year brings more channels, more campaigns, more devices in the hands of consumers, and, of course, more data about what they’re doing on those devices. If it feels as though nearly every aspect of marketing is moving even faster, that’s because it is.

What’s driving much of this change is no great mystery, although it largely goes unnoticed. As Travis Sabin, Adobe’s product manager for mobile app analytics, explained at the company’s Summit conference in Las Vegas last week, the force in question is the sensors embedded in your smartphone.

They turn the device into a voracious data collector of your whereabouts, your shopping, surfing and exercise habits—you name it. The data deluge that enables the "quantified self" starts here: in your palm, your pocket, your purse.

Sensor monitoring has increased as the technology and economics have improved. The average cost of embedded sensors, Sabin said, has dropped dramatically, from $1.38 to 60 cents since the introduction of the iPhone. Thanks to the economies of scale achieved by smartphone manufacturers, the price is expected to drop to 38 cents by 2020.

As marketing platforms interconnect and companies reconcile their data sources, these tiny trackers—now being integrated into all sorts of consumer goods—have the potential to turn paid media and reporting into an even tighter feedback loop.

Whether in iBeacons, automated kiosks or retail robots, a company’s sensors can communicate with consumers’ devices, telling marketers who is interacting with their touchpoints, and what their intent might be. With more confidence about the profile of a visitor, brands can offer increasingly specific, contextual and consistent messaging across channels, driving customers faster down the sales funnel.

Over the next few years, the chips are expected to pervade infrastructure, consumer goods, tools and equipment, cars, agriculture, fashion and nearly every corner of the physical world. By 2019, Sabin said, there will be 23.3 billion active Internet of Things (IoT) devices—twice the combined number of smartphones, tablets and PCs today.

This enormous marketplace will add $1.7 trillion to the economy, with $50 billion in IoT hardware sales alone. It’s hard to imagine a sector that won’t be affected. The ability to remotely monitor and store information about touch, vibration, orientation, sound, humidity, temperature, pressure, infrared energy and other physical attributes represents a breathtaking opportunity—the "quantified world."

This article was created for and commissioned by Adobe, and the views expressed are their own.