By Carl Weiss
The Paris Fashion Show has nothing on Google and Amazon when it comes to offering wearable technology. The two titans of tech have recently weighed in with major advancements in wearables. Amazon has just opened a Wearable Technology Store in the UK that offers more than 100 different wearable devices including activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and wearable cameras. Google last month rolled out their Android Wear operating system for smart watch developers. This says nothing of the hundreds of companies that have also leapt into the rapidly expanding wearables market.
What Ware and Why?
People are certainly talking about wearables. The telegraph.com reported in a recent blog that “Twitter dominated as the main location of wearables with 75 per cent of all mentions, with news sites a distant second at 10%. Year-on-year the conversation around wearables has increased an impressive 190 per cent when comparing the first quarter of 2013 (973,300 mentions) to that of 2014 (2,816,814 mentions).” They also reported that the conversation seems to be relegated mainly to the United States, the rest of the globe seeming to take a wait and see attitude.
|The iWatch - Only a Matter of Time (Photo credit: wmacphail)|
What’s to see on amazon.co.uk? If you are into smartwatches and bracelets you will have your hands full since the site carries hundreds of offerings. This in itself is impressive when you consider that the smartwatch as we know it really only got its start about three years ago with the first rumors of the Apple iWatch. While hundreds of imitators have thrown their hats into the smartwatch ring, the iWatch is still not available for sale and rumors about its description and launch date are as elusive as that of a unicorn. This is curious in and of itself since Samsun reported to Reuters that it had sold more than 800,000 of its Galaxy Gear smartwatches in two months.
Priced at around $300, the Gear works as an accessory to its market leading Galaxy smartphone, with a small OLED screen offering basic functions like photos, hands-free calls and message notifications. Samsung has poured marketing resources into the Gear with heavy advertisements and collaborations with fashion shows to seize leadership in the wearable computer market after the device got off to a rocky start after being critically panned by reviewers.
As for the vaunted iWatch rumor has it that they will hit the market in September. That’s if you can trust the pundits. http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/apple-iwatch-release-date-price-concepts-features-and-rumours
Of course, smartwatches are hardly the only wearable tech currently on the shelf. If you are one of those leading an active lifestyle there are a number of wearables that are designed to track everything from the amount of distance you travel afoot to the total calories burned, to time spent idling and/or sleeping.
One of the more intriguing of these is a device called the Jawbone UP24 which strangely enough is worn on one’s wrist. According to the company’s literature, “The UP® system is like a coach that gets to know you, then guides you to make simple decisions that lead to a more active life. With precise step tracking, workout logging and Insight Reports, UP is way more than a pedometer. Use Idle Alert to remind you to move throughout the day. And whether you want to shed a few pounds or just eat healthier, tracking food is now even easier. New features include frequent meals, an enhanced calorie counter, and an expanded library of restaurant menus. There's even a Food Score, so you can quickly see how healthy your food choices are. It's all designed to help you make great choices about what to eat and when. The UP® system gives you an in-depth picture of your sleep. Sleep graphs let you see the good, the bad and the rapidly improving. Use bedtime reminders, Power Nap and Smart Alarm® to get to sleep and wake up at optimal times. UP intelligently analyzes your sleep, diet and exercise, then suggests simple adjustments that lead to more rest and happier days.” https://jawbone.com/up
If tracking your every step, bite and REM sleep isn’t enough, there is now an entire armada of wearable cameras and mounts designed to record your every move in HD video. So whether you prefer to walk, run, drive, bike, hang glide, spelunk, scuba dive or jump out of a perfectly good airplane, there is a camera and mount designed to allow you to capture the moment. So whether you wish to capture those selfies in a camera mounted on your wrist, head, foot or chest, rest assured that someone somewhere has created the perfect camera rig.
Nothing to Ware?
If you think that smartwatches, bracelets and helmets are outré, then you may want to look into some of the latest developments in wearables. A Taiwanese company called AIQ Smartclothing that contain everything from built-in lighting and/or heating, to their Bioman shirts which are machine washable and contain embedded electrodes that are designed to connect wirelessly to any tablet or smartphone in order to provide the wearer with real time biometric data. http://aiqsmartclothing.com/
As if Google Glass was not enough, the company has partnered with Swiss drug company Novartis to develop a type of smart contact lens that contain non-invasive sensors, microchips and other embedded miniature electronics that can be designed to either monitor the glucose levels in the tears of diabetics, or that can restore 20/20 vision to people who require reading glasses. (I am not making this up.) While the prototype was unveiled in January, the smartcontacts are not expected to reach market for several years, by which time wearers will probably be able to use them to take pictures with them since Google recently filed a patent for Embedded Microscopic Cameras. This will come as a relief to many Glassholes who have experienced everything from intimidation to forceable ejection from movie theaters, restaurants and other public places for wearing Google Glass.
In the meantime, expect the rush to computerize other forms of apparel in the not too distant future. Already I have seen everything from bionicbras designed to produce electrical power , to an emotion-sensing dress that changes color to suit your mood. (Boy could we men get behind this invention.)
Speaking of wives, in years to come as wearable technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, will the lament of spouses transform into one of, “I can’t go out tonight. I have nothing to ware.”
When he isn’t showing his lack of fashion sense, Carl Weiss is leader of the crew of innovators at the digital marketing agency Working the Web to Win in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also co-host of the weekly Blog Talk Radio show of the same name that can be heard every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern.