As both a professional and personal interest, I am always researching trends in technology. It’s amazing to see how far consumer electronics and personal computing have evolved in the past 35 years of my life.
As most people know, mobile computing has had an incredible surge in the past few years. Some suggest that the days of the desktop (or tower) computers may be slowly phasing out. More and more people are craving the independence and flexibility that mobile computing has to offer. I can say personally I agree this with quite certainty (as I compose this post via a wireless keyboard and Apple iPad).
One of the newest trends in mobile computing people are hearing more and more about is “wearables” or wearable technology. Although this is not a completely new idea, innovations in digital circuitry and manufacturing processes are allowing designers and engineers to begin reinventing how we use personal technology on a daily basis. Some of the innovations that I have noticed recently have been:
Google Glass | iPod watches | iPhones w/ a curved design
Smart bracelets | Android Wear | Geek shirts
As I mentioned before, wearable technology is not really a new concept. For me (“old school” geek), I can remember some early instances of modern “wearable” technology which could be traced back to the old Casio calculator watches from the 1980s, or watching TV and movies (Dick Tracy / Star Trek). There seems to be a foreseeable need where technology will begin to blend so seamlessly into our lives that it will be unthinkable to get through the day without interacting with or via technology in some form or fashion. Of course that leads to many skeptics who speculate that we as humans are becoming overly dependent on technology for our daily needs.
Sitting here, I can’t help but wonder what living in the next digital age might be. Heck, I even wonder what I might have put in a journal thirty years ago (when I started getting into personal computing) where things might be today.
I can see mobile & wearable technology becoming more prevalent. Products like Google glass will allowusers to embrace augmented reality. What is augmented reality? Well you’ve probably seen it but just didn’t know it. Augmented reality is in essence the ability to superimpose (or overlay) information oer what you normally see.
Examples of augmented reality in use have been real-time maps and directions, advertisements based on geolocation, news feeds, virtual tours, and much more.
Weird as it may seem…but I always thought that some sort of “geek gauntlet” might become popular. While I could see some reasons why certain people or situations may not fit, I think overall the concept could be viable. Inspired by a gauntlet designed by ArmStar (link) as self-defense non-lethal device, it does hint how a gauntlet could be designed to hold electronics geared for personal use. Off the top of my head, I could see some potentials uses such as:
- protect and carry mobile devices (such as an iPhone)
- controls via voice commands
- display via bluetooth (view maps, view messages,etc)
- solar charger
- portable flashlight
- bluetooth connection with mobile device (phone calls, audio recording, etc.)
- digital watch
- health monitoring (pulse, temperature)
Maybe when I get some “free time”, I would put together a mockup in Photoshop or After Effects.
So as I ponder all the wonderful gadgets and possibilities wearables have to offer, there’s another part of me playing “devil’s advocate” which has to ask, “what are the cons to wearable technology?” This poses many questions. Are there any health concerns (considering this would contain devices which emit radio-frequency energy – non-ionizing EM radiation which may cause cancer)? What are the behavioral / psychological effects of using technology so heavily? Could there be bans on use of wearable technology (such as driving or recording)? One author I found suggested that with Google Glass’s front mounted camera, many worry that they are being recorded at all times.
Well, I guess with any technology the benefits must outweigh the drawbacks. But it really seems like we are transcending into an age where technology is blending into our daily personal, professional, and social activities.