The internet is abuzz today with the announcement of Spectacles, a new wearable camera from Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat) that takes the form of stylish post-hipster looking sunglasses. Spectacles allow you to take a 10 second, wide-angle video by tapping a button on the top of the glasses. The $130, one-size-fits all glasses also feature a light in the front to show others you are recording. Users can download the videos to their devices, edit, then upload the content to Snapchat.

This is the first hardware product from CEO Evan Spiegel, who renamed his company to Snap Inc. to reinforce the new notion that the company’s offerings go beyond the original app. While it may seem strange (why is a messaging company making a sunglasses camera?) this move follows an increasing trend of companies innovating outside their pre-defined product lines to create a branded, seamless experience that delights customers in a new way.

In a world of smart-connected devices, we are seeing companies redefine themselves and experiment in new ways. Examples are everywhere:

  • GE transforming itself into a digital industrial company to provide sensing, predicting and responding capabilities
  • Nike expanding its role in the lives of its consumers from an apparel brand to a holistic fitness solution with Nike+ fitness planning, tracking and sharing
  • Gatorade experimenting with a hydration tracking system and new food products to shift itself from a sports specialty beverage to a platform for increasing athletic performance by tracking, managing and delivering hydration/nutrition

Brands that see market saturation or difficulty maintaining a premium in the eyes of their customers are innovating the customer experience and delivering new touch points around their core products that meld the physical, digital and experiential.

What Does This Mean for Pharma?

There has been a huge push in the pharmaceutical industry to go ‘beyond the pill’ – to build and deploy complementary services and solutions to diversify revenue sources. However, many of these new products and service experiments are rarely commercialized. You’d be hard pressed to find any real revenue beyond pills.

If we take lessons learned from other industries, maybe we should think less about what lies beyond the pill and instead focus on what lies around it. From wearable sensors, virtual reality, mobile applications and beyond, we now have access to new technology that can create meaningful brand touchpoints for patients, providers and payers. Instead of using these new tools to invent completely new models, we may be able to use them to enhance the clinical effectiveness and commercial success of the industry’s core products.

The opportunities for innovation are ripe if we take inspiration from Snap Inc. and view the situation from a new lens.

About the Author:

Zach Friedman