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There can only be one: Smartphones are the PCs of the future

In 10 years, tablets computers will be archaic and obsolete. You will look back at the early 2000s, perhaps with an inquisitive child sitting on your knee, and laugh at how you carried around a cumbersome, neck-straining, gorilla arm-inducing, larger-than-pocket-size computer. “It made sense at the time…”

Desktops and laptops too, having already begun their slide into outmoded antiquity, will soon be nothing more than dusty cupboard-dwelling relics and museum exhibits.

The one form factor that will remain — the last and only bastion of consumer computing — will be the smartphone.

Inevitability

Flexible OLED screen (by Pioneer, not KodakOver the last five years, smartphones have proven that they’re immensely capable. Through the continuing miniaturization of tech and Moore’s law, smartphones are now almost as powerful as a desktop or laptop PC. In a few years, everything you do on your laptop today will be achievable on a smartphone. So why continue to use a laptop?

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Samsung unveils standalone Gear S 3G smartwatch: Awesome, until the battery runs out after an hour

Whether you like it or not, it seems this fall will be all about the smartwatch. This morning, following LG’s tease of the round-faced (but awfully named) G Watch R, Samsung has unveiled the curved Gear S — the first major smartwatch with its own 3G connection, allowing it to send/receive calls and generally act as an internet-connected smart device without being paired to a nearby smartphone. And on top of all that, it seems Apple will unveil an iWatch alongside the iPhone 6 at its September 9 event. Is the world ready for a standalone smartwatch? Do we even have the battery technology to allow a 3G smartwatch to run for more than a few hours?

Samsung Gear S smartwatch, white and black, front and back

The Samsung Gear S is the company’s first standalone smartwatch, using a built-in 3G connection to make/receive calls and texts, and to pull down notifications, emails, and so on from the internet. The Gear S, like the Gear 2 and Gear Neo, runs the Tizen operating system. The smartwatch will come preloaded with S Health, Nike+ Running, and Nokia’s Here maps for navigation. There are a ton of sensors that allow the Gear S to act as a fitness band, as well as something that vaguely resembles a very small smartphone. With Google wading into the wearables arena with Android Wear, I have a feeling that Tizen smartwatches won’t be around for long.

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Apple’s iWatch is finally coming in September: Are you ready for the wearable revolution?

After years of rumors, leaks, and false starts, it seems the stars will finally swing into alignment this fall: Apple is will unveil an iWatch smartwatch alongside a new large-screen iPhone 6 at an event on September 9, according to the latest reports. Presumably the iWatch will also be released to the public alongside the iPhone 6 a week or two later. Previous rumors had pointed to an October unveil for the iWatch, but it seems Apple has moved it forward — possibly in response to the Samsung Gear S, LG G Watch R, and the Moto 360, all of which will be released over the next month or two. Just as the iPhone and iPad popularized the smartphone and tablet, will the arrival of the iWatch signal the beginning of the wearable computing revolution?

Apple iWatch concept

Over the last couple of months, Apple’s (AAPL) stock price has been buoyed by Wall Street’s belief that, at long last, a new segment-defining device was on its way. Last week Apple’s stock price finally rose back above its September 2012 peak. It would seem that, after a couple of years of uncertainty — the echo of Steve Jobs’ death, essentially — the stock market finally thinks that Apple is ready to do more than just squeeze its iPhone cash cow for billions of dollars in profits every quarter.

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Real-time emotion detection with Google Glass: An awesome, creepy taste of the future of wearable computers

The wily geniuses at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have created the world’s first real-time emotion detection app for Google Glass. The app (glassware, as Google prefers to call it) can also accurately detect someone’s age or gender. All of the analysis is carried out on-board — the cloud isn’t used; the raw data (which might be sensitive in nature) never leaves the Glass device. Real-time emotion detection could be of great use for people with disorders such as autism, who often struggle to interpret facial expressions, or simply for people who struggle to divine their partner’s true emotional state when they say that they’re “fine.”

Fraunhofer Google Glass emotion detection, happy

Fraunhofer’s Google Glass app is based on its tried-and-tested SHORE (Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition Engine) system. SHORE started off as an object-detection computer vision system, but over the years it has developed into a face detection and fine facial analysis system. It can pick out a person’s face with a 91.5% success rate, and tell you that person’s gender 94.3% of the time. It can even take a stab at the person’s age. Previously, SHORE — which is essentially a highly optimized C++ library — has been deployed on various computer systems, from PCs to tablets. Now, Fraunhofer IIS has squeezed all of that facial analysis goodness onto Google Glass’s rather wimpy hardware (1GB of RAM, dual-core TI OMAP 4430 SoC). Watch the video below; it’s a little bit scary how accurate the system is at detecting gender, age, and emotional state.

