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How Apps and Sensors are Revolutionizing Unexpected Industries

Thursday, June 15, 2017   • Posted by Erika Vázquez

The industries in which sensors and mobile technology have been making the biggest waves are ones where capturing movement, physiological response, and user activity are directly related to monetary outcome — for example, pharmaceuticals, sports and fitness, and healthcare. If a pharmaceutical company can objectively prove that a drug is improving quality of life, or if a doctor can receive an alert when a patient’s heart rate is too fast, that’s a game changing solution.

But the benefits of apps and sensors reach far beyond these spheres into more surprising industries that are not so directly tied to these measurements. Dozens of unexpected companies have opened digital innovation labs and begun incorporating novel technology into their business strategy to improve their products and their customer experience.

CB insights recently published a list of 52 companies in sectors like finance, retail, and automotive that are experimenting with innovation labs of their own.

Skincare and Beauty

L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator continues to dream up ways to use apps, wearables, and sensors that leverage new technology to provide customers with individualized and helpful products. Here are some of their impressive developments:

  • Makeup Genius, an app that leverages augmented reality to enable users to virtually wear and test cosmetics before purchasing
  • My UV Patch, an ultra-thin sticker and accompanying app that helps users monitor sun exposure
  • Kérastase Hair Coach, a smart hairbrush armed with a conductivity sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi


Brick-and-mortar stores, from grocers to appliance providers, have jumped on the apps and sensors bandwagon, too.

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the country, has been testing interactive shelves with embedded sensors that detect shoppers through their phones and then offer product suggestions and special pricing. Cameras and infrared sensors have been added to stores to monitor foot traffic, which, combined with algorithms, help deploy cashiers and manage checkout wait times.

Lowe’s is taking a similar virtual testing approach to L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius but applying it to home improvement. Using the Lowe’s Vision app, users can measure rooms and see how appliances and furniture would look in their space.


In 2015, MetLife’s Lumen Lab set off to reimagine the role of insurance in people’s lives. The lab has since introduced projects like conVRse, offering on-demand virtual adviser services and immersive sales experiences for financial services brands.

Farmers Insurance also embraced emerging technology, with plans to use sensors to detect motor vehicle damage and drones that can recognize fires.

Professional Athletics and Fan Engagement

The MLB and the NBA approved wearables for athletes during games, with the goal of quantifying performance, improving injury recovery, and further engaging with fans.

The players aren’t the only ones wearing sensors, though. In Jaguar’s #FeelWimbledon campaign, the company distributed biometric wristbands to fans, tracking their motion and heart rate to analyze their emotions throughout matches. Fans could access the data and see the communal mood changes through the campaign’s website.

Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Nike, and Visa are just a few of the other companies taking advantage of technological advances in their strategies. Sensors and apps are being deployed across multiple industries to anticipate user’s needs, provide personalized interactions and products, and overall improve experiences.