For some years now I am following with interest the wearable tech sector.While this is not a new area as we have seen wearable tech 15 years ago, there are some forces nowadays that should help wearable tech reach real mainstream
The Operating System choice has developed from Windows CE and homegrown OS”s into two major camps,Apple and Google who bring along a rich app and follower ecosystem and have the deep pockets to sustain their roadmap.
The trade-in for this easy choice world is of course that you submit your private data and preferences to California. Endeavours to create and maintain a Mobile OS that is data privacy neutral such as Sailfish didn’t really make it as Hardware vendors (who are under great margin pressure) are hesitant to take risks.
Just these days we are seeing that even Microsoft pulls out of the Mobile OS competition being the one who pioneered consumer enabled Mobile OS. Blackberry is giving its own OS and Hardware business not much more then this year if it does contribute growth soon.
Wearable tech hardware benefits from the intense competition on features taking place for 10 years between Smartphone leaders namely Samsung, Apple, HTC and a many Chinese brands.
Do we really need a 8 processor cores in a phone? well if all smartphones use the same OS then features and price are the only way to differentiate in a crowded market.
Thus, prices for mobile hardware have come down massively a CPU starting at 5US$
Interestingly enough the trend to build bigger and bigger phones / screens means that the pressure on manufacturers to make their components smaller is not there so we are seeing Smartwatches build with processors meant for mobile phones.
However the first processor purpose build for smart watches is coming this year (Snapdragon Wear 2100) , means smartwatches will get a lot more compact soon. This processor will have an LTE modem build in so we will see so many more interesting use cases come along.
My wearable tech User Experience
Now for 6 months a wearable tech accompanies wherever I go (Asus Zenwatch 2) here are some observations.
One of the awkward facts of wearable tech is that they need to be charged frequently and people arent really used to that ritual.While the much-hyped Apple Watch does not do more than a work day on a charge, the Zenwatch can go trough 2 dayseven displaying the time throughout, so not bad for such an affordable watch.
There are some other advantages too such as build in speaker and wifi allowing some interesting use cases. Speaking of use cases I find the watch helps me most with the following
– being fully aware of my schedule
– never losing incoming calls
For a sales executive, that’s pretty valuable indeed, but it touches only a little of all the things the watch can do. I find voice recognition still a bit shaky it actually works better on the smartphone itself.
The Android Wear operating system while good in concept still does feel a bit beta, the look & feel is not as sleek as we have become used to from Google Services. The build in apps (calendar, todos etc) are very basic and the powerful hardware (quad core processor, 4GB Storage, 512mb ram) of the watch could support much richer experiences. Just few days ago Google announced a big update coming later this year so this will be interesting to experience.
Here are some apps I have on my watch to enhance the Android Wear experience
I am curious to see what is coming up next in wearable tech, it certainly let the geek only state and will find widespread adoption together with the rise of AI and bots.