Last week the Wearable Tech Expo took place in New York City, bringing with it new glimpses into an exciting avenue for tech companies. While convenient, modern technology has struggled to move beyond phones, and the potential for a transformative product remains obvious. Google Glass is of course the most high-profile piece of wearable tech, but it has proved a divisive technology that has not been as widely embraced as Google might have expected. The next frontier may well be something less potentially revolutionary: the humble wristwatch.
Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all filed patents for smart watches, which seek to offer the kinds of features that elevated smartphones above mere communication tools. Intriguingly, the ultimate aims of these products seem to be rather different, suggesting that the wearable tech market is wide open. Microsoft’s potential offering has the features one would expect from smart technology—a music player, touchscreen phone, and messaging functionality—but also emphasizes health and fitness. Using the position of the device on the wearer, Microsoft may even have aims to allow for blood glucose monitoring and UV sunlight warning systems. Apple’s patent—perhaps unsurprisingly—seeks to offer an aesthetic and functionality similar to Apple’s other products, with gesture-based controls providing new interface options. Google’s approach is less straightforward, and at this point the company seems to be focusing on an OS that can be licensed to hardware developers instead of manufacturing its own device.
These are just three wearable devices in development, and they paint a picture of an exciting time for software developers. If wearable tech proves popular, the doors will be open for companies to develop new applications customized for a new form of technology. There are still many questions. Will wearable tech utilize familiar platforms—allowing for new opportunities for universal apps—or will they require investment in completely new development environments and approaches? Will the wearable tech market support a proliferation of apps in the same way the smartphone market did? These questions will only be answered once consumers get the chance to try these products for themselves. In the meantime, what do you think about wearable tech? Is it something you think will work for your company, or is it a technological dead end? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @syncfusion.