Wearable computing is coming
If you listen to the critics, they’ll tell you that CES is past its prime and that it’s not worth flying to Las Vegas to attend the popular electronics show. But CES isn’t usually about what’s coming out now, or necessarily what’s coming out soon. Instead, it’s a look at what’s on the horizon and what we’ll all want or might have in the few years. From 4K TV’s to Microsoft’s demo of illumiroom, it’s mainly about the future.
This year however, CES seemed to focus a lot on the little guys, many from Kickstarter. From the mind blowing Oculus Rift, to the rather simple, yet futuristic CST-01 e-ink watch, it seemed like the little guys were thinking much about wearable computing. For those of you who don’t know, the CTS-01 is a nicely designed watch with an e-ink display that looks like something from Star Trek. But what I couldn’t stop thinking about was, “what if the screen was a flexible OLED touch display?” To be frank, this is what I want in wearable computer. Sure, the iPod nano was a cool traditional watch design that people hoped Apple would turn into a smart watch. But for whatever reason they changed the iPod nano’s design, leaving some to speculate that Apple could be making room for the REAL iWatch-thingy.
There are already “wearable computers” on the market now that focus on fitness like the Fit-bit, Nike’s Fuel Band, and host of others. However, the device that got every geek dreaming about the possibilities of wearable devices, the Pebble smart watch, scheduled to start shipping in the next few weeks. Not to take anything away from the Pebble, but just like any technology enthusiast, the technology here today is already considered old news and we began looking at what tomorrow will bring.
A 3-inch touch display that ran some variant of iOS, that received my notifications, calls, had accelerometers and Siri, all via Bluetooth 4, would be a magnificent device. It wouldn’t have to have all the power of a smartphone since it would use your existing smartphone as an extended brain. Enough battery to power the screen and handle notifications, as well as the sensors (for fitness tracking) and bluetooth. Of course, the major hurdles are engineering it to make it small and light enough so that you can wear it all the time. Not to mention the price would have to be right. I’d says under $250. I’m not sure if the technology for a flexible touch screen is even ready for mass production yet. With a lot of the core technology still in the prototype phase, we may be a year or two away from such a device. Still, with Google scheduled to launch their version of the wearable computer with Project Glass, I have to believe that there’s something similar to this somewhere in the Apple labs.
Some say hardware innovation is stagnated, but that’s only if you’re looking at the devices that are already available. Sure, smartphones and tablets for the most part have matured as far as hardware is concerned. Companies (mostly Apple), have meticulously sliced and diced as much bloat as they could in order to get devices like iPhone 5 and iPad mini. In the next few years, new forms of devices will begin to appear that will first supplement and then eventually replace those “large” bulky computers we lug around in our pockets now.