A big tech trend in 2014 is wearable technology.
This week, all the buzz in the tech world is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and stealing the show will be devices you can wear. These devices can be worn on all sorts of your body parts, help you track everything from your fitness, by Fitbit, to the new Google Glass which you can wear to add a digital layer to the real world.
But I want an Iron Man suit, not Google Glass. Let me explain.
There has been a lot of innovation in technology that you can wear in the last few years. From watches to glasses, startups and established companies alike are moving to what seems to be the next logical device plain, technology that moves with you, on your arm, on your head, or in the clothes you wear.
But nothing has yet really broken through. (Maybe with the exception of Nike Fuelband). But, as exciting as wearable technology maybe for some people, until I can have my very own Iron Man suit, I'm very happy doing what I need to on a smart phone, thanks.
You see, I can really appreciate the benefits of an Iron man suit, making the inconvenience of wearing it truly worthwhile. It would let me fly really high, bust through walls, fire missiles from my hands and other things that generally help you save the world. That's my kind or wearable technology. I can't say the same for Google glass.
The problem with most of the currently available wearable devices is that they are small. And I don't need a smaller device, such as a watch, or glasses. Most people, so far, are the same. In fact, this is why smartphone and mobile devices have gotten a little bigger over the last few years because it's clear we like reasonably sized screens we can carry around that we can actually see, when we're watching a movie / playing a game / writing an email. Remember that trend 10 years ago for devices to be getting smaller, rendering them almost useless, with smaller buttons and screens? It didn't last.
Consumers clearly want an immersive experience from technology. Yes, yes, I know. You can argue that experience can come via Google Glass, but you could also argue that it's still too soon. We're still happily getting used to doing all sorts of interesting things on our devices, easily portable, with a separation from the digital and physical worlds. I have no doubt there are all sorts of 'early adopters' who will give Google Glass a try, but Im just not one of them, yet.
And this is why, the industry thinking goes, that the wearable technology market is going to get a whole lot bigger over the next few years, as consumers start to adapt to using technology in new ways. It's inevitable more people will be wearing technology in 5 years from now, than they do today. But how many more? There were many more people using mini-discs in 2000 than compared to 1997, but does anyone ever remember those?
Despite the challenge, according to Juniper Research, the global sector for wearable technology will will grow from it's current £878m of annual sales to some £11.9bn by 2018. Whilst, technology research firm Gartner is more cautious suggesting a £6bn for 2016, that's still a 10x increase over the next 4 years, even on the more conservative basis!
The last big wearable tech release was the Samsung Galaxy Watch, released in the autumn 2013 with mixed industry and consumer reviews. But soon, we'll all be watching / hearing about Google Glass, not just because its by Google, but because its the first wearable technology product that's had a lot of buzz and interest within the tech community. But until I can have a suit that I can fly around in, I'm happy with just a smartphone thanks.
What is Google Glass exactly? Take a look at the official Google video.