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With a recent study hinting at the fact that Indians are among the fastest in the world among people who adapt to wearable tech, we take a look at what forms of tech are people adapting to…
Wearable tech decoded: When accessories or clothing incorporate technology with the purely practical aim of aiding actual day-to-day tasks, they can be said to a part of wearable technology or tech togs. Although there are some rather inane and pure aesthetic uses of wearable tech, like the bluetooth dress that lights up when there is a call. Or even the tee shirt that shows a blinking equaliser, there are a number of gadgets which have helped people immensely. Fitness monitors and testing kits that help keep diabetes in check have helped patients keep their illness in check.
Usefulness: From monitoring vital statistics for people with various ailments, to choosing the music that matches your mood to even just looking up restaurants, wearable tech is fast becoming as a useful, dependable tool. Products that saw such a response earlier were cellphones. And if researchers and market analysts are to be believed, people will adapt to wearable tech faster than they did with cell phones!
Preferred gizmos: Fitness aids are a rage and have registered a sharp increase in sales recently. Gadgets incorporated into accessories and even footwear are being used to keep a check on calories burned, the effectiveness of the workout and even to count the number of steps taken, so as to know make workouts effective. However, now, people are looking at watches to support these features. A recent survey found that 80 percent of Gizmo buyers were interested in fitness monitors, 76 percent were interested in smart watches and 74 percent in internet enabled glasses.
Few trends are hotter than wearable technology at the moment, which takes the form of all manner of weird and wonderful gizmos, the most common being sleek-looking smart watches and groovy-but-geeky Google Glass.
With wearable tech seemingly on every blogger’s lips these days, you’d be mistaken for thinking that 2014 is the year it all goes mainstream – the year when people whisper in hushed tones to their wristwatches whilst making unusual hand gestures in front of faces becomes commonplace.
But while that might seem like the case, it’s almost certainly not going to happen in the next 12 months. For sure, wearable tech is on the up and up, and lots of us are going to start experimenting with the latest new wearable gadgets. But don’t think that wearables are anywhere close to hitting the mainstream just yet – after all, it took several years even for smartphones to catch on with the masses.
In all fairness, it usually takes around two to three years for any kind of technology trend to really catch on – far slower than the mass media says it will. Which is why the smart money is on the connected home finally reaching the tipping point, becoming a real consumer trend way faster than anything we can slap on our wrists or our heads.
All the evidence suggests that it already is. Just last week, Google splashed out a not-insignificant $3.2 billion Nest, maker of the smart thermostat and smoke detector, while British Gas is going all-out in my native UK with its Hive ‘active heating’ advertisements splashed all over the TV. We’re also seeing a rise in security breaches too – a tell-tale sign that a technology is catching on if ever there was one – with reports of smart fridges and other home appliances being targeted by hackers and used to send email spam.
What this all means is that the connected home is set to become one of the most important sources of Big Data, even more so that Google has its fingers in the pie. While consumers will benefit from being able to automate their home environment, and perhaps even save some money too, the end game for companies like Google has nothing to do with making our lives more convenient. More important to Google is the data that Nest’s and other devices will generate. Okay, so Nest data is only used to “improve its products” at this moment in time, but you can bet your connected house that things won’t stay that way.
In the wake of Google’s Nest acquisition last week, I pointed out that it’ll help to speed up the so-called “smart grid”, but it’ll only happen at the cost of your privacy, and that’s going to worry a lot of people. Right now there are several signs that the connected home is all set to become mainstream, and with privacy concerns already high on our agenda in the wake of the NSA’s spying revelations, 2014 could be the year that things come to a head.
The Next Web reports that “Is that Google Glass? Is it really cool?” Those words, spoken by the ticket taker at Disney’s California Adventure park were the first and last time anyone mentioned my head mounted computer on a recent trip. Unlike a lot of other places I’ve worn it, including at WWDC last week in San Francisco, no one at the park seemed to care what I was wearing on my face.
Chalk it up to the kind of insular group socializing going on at the park, or an innate feeling of personal privacy at one of the most public places in the world. Everyone seemed to simply mind their own business, even in lines. As a longtime Disney-goer, I’m well familiar with the sort of conceit it takes to pretend that the people standing next to you in a queue for 45 minutes aren’t sick of the sight of you or aren’t able to hear everything you say. Maybe it’s an American thing, but people simply don’t speak to one another that way.
Casey Johnston reports that the long arms of the law from multiple countries are reaching out to Larry Page, taking his shoulder, and saying, “So, exactly how do those Google glasses work, anyway?” On Wednesday, 10 government and privacy officials sent the company a letter formally requesting that Google explain how it plans to prevent the glasses from turning into creep-enabling devices.
Canada, Mexico, Israel, Australia, and Switzerland are among the countries represented (for its part, the US got in touch with Google about Glass privacy concerns in May). Questions include what privacy safeguards Google will put in place, what information Google will collect from Glass and how it will be used, whether the company has considered the “broader social and ethical issues” at hand with respect to how users may collect information on those around them, and whether the company has undertaken any privacy risk assessment studies.
Mackenzie Yang reports that while privacy watchdogs fret over the possibility that people wearing Google Glass might photograph or even video record others without their knowledge, at least one tech luminary is predicting that someday we’ll grow so comfortable with the wearable technology that we’ll feel “naked and lonely” without it.
Marc Andreessen, who co-created the first mainstream web browser and is now a leading Silicon Valley investor, told CNBC on Wednesday: “I believe in the dream … the idea of having the internet with you all the time, being able to see, like, literally have the internet in your field of vision.
Stephen L. Carter reports that no sooner had Google Inc. (GOOG) yielded to popular pressure to bar facial-recognition applications from Google Glass than techies split into two factions: those who called the ban an outrage that would hurt law enforcement and medical care, and those who said the ban would make no difference because sooner or later the wall was bound to fall.
The original concern rested on the notion that wearable facial-recognition technology would constitute a threat to privacy — the privacy, for example, of those who would prefer to walk the streets unrecognized. Google’s position continues to be that privacy concerns about Glass are overblown. I think the long run will prove Google right, for reasons less technological than generational.
Adario Strange reports that initial reactions to Google Glass ranged from excitement about the future of wearing computing to fears that the head-mounted device would invade everyone’s privacy. However, as the weeks wear on, it’s clear that, at least in popular culture terms, Glass is slowing morphing into the kind of geek flag that doesn’t necessarily signal “cool.”
In what could be a bid to help remind the public of the benefits of the device, the Glass team has just posted a new video that shows off a playful round of random searches during the course of a normal day. The demo is indeed impressive, rendering answers through the device that make it clear that it’s essentially like wearing an encyclopedia of the world’s collected knowledge on your face at all times.