Applications in the eye of the beholder: Google Glass + capital markets

25 April 2013
David Easthope
On my walk into work this morning I was thinking about the new Google Glass. Marc Andreessen announced he was impressed with it and would be funding new application developments for Glass. This got me thinking- what types of apps could be created for the securities and investments industry for Glass? In one sense, Glass could simply be the next mobility device- a device that people bring to work with them (BYOG- bring your own glass) and which allows them to be remote from their desktop/tablet/mobile and yet still get their work done through alerts, conferencing, messaging, etc But I also think that Glass could not only be about push, but about pull. Meaning, Glass could pull/capture information that could be fed into some type of capital markets activity. Certainly, Glass could be a convenient way for (buy and sell-side) analysts to record meetings, company visits and conferences and thus have a useful record of conversations and presentations. Analysts could even collaborate on investment ideas in real time with other analysts, sales and traders. For advanced trading the applications gets far more theoretical. Could Glass simply be thought of as capturing just another type of unstructured data for the trading process? Clearly, if we are using sentiment data /social media data to feed trading strategies and applications, Glass could capture something useful as well. Video, photos of events/places/things could be fed into an investment decisioning tool. Glass data could compete with or even supplement satellite images and public domain web cameras. One example could be traffic into a leading retailer (indulge the HAL 9000 type conversation) Analyst: standing outsider XYZ retailer “Glass- analyst consensus is that there are 5,000 unique visitors to XYZ retailer on any given Friday…how many did you count in the last 15 minutes”… Glass: “50 which equates to 2,000/day according to posted hours…Google search satellite data also show that automobile traffic to this parking lot is 50% below trend in the last 4 weeks” Analyst “This is well below trend….Glass, short 1,000 shares of XYZ retailer and send order to my trader” Sales/trader “Confirmed” While this all seems futuristic, at least one immediate benefit of Glass is apparent: it could make existing and in-development trading applications better. Developers could issue Glass to users of existing or beta products to capture data about trader eyeflow i.e. where they look at on the screen, how often they look away, which pop ups/alerts are actually useful, etc - developers can design/redesign GUIs to be more eyeflow/workflow efficient and appealing. With pop-up overload in many trading systems, including bonds, eyeflow data could be the difference between failure and success.
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