We’ve gone beyond smart phones for some time now. Google Glass and Apple iWatch appear to be coming soon. As we know, the appeal of new hardware wanes quickly if there aren’t apps to make the device have unique purposes. So what kind of applications can make wearable devices special?
Well, the first consideration is that wearable devices won’t be as general purpose as a smart phone. Their context will depend on where the device is worn, and probably which of our senses they are designed to interact with. Eyewear applications will want to exploit their proximity to our eyes, both to look at our eye movements, and provide or change the subject that we view. I do wonder if eyewear devices will ever be able to correct my colour blindness, and show me colours exactly how most people see them.
The watch / wrist device isn’t as obvious to exploit as there’s no direct sensory organ nearby. Telling the time just isn’t enough; nor is showing where you are, the weather forecast there, or when your phone is communicating. However, I do suspect that with embedded NFC abilities, the speed of interacting with payment terminals, public transport gates, and swapping small files with other smart devices, applications will be easy to find.
Of course wearable means any portable device that can be carried on one’s self. It should also mean any collection of sensors that integrate with the device, thus introducing new(ish) data types like temperature, atmospheric pressure, specific odours. You can imagine medical / health applications that would justify the development of such devices. These could be worn as a part of, or could replace belts, gloves, rings, necklaces, or just embedded into the pockets or linings of clothing.
I have concentrated on hardware side of technology as we already know how to communicate between portable devices and backend processing systems. There could be massive data consolidation required at the backend system, to give rapid feedback to the wearable device, but we know that is all possible. So while I’m contemplating all this new or future technology, I am reminded from an article that I read recently, that sometimes it’s simply enough to find a funny reason to pursue a new direction in technology.
Halloween came recently, and I read this article http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-57606726-233/put-your-smartphone-at-the-center-of-a-horror-tastic-halloween-costume/ . OK, the URL reveals the subject, and it is a funny read. But it did make me want to investigate and think about wearable technology in general. One day we probably will be developing serious business apps for wearable devices.