We’ve already heard much about the potential of Google Glass as an advanced culmination of a rapid acceleration of growth concerning the wearable technology industry, veering towards a significant shift in how us as consumers utilise technology to ease the stress on our increasingly hectic daily lives.
But what other wearable technologies are currently in development by companies wishing to cash in on a likely transition from portable to wearable gadgets? How much do we know about similar future concepts which have perhaps gone a little under the radar since the start of Google’s heavy marketing campaign cycle for its next-gen tech baby?
The Apple iWatch made our list of ‘The 11 Most Anticipated Gadgets of 2013‘, and further news continues to steadily leak out from Apple’s notoriously tight-lipped hierarchy. Citi analyst Glen Yeung believes the watch may be released within the latter half of this year, with component suppliers about to be given the green light this month to start readying parts for production.
Yeung said in an investors note: “We suspect the go/no-go decision will be made in June and are leaning toward a ‘go’ outcome at this time.”
This initial rumour now appears very likely to come into fruition imminently, satiating the desires of hardcore Apple fans looking for something fresh from the company in the absence of the previously innovative presence of Steve Jobs.
It’s possible the watch will take on a modern and integrated wrap around style, utilising flexible materials for ultimate comfort, as a natural progression from the standard wrist watch, with Bluetooth capability a distinct possibility as the leading brands look to do away with cumbersome wires and attachments.
Bluetooth Glove Phone
Continuing on from the Bluetooth theme is a device not intended to be a strictly marketable commodity, although the Bluetooth Glove Phone is an experiment in wearable tech that highlights the creative benefits of recycling mobiles phones and the eventual possibilities of wearable technologies.
Designer Sean Miles of Designworks has working prototypes of bluetooth-enabled gloves which work in conjunction with a standard mobile phone by integrating a speaker into the middle finger, and an earpiece into the thumb. Miles describes the result as ‘a very natural interface’, in which he believes gloves as opposed to watches may be the natural way forward as a means of allowing more straightforward use of mobile and internet technologies.
Motorola HC1 Headset
Google are not the only company likely to have a monopoly on wearable head technologies, with Motorola brave enough to tackle the internet search engine giant literally ‘head-on’, with plans to release the HC1 Headset.
Motorola take a slightly different approach to Google in the sense that this is seen distinctly as a head-based computer, separating the product slightly from the real-time HUD display comprising advanced internet and social networking capabilities in Google Glass.
The HC1 Headset is aimed at a specific target market, including maintenance engineers and the emergency services, due to its primary function as a hands-free voice and gesture controlled device capable of accessing documents and real-time information such as e-mail messages in difficult working conditions. Wider implications could include monitoring staff remotely due to the camera and eye view attachments, making those quick scans of Facebook and Twitter pages or extra coffee breaks all the more elusive.
This offering may not be as stylish as the more streamlined and fashion conscious Google Glass’ of this world, but considering this isn’t aimed directly at the high street consumer, it’s a potentially game changing piece of kit which could transform tricky workplace zones into more manageable and efficient environments to operate in.
Sensoria Fitness Socks
Ever found yourself wanting more from your socks than the stale stench of sweat post run? Wearable tech firm Heapsylon have developed (washable) Sensoria Fitness Socks packed with smart capabilities, aiming to get the most out of this previously underrated clothing item.
Special textile sensors are integrated into the sock for communication via a Bluetooth-powered anklet, feeding activity data back to your smart phone on anything from total amount of runner’s steps, distance, speed and calories. The app can then help athletes to prevent frustrating injuries by acting as a virtual coach to correct irregular stride patterns for an in-depth analysis of fitness and training routines, seeing the Sensoria Socks providing a decent platform to act as a respected alternative start-up competitor to the likes of Nike+ FuelBand.
Heapsylon hopes to raise $87,000 on Indiegogo to help fund product development and manufacturing, starting June 20th.
Memoto’s Wearable Camera
Have you ever been frustrated at fumbling for your camera or smart phone in order to take a shot only for the moment to pass haplessly by before you got the chance? A Swedish start-up sharing the same name have developed Memoto, a lifelogging camera that you wear around your neck, capable of capturing images every 30 seconds.
If this sounds like a gimmick prefacing one of those ‘do we really need this in our lives?’ new tech queries, imagine being able to capture such vital life moments continuously without having to actively act upon a gadget to procure the picture. In theory, memories could be stored forever, potentially allowing you to look back on the first time you met your eventual marriage partner for example, acting as an explicitly detailed photo collection that ensures nothing gets missed. This would be similar to a surveillance camera aimed at tracking the priceless human experience, instead of solely capturing largely mundane activity of shopping malls or pub car parks.
The idea is not without its drawbacks though, much like any future wearable technology plans, highlighted by Martin Kallstrom, CEO of Memoto, who describes the problems of such personal devices that will have access to constant public monitoring: “We need to figure out how to behave when wearing a camera and how to behave when others are wearing a camera,” he said.
Wearable technology developers certainly need to readjust their focus away from the currently hazy perception of just how these gadgets might work. This is in terms of not just the practicalities of having technology often literally attached to our bodies as opposed to currently separate portable smart phone devices, but also in terms of a raft of privacy issues and inevitable consumer readjustment to a wearable tech environment.
There will be much guesswork as to what area of the body wearable technologies will work best without being obtrusive, while style and practicality will have to be acutely examined so as to not compromise disastrously on either which may render potential products undesirable for the intended receiver. Apple and Google may well have the edge in the wearable technologies market, at least initially, in terms of a history in refined sleekness and elegance of their respective products which may well be required to latch onto wary consumer interest in any such new technology.
It seems as though a dawning of a new era may begin in which the lines between human and gadget function are continually blurred, whereby virtual reality and reality are increasingly becoming seamlessly connected.
Let’s just hope things pan out a little better than they did on the Terminator movies.