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Introducing The Wearable Device You Forgot You Already Had

31/12/2014 16:50 GMT | Updated 01/03/2015 10:59 GMT

You would have had to have been living under a rock not to have heard about wearables in 2014 - the next big thing in connected devices. The buzz looks set to get even louder with the forthcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January, where wearables look set to be a major trend.

From fitness trackers to smart watches to the much hyped but already ill-fated Google Glass, wearables promise to deliver an even greater synergy between our digital and physical selves.

And yet, despite all the interest in this next generation of devices, one wearable device has already achieved mass adoption. Almost two billion of these devices are in circulation, but it gets little recognition in the fevered discussion about wearable technology.

Chances are one's right under your nose. I'm talking of course about your smartphone.

Recent research found that on average, we look at our smartphones 150 times a day. Digging deeper into the research, 150 times a day was the average - some people in the study looked at their devices an astonishing 900 times a day. That's pretty much once every waking minute.

Think about the ergonomics of that for a moment. The reason we don't consciously clock the time we spend searching for our phones in our bags and our pockets hundreds of times a day is because they don't live there anymore. They increasingly remain in our hands.

So in a very real sense, smartphones have become wearable.

Smartphones are now our constant companion. The first thing we look at in the morning. The last thing we turn to at night. Our significant other. The lens through which we view the world and through which the world views us.

Our relationship with the smartphone runs deep. They're rewiring our brains and changing our very sense of the real. We've moved from experiencing life to documenting it. Instagram or it didn't happen.

And it's no longer enough just to document and broadcast our lives. We feel the need to document ourselves experiencing life - witness the rise of the selfie. The smartphone has given us access to technology until recently the preserve of brands, broadcasters and shadowy government agencies. Armed with these new mobile superpowers, we consumers have become individual brands, marketing our first-person lived experience across social networks in real-time. And the selfie is our logo.

What hope does the new raft of wearable devices have against such entrenched competition? Rather than compete to replace the smartphone, new wearable devices are companion devices - requiring connection to a smartphone to function or to visualise the data they produce.

The forthcoming Apple watch, Google Glass, Fitbit et al - they are simply accessories to our fundamental smartphone dependency. They offer additional wearable functionality, but none are pretenders to the smartphone throne. None promise to truly give us our hands back. And none let us take that all-important selfie.

So what could replace the smartphone? Rather than smart watches or augmented glasses, I'm following the money and betting on a technology that Facebook, Amazon and Google have all invested in. Drone technology.

Increasingly small, efficient and affordable, drone technology has emerged from the defence industry and rapidly seeped into mainstream consumer electronics. Many of the hundreds of different drones available come with a mounted camera - perfect for documenting our lives and taking selfies, but could they be used for more?

Could drones potentially replace the smartphone?

Nixie is a start-up out of Harvard University, currently in the early-prototype stage but with big ambitions. It's a miniature drone equipped with a camera that can be worn on the wrist. A tap and the drone releases, hovering around you and filming your every move.

Add a flexible touchscreen, voice, GPS, additional processing power and connectivity to this concept design and you have all the ingredients of a smartphone - but one that can live on the wrist or fly free when required.

A new generation of wearables is certainly coming, but until they offer all the functionality of a smartphone and more, they won't truly take off.