Wearable devices are the future of personal tech.
There’s an emerging segment of portable technology available to consumers that may just be the next “big thing” in our digital evolution. These devices help the wearer track activities or perform specific functions like hands-free computing. Beyond that, the rumored Apple iWatch is basically a portable computer disguised as a watch. Ian Fleming would be proud.
Following my introduction to Google Glass, I now wear two portable devices on a daily basis. Nerdy, I know. The FitBit One, which I’ve been sporting for several months, supports my road to healthier living by tracking daily steps, distance traveled, stairs climbed and calories burned. With a little more hands-on effort, the FitBit also lets me record food intake, sleeping patterns and more.
Technology saturation is a growing concern but hasn’t yet slowed my enthusiastic descent into “always on” madness. All this doesn’t stop with just wearing the two devices every day either, I now want – and talk about – bringing the two devices together.
And it’s that combination of useful possibilities across interests and industries that I believe will save Google Glass from becoming a goofball invention like the Segway. The unfortunate comparison, while perhaps inevitable for such disruptive personal technology, was made at the Wearable Tech Expo in New York last week by a panel of venture capitalists. The group said they would not back Google Glass because they’re unsure of the consumer potential. According to GigaOM, John Frankel, a partner at ff Venture Capital, said “It’s too big a change of behavior. It’s technology that sits between you and other people… it feels to me that it’s too impersonal.”
Google Glass does of course have passionate enthusiasts, including all the backers of the Glass Collective who together are funding a community of developers to help shape the future of personal computing through Google Glass. Will they successfully straddle the consumer market in addition to key industries like medicine? Based on my own experiences I believe there will be consumer appetite beyond the initial curiosity, but pricing, interface improvements and application development will obviously play critical roles towards mass adoption.
On a somewhat ironic side note, I saw four guys riding Segways near the San Diego convention center last week while I was wearing Google Glass. True story. Is there a hidden meaning?