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Technology: If the device fits, wear it…but only if the price is right

wearables will potentially increase the number of devices accessing networks by a hundred-fold over the next five to seven years.

THE technology rumour mills are, as ever, running hot. This time it’s all about wearable computing devices.

Google Glass controversial web-connected specs are due to hit the market some time this year; up to 10,000 pairs are said to be already on the faces of testers worldwide.

And an increasing number of feverish reports claim yet again that Apple is close to announcing a wrist-worn i-Watch.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has been sighted wearing one. It’s said to be a Pebble, mainly used for tracking fitness, but who knows? Perhaps it’s a prototype iWatch in disguise. DoubleClick doesn’t know whether the rumours are right or not.

But we do know the computing market hype machine has sprung into life in recent months, with just about every major manufacturer other than Apple announcing plans for a wearable gadget, and many more minor ones and wannabes bouncing ideas for similar gadgets on KickStarter, the website that helps raise funds for startups.

Some pundits are proclaiming the Year of the Wearable, but DoubleClick has some doubts, as do some of the more cautious IT trends-consulting firms.

Many wearable gadgets are on the way, but early acceptance may be restrained, and it could be next year before the market begins to take off, if then.

There are two types of wearable devices: things worn on your face, like Google Glass, and those worn on your wrist or arm, which include fitness-reading bands such as the Jawbone as well as e-watches like the Pebble.

Google Glass is certainly the most controversial of the moosh-mounted wearables. You wear a small headset that looks like a pair of very slim specs, but which has a little display device mounted just above your right eye.

It can take pictures of what’s around you and record conversations, sometimes unbeknown to those nearby. It can also display weather reports, phone messages and so-called “augmented reality” information about nearby objects, perhaps bars or restaurants or maybe supermarket items.

Wearing Google Glass in a bar or restaurant is strictly a no-no, and they’re also frowned on in company meetings. In the US, several people have been nabbed for wearing them while driving.

Current test versions of Google Glass sell to approved folk for about $US1500 ($1674), but this is expected to come down to $500 or so if and when the things come to market.

Google won’t have this market to itself. Other makers who already have head-mounted gear in the market, or are planning to, include Oculus, PivotHead, Epson, and Lumus.

Then there’s the Avegant Glyph headset, a heavyweight affair that wraps right around your eyes and ears. It doesn’t display information on a screen — it delivers movies, video games and video calls direct on to your retinas. Safe? Let’s hope so.

In the wristband wearable department, a typical example is the Jawbone Up, sometimes described as a pedometer disguised as a bracelet. It coils around your wrist and measures three matters: how you move, how you sleep, and what you eat.

Like most other wearables, you must plug it into a mobile phone to transfer data to an app that stores the figures. The Jawbone Up sells in Australia for about $150.

Other fitness trackers include Nike’s FuelBand and Garmin’s forthcoming Vivofit.

Samsung since September has been marketing the $369 Gear, an e-wristwatch that links to its Galaxy smartphone and Note phablets. It notifies users of incoming phone messages, displays weather reports, includes a tiny camera and captures voice recordings. Yes, it also tells the time.

Sony has been in the wearable market longer than most with its SmartWatch, which sells for about $240 in Australia.

But at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sony unveiled a forthcoming and completely different wrist device: the Core, a very slim band that is not so much a fitness tracker as a lifestyle logger. You wear it always, and it tracks your movements, your sleep patterns, your movie watching and even the weather on a particular day.

Linked to Sony’s LifeLog app, it gives a record of everything you’ve done, day in and day out, possibly even some things you don’t want to be reminded of. Pricing and release date are yet to be revealed.

US-based Pebble has produced a number of reasonably successful e-watches. The latest, dubbed the Steel, is good looking in steel and Gorilla Glass and has a growing number of apps that can be swapped on and off via iPhone or Android mobiles.

The Steel can be ordered from Pebble’s US-based online store at getpebble.com, $US249 ($278). Standard (ie, slow) shipping is free; courier delivery within five business days costs $28.

Other outfits that have announced plans to launch wearable gadgets in coming months, among them Taiwan’s Acer, Asus and HTC and South Korea’s LG, though details are sparse.

Is there a place for all. How big will the wearable market get?

Nowhere near as big as some of the wild estimates coming out of the US and Asia, according to Deloitte consulting.

At a media briefing in Sydney a few weeks ago, Deloitte executives suggested that the smart fitness-band market, while moderately healthy, would never go mainstream.

