Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Help Me Obi-Watch Konobi, You are My Only Device: SmartWatches and Accessory Tech

The song remains the same, with a new back beat. In elementary school, calculator watches were the bee’s knees…”you can play Pacman on that!” was the common refrain.

The growth of smartphones has led to the decline in many things, watches among the list of causalities. A mainstay of 20th century fashion, watches are now rarely seen on the below-30 set; witness the hundreds of students who pass through my classrooms each year.

Retro is as retro does. The growth of smart-rings has inevitably led to a rethink on watches, with a number of interesting offerings hitting the market. Here is a roundup of the top entrants at CES 2013.

The classic scene from Star Wars where Leia records a message on R2D2 is no longer a flight of fancy. Imagine a watch that can display 3D visuals from an aperture. The ability to record audio and visual; a decent mic will be necessity or we will all look like secret service agents talking into our wrists.
  • Watches with SD cards that can be transferred to mobile devices
  • Watches that act as mobile hotspots
  • Watches that provide GPS that links to mobile devices
  • Watches that give speech reminders of events, calendars, text updates, tweets, & voicemails.
  • Watches that interact with a person’s biological functions, sending signals to embed tech inside the body which can influence psychophysiology
  • Watches that act as USB charging ports
  • Watches that boost processing power of mobile devices
  • Watches that allow for quick scans on public transportation
  • Watches that hold important (protected, encrypted) medical information of victims for first responders
  • Watches that beam 3D image overlays with scrolling information about the environment
  • Watches that track health and fitness

A wearable Google watch that interacts with Google Glasses and a Nexus 7… iCyborg, ready to travel the multiverse.

Watch-tech, is of course, only the beginning. Belts that read bio-information. Jackets that regulate heat. Glasses that do…well everything. The medical implications on better care and quicker responses are enormous. Eventually we will be able to overlay thin bio-techno films on our bodies that will influence human functioning in dramatic ways.

As with all technology, issues of scalability, flexibility, cost, legality, and environmental impact will influence the growth of wearable tech.   

Here is a roundup of Mashable articles on wearable tech that provide a few glimpses into the future/now of wearable technologies.

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