Has Wearable Technology Truly Arrived?

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    Oct 28, 2013
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USB Wars! One Socket, 5 devices, the battle begins!
USB Wars! One Socket, 5 devices, the battle begins!
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It used to be the case that the kind of wearable technology that we are seeing on the market today was the stuff of James Bond movies. Bond would swagger into the research labs of the intelligence service, and Q would be testing out a new weird and wonderful gadget.

So have the new devices available on the market signalled a sea change in the way that we use technology?

Are computerised watches ready for the mass market?

The Leap in Technology
It is absolutely incredible the huge strides that technology has made over the last decade.
The smart phone market is a case in point. If you take a look at a Samsung Galaxy S4 HD 5 inch screen, it has the same number of pixels as a £1000 40 inch TV of a few years ago.

The evolution of broadband has been equally impressive. The average UK broadband speeds five years ago were around a third of the average speed today. Fibre-optic broadband cables are rolling around the UK, providing superfast broadband to the masses.

Mobile broadband has taken the leap from dongle deals to MiFi deals. We are seeing 4G connections with speeds upwards of 60 Mb per second. The broadband world has fuelled the developments of mobile technology. No longer do we have to be connected to a wireless network in order to do high intensity activities.

Technology Packed Watches
The new wearable technologies that we are seeing include watches and glasses. Smart watches are not a new thing. In the past we have seen watches that could take pictures, play videos and make phone calls. However the designs were somewhat limited, as they were too bulky.

New Technological Advancements
The development of Bluetooth low energy technology has been a driver towards smaller watches. The screens that we see on the watches also require less power, meaning better battery performance. The size of a watch must be appropriate for the modern day consumer, in order for the technology to hit the mainstream. It is certainly getting there.

Voice-activated technology has also improved markedly over recent years. The level of maturity of voice activation means that wearable watches can now be far more interactive than they were in the past. Push notifications also enhance our ability to interface with our watch phones.

Let’s take a look at three models that are available on the market.

Samsung Galaxy Gear
This smart watch is designed to interface with Galaxy android products. The display is 1.63 inches, and Super AMOLED. It has 320×320 pixel resolution. The processor is an Exynos 800 MHz CPU.
It sports a 1.9 megapixel camera, 4 GB of internal memory storage, a microphone and speaker. It is packed full of power considering its size. That is a rechargeable watch, as you’d expect, and will get you through the day with a single charge.

This watch should get you through several days between charges. This is due to the screen, which is a low-power Mirasol offering. It is chargeable wirelessly by popping it onto a charging pad, meaning you should be able to fit the inconvenience of charging into your busy schedule. We all know it’s very easy to forget to charge your devices.

Sony SmartWatch 2
This watch offers a 1.6 inch 220×176 pixel display. It has an aluminium body and charges using a micro USB port. The device comes with both Bluetooth and NFC, but chooses to omit microphone, speaker and camera options. It should go around three or four days between charges.

Verdict on These Smart Watches
We are an ever more inquisitive but demanding technological populace. We crave innovations but we won’t adopt until they are ready. It seems clear that these watches are not going to become mainstream yet. They are a little large and could do with some rounding of edges (metaphorically).

These are really concept designs providing a base for testing and development of this type of wearable technology.

They will of course be adopted by those who are excited about getting in at the start of this new wave of innovation. And these new early adopters will certainly help the manufacturers to evolve the design principles that they are going to use in the future.

Wearable Technology – The Future
It is clear that the wearable technology of the future will integrate with our lives seamlessly. The smart phones that we have in our pockets these days are incredibly powerful. They come with eight core 1.7 GHz processors, 5 inch high definition displays, and cameras that are akin to standalone cameras just a few years ago.

As consumers, we are willing to pay for the best technology. The smart phone market was buoyant through recession, being one of the only growing sectors year-on-year from 2008.

Manufacturers must get their design principles and offerings right in order to stamp their mark on the market. Many will be reticent about launching and committing too fast too hard, before they are ready to truly make the impact they want.

We should expect a number of concept designs coming onto the market over the next year, before a mass release from a variety of manufacturers in 18 months to 24 months time. It certainly is an exciting time to be a consumer these days.

How far wearable technology will go is hard to know. We will certainly see glasses that can navigate around displays and present us with facts and statistics as we move around. We will see smart watches that are Internet enabled, rather than just paired with our smart phones. We will see watches providing biodata feeding into applications for health monitoring.

Some products will remain niche, targeting certain purposes. Others will gain widespread appeal as people crave the latest innovation in order to have that status symbol on their wrist. The technology is likely to be very affordable. The evolution of technology is happening so fast these days that the price of technology comes down every year.

Author's Profile

Phil Turner uses modern technology but is not a techie. He believes in keeping things inn proportion. Phil was looking up dongle deals for his wi-fi only laptop on comparison sites like uSwitch.

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