Since Edward Thorp first used a wearable computer to “gain an advantage” at the roulette table, we’ve been obsessed with personal tech. We’ve seen it in films, on TV shows and chances are you’ve owned some already.
It’s never been easy to impress people with wearable tech though. I mean, yeah, calculator watches were a must have, but that was the 80’s; when money came easy and Casio Watches came cheap. Apart from the calcuwatch, everything has suffered. Even the first digital hearing aid, released in 1987, struggled with sales because of its size and battery life. And that helped people hear. People refusing to get one of their five senses back for the same reasons we complain about smartphones. Crazy.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking; “What about the Bluetooth headset? That did well!”
I think we all know the problem with Bluetooth headsets.
And that potted history brings us to 2014, the year of wearable tech.
So, looking at what’s been before, I’m going to have a guess at what will make a good wearable tech product.
It needs to be easy to use – Like the calculator watch.
It needs to be fashionable, if seen at all – Like the calculator watch.
And it needs to be useful – You get the idea.
The biggest success story so far, has to be the Nike+ FuelBand. Selling just short of 2m units in about 18 months was no mean feat. But even the mighty FuelBand has recently been pulled. People have speculated that it’s because of Nike’s close dealings with Apple. With the iWatch set to be released later this year, it seems Nike are putting their time and effort into making FuelBand style apps. Makes sense. It worked well enough in 2006 with the Nike+iPod set up.
Although progress seems to have stalled on it, I think the future of wearable tech will be around things like MITs SixthSense project. A pendant that can project information onto the real world as well as taking pictures, projecting a watch onto your wrist and turning your hand into a phone keypad.
Personally, I love the idea of just having one device with the power to be built on, added to and adapted to keep up with what you want. Maybe not realistic in the long term, but then, neither is taking a computer into a casino to help you win…and getting away with it.
At the moment, it seems like smartwatches are holding centre stage for the next few years. Pebble and iWatch will probably be leading the way. But Will.I.Am has been talking about a smartwatch that could change it all. One that doesn’t need a phone. That’s right, it’s just on your wrist and it can do everything a smartwatch/smartphone set up can do now. Great for me, because of my aforementioned dream of a multitool of a gadget. Great for you because it gives you one less thing to lose.