It estimated the total market for fitness bands and smart watches this year would be about four million bands and two million watches: pretty small beer compared with the booming markets for smartphones and tablets.

Deloitte suggested smart glasses would generate more revenue — especially from businesses and mining groups, where they might fill a niche for safety products — with sales of about four million at an average $US500 each.

DoubleClick’s advice: even if your interest in the wearable genre has been piqued, don’t rush to the stores just yet.

There’s hopefully better stuff -maybe even something that’s really useful — and lower prices yet to come.

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ITPRO: Google Glass: 10 use cases for wearable technology

As Virgin Atlantic and NYPD trial Google Glass, we look at the other potential business uses…

Google has yet to confirm a release date for Glass, but the technology is already being trialed by a variety of industries including airlines, hospitals and police forces.

Having tried the latest version of Glass, we can see the potential of the device. The ability to take photos and video as well as bring up information from the internet via the head-mounted display make Glass a powerful tool. Despite Glass still being in the beta phase, it’s real-world applications are there for all to see and we take a look at 10 scenarios where it will be a good fit.

1. Healthcare

Glass can make a huge difference in hospitals to increase the efficiency of staff and accuracy of treatment given to patients.

The camera will play a pivotal role – allowing nurses or doctors to scan barcodes and NFC tags to identify patients, bring up medical records and verify the correct medication and dosage is being applied. Below we can see how SAP envisages Glass could be used in combination with its HANA technology.

 

Surgeons have already used Glass during operations. Sharing videos via Hangouts allows them to impart knowledge to students and seek real-time assistance from specialists who may be halfway across the world.

 

During operations, the HUD can also provide important images to surgeons, meaning that they don’t have move away from the patient. On the compliance side, recording the surgery can be used to find out why something went wrong during the the procedure, and help settle any complaints.

 

2. Airports

 

This week, Virgin Atlantic commenced a six-week trial of Google Glass at Heathrow airport. The airline announced Glass will be used by concierge staff at the Upper Class wing, with the aim of providing a more personalised customer service.

 

Glass will be used to process check-ins and provide passengers with information about their flight, as well as details of the weather and suggested activities at their destination. It can also aid translation queries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgin will consider a wide-scale deployment and will work on improving functionality if it deems the trial successful. Other potential applications include the ability to provide staff with details of passenger’s dietary requirements.

 

3. Augmented Reality 

 

Glass can superimpose information over real-world happenings, which will allow the tourism and leisure industry to enhance and support the customer experience.

 

City and museum tours can be brought to life by overlaying historicals buildings and artwork with key facts or audio descriptions. Users will also be able to take pictures and video and email the files to themselves so they can capture memories hands-free.

 

If Glass ends up being mainstream, as Google hopes, then a few years from now we will be living in an augmented reality world. Simple tasks like food and clothes shopping will be revamped. Apps could be developed allowing Glass to highlight the health benefits of foods and any promotions. Retail assistants will be able help customers with their queries on the shop-floor by providing information on products and checking stock levels.

Even the construction, retail and real estate agencies will benefit from augmented reality. When designing buildings, bridges and vehicles, the architects, builders and engineers will be able to pop on Glass and see what the finished article should look like, instead of relying on 2D blueprints or pictures.

Similarly, those selling or letting houses will be able to provide real-world tours without having to get clients to visits all properties. This could save the buyers/renters time as they would only need to visit houses in the real world they like the look of in the virtual world.

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Global Travel Industry News: Virgin Atlantic first in world to use wearable technology to serve passengers

Virgin Atlantic passengers will be the first air travelers to experience the benefits of pioneering Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, in an innovative pilot scheme which starts today. Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing will be using wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalized customer service yet.

Virgin Atlantic first in world to use  wearable technology to serve passengers

The cutting-edge technology is being introduced asVirgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel. The results show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened. Virgin Atlantic is joining with passengers and calling on the industry to introduce more innovations and radical fresh thinking to meet sky-high consumer expectations.

Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first in the industry to test how the latest wearable technology, including Google Glass, can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. From the minute Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service. During the six-week pilot, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.

Virgin Atlantic’s new solution replaces an existing process for serving passengers traveling in the Upper Class Wing, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow dedicated to Upper Class passengers. Airline staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.

Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers. Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said: “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality. At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”

Virgin Atlantic continues to push the boundaries with other technological advancements with SITA, including testing iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow, a new low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS Apple devices of nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules. In addition, Virgin Atlantic’s newly enhanced mobile site means passengers will be able to book flights, check in online and check their flight status on the move, while also having access to the vast range of information on the main website, including destination and airport guides as well as details of baggage allowances and much more.

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