The words “wearable” and “technology” are not often two words you will see placed adjacent to one another; yet, the phrase is one that will become a neat concept in the new year, if major tech giants have their way. The idea of wearing the latest gadgets is an area in which companies have yet to invest significantly, but 2013 will change everything.
After Apple introduced the iPod Nano in September 2005, the company LunaTik turned the iPod Nano into an iPod watch. The Nano went from being a small, portable music player to a phenomenon that consumers can wear on their wrists. Now, instead of having to put the Nano in a pocket, the consumer could wear the gadget when running, hiking, walking, or just strolling about in the park. The Nano, in essence, became more mobile. The concept of wearable technology makes this possible.
Apple, however, looks to continue its trend of wearable technology in 2013. Sources say that the Cupertino, California company has plans to create what many call an iWatch that will not go on sale until 2014. The iWatch, it is said, will replace smartphones. After all, smartphones replaced flip phones (also called “dumb phones”); if we as a society are becoming more mobile, then iWatches are the next best thing for Cupertino and its consumers. According to Jay Yarow, “There is a line of thinking that the smartphone era will perish almost as quickly as it began” (The iWatch Could Be the First Step in Apple’s Plan to Kill the iPhone). The iWatch, according to Yarow, is the first step in Apple’s “wearable technology” campaign that could eventually replace the iPhone. The more mobile the technology, the less useful the iPhone will seem to consumers and customers alike.
Apple is not alone in its trend; Cupertino, however, has stolen a page from the book of Samsung Electronics. The Korean-based manufacturer has decided to do in 2013 what no other smartphone manufacturer has ever done, to “go where no one has gone before” – to create flexible smartphones. Apple’s iWatch is an idea that matches Hewlett-Packard’s early flexible smartphone prototype, but Samsung will be the first company to mass-produce the product this year. While Samsung’s smartphones will only be “semi-flexible” at first, we expect them to turn to “Dick Tracy wristwatches” at some point after their entrance onto the market.
Apple and Samsung, however, are not alone in their race to wearable technology; if they are succeeded at all, it is Google that comes out at the top of the race. Prior to Samsung’s flexible smartphone announcement and Apple’s iWatch announcement, the major search engine giant proclaimed its “augmented-reality glasses” as the next tech wave of the future. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been wearing the glasses in both London and the US, showing off what many consumers cannot wait to get their hands on. While Apple emerged with its “glasses” patent last Fall, Google had already filed a patent and beat Apple to the game. Google’s augmented-reality glasses are not the first pair of augmented reality shades, however: Google’s glasses are eclipsed only by Microsoft’s augmented glasses that were filed in a patent back in May 2011. The company filed for its glasses to be used as part of its Xbox game console and the Xbox gaming experience.
Wearable technology, displayed in the forms of glasses, flexible phones, and the iWatch, is only the beginning of a future in which consumers will purchase apparel and gadgets in the same store.