Tech companies seem to be desperate to get us to not only carrying their tech with us everywhere we go, but also to get us to wear their tech too. We’ve already talked about Google Glass and what it could mean for app developers, but there’s another side to the wearable tech race that is currently happening in the mobile world.
(UPDATE 2017: Pretty much sure wearable tech is here to stay.)
Wearable Tech is Coming
With Apple’s iWatch not being officially confirmed, but at least heavily rumoured from reliable sources like the Wall Street Journal who have apparently been speaking to sources involved in the project, Samsung has recently announced that they are in the smartwatch mix with their own version of the tech and whilst Google, again, hasn’t confirmed anything, there are strong rumours that something like a smartwatch is in the pipeline. Then of course there are Pebble and its ilk, independent companies who have tried to get in on the act before the big boys muscle in and take all the customers.
So is this just companies seeing a good idea and then copying each other? Is it just a natural evolution? Or is it something closer to the middle?
Well, it’s hard to tell exactly, but consider this. It was confirmed a while ago that Google has at least 100 R&D projects running at any one time, all going down different avenues of innovation. That, however, is apparently a very conservative number that has likely been said so that Google’s competitors don’t think they’re blanketing the innovation world. P&G have said that they reckon they themselve have over 400 projects running simultaneously, so Google, one of the largest tech companies in the world, only having 100 projects seems strange and unlikely.
Samsung and Apple are highly likely to be the same, and if you think about it, a picture starts to form of why wearable tech has suddenly come into the fore. All of these companies have been already working on tech like this for years, or have at least got the components that could make up this tech scattered around thier seperate research projects, which makes it fairly easy for them to create a targeted project towards a specific goal quite easily.
For example, Google patented a Smartwatch like technology last year with “dual flip up screens” and a camera. Apple have a patent on a “slap bracelette” style system that hints at them wanting to put flexible displays into the iWatch and Samsung have already revealed to the world at CES that they are making flexible displays. Heck, even Nokia has talked about flexi-displays on smartwatches at one point.
The thing to watch, however, will be the iWatch. Apple are masters of taking a look at what’s come before them, finding the flaws and then releasing their own higher quality, sexily designed version that then becomes the benchmark for everything else out there. Samsung and Google are old hands at this game as well by now though, so this will be a very interesting set of technology releases when they happen. More than anything they represent what our mobile industry has become in the years since the original iPhone launched back in 2007.
Back then Apple were kings of the hill and nothing any other tech companies could do could stop them going from strength to strength. Now things are much different, and a lot more balanced. The players know each other’s tricks and each other’s favourite angles to push things at, so now innovation becomes a game of looking at multiple avenues, and then pulling the disparate threads of research together when the zeitgiest says that it wants a specific type of technology.
Does this mean that we, the customers, are now in control of what tech we get?
Perhaps, with the death of Steve Jobs the tech world seems to have lost one of the great minds who could convince us that what he had was what we wanted. Unless another personality like Jobs appears it seems likely that the market is going to shift towards “we the people” but again, it’s hard to tell.
These are certainly interesting times we live in though, and as app developers you have plenty of current and upcoming opportunities to use new and exciting tech in ways that the creators haven’t even thought of yet and make your customers very happy people.