Although it is too early to tell whether wearable technology is here to stay or yet another passing fad, hardware manufacturers and software developers are pursuing this latest opportunity in an attempt to attract new customers and generate valuable revenue.
However, even with an increasing amount of time and money spent on exploring wearable technology, numerous critics, commentators and even consumers remain sceptical about its real-world application.
Nonetheless, for interested parties there are a fair few devices already on the market and even more on the way. So here are five wearable technology products that you can buy today or eagerly anticipate in the future.
1. Google Glass
One of the most talked about product innovations in recent years has also been one of the most ridiculed. Even so, Google Glass has sparked significant interest among industry professionals and technology fans worldwide. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, here is a quick recap.
Google Glass features an optical head-mounted display which projects smartphone-like information right in front of the user’s eyes. Rather than inputting information physically, interaction with Glass is made via natural language voice commands. It is Google’s mission to create a mass-market ubiquitous computer.
Connecting to the Internet via the user’s smartphone, Google Glass can take pictures, record videos, search online content, receive point-by-point directions, translate dialogue into another language and send voice messages. Although the design might not be to everyone’s liking, the display is meant to be an unobtrusive object in the individual’s eye line.
Widespread availability isn’t expected until 2014 though.
2. Sony SmartWatch
For those who want to obtain some wearable technology today, you might consider the more subtle and indistinct Sony SmartWatch. Available from just £79, this interactive hands-free device won’t break the bank either.
Combing a sleek and crisp design with everyday functionality, Sony’s SmartWatch will certainly be of interest to a fashion conscious on-the-go market. However it’s admirable merits don’t end there.
Compatible with most Android smartphones, users can read text messages and emails, browse Twitter feeds or view Facebook messages, and receive calendar notifications thanks to a gentle vibration. What’s more, music players and fitness apps are available from the Google Play store.
3. Nike+ FuelBand
Nike and Apple have been collaborating together for quite some time, dating back to running shoes made in conjunction with the iPod Nano in 2006. Today, the Nike+ FuelBand is an iPhone connected bracelet that aims to assist fitness freaks with their calorie burning targets.
The band’s accelerometer tracks daily movements and exercise routines like running, football or even dancing. Progress is displayed on the FuelBand’s LED display, which lights up red, yellow or green depending on how well the user is doing. Additional information can be viewed on the connected iOS device, with data about activity patterns displayed in the form of graphs.
If personal achievements weren’t enough, the user can even share their progress on Facebook or Twitter with an optional photo or tagged location. While the Nike+ FuelBand is undoubtedly an impressive motivational tool, its £129 price point is sure to put off even the most dedicated individual.
4. Pebble E-Paper Watch
Another connected smartwatch but available to iPhone users as well, Pebble has been financed via the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. The Pebble features a 1.26-inch 144×168 pixel black and white ultra low power memory LCD screen with backlight, vibrating motor, magnetometer, ambient light sensors and a three-axis accelerometer.
Much like Sony’s offering, the Pebble displays email, text messages, calendar alerts and social media notifications as well as weather forecasts and incoming caller IDs. However, customisable apps for cycling, running and golf in addition to a range of watch faces increases the device’s functionality.
Perhaps the most clever innovation is a modified USB-cable that attaches to the watch magnetically and charges the device, so as not to compromise water resistance.
5. Apple iWatch
Ok, so we know there has been no official word from Apple about the possibility of an iWatch, but a wearable technology product from the Cupertino-based company is looking more and more likely.
Even though Apple recently registered the iWatch trademark in Japan, Mexico, Russian, Taiwan and Turkey, the maker of the iPhone and iPad is already facing difficulties in the US, UK, parts of Europe and China, as other companies have already claimed the name.
Despite this potential setback, sources familiar with the matter have said that around 100 product designers are working on a smart wristwatch. Like other products on the market, it is likely to display notifications, alerts and messages from a user’s iOS device.
With Apple looking to increase its consumer base and rekindle some lost magic after the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs, CEO Tim Cook recently admitted that wearable technology was “profoundly interesting” and was “ripe for us to get excited about.”
iWatch Image courtesy of Fuse Chicken