From interactive glasses to bizarre smartwigs, wearable technology looks set to become a reality in the near future. Vision explores the impact on our daily lives
Star Trek has a lot to answer for. When Google announced it would be developing Google Glass, its Vice President said that the company had been inspired by the adventures of Captain James T Kirk, in which a voice-controlled computer helped the Starship Enterprise’s crew with daily tasks. In the case of Google Glass, that means directions flashing up in front of your eyes simply by asking for them. Or taking pictures and video, searching the internet or reading news headlines as you walk or talk. But such wearable technology is no longer something for Stardate 2260. In 2014, the gadgets we wear rather than keep in our pockets will be gradually woven into daily life.
Google Glass still doesn’t have a general release date - it’s currently still in the “explorer program” phase for interested early adopters - but is likely to hit the market later in 2014. Until it does, smartwatches tethered wirelessly to a mobile phone are providing most of the interest in wearable technology.
Crowdfunded company Pebble enticed the early adopters with their relatively inexpensive watch, which syncs messages from phone to wrist and offers some basic apps. Sony, however, upped the ante with its Smartwatch 2, it’s fair to say that it has limited use without being paired with an Android phone. But when it is, Smartwatch 2 can handle calls, and sync text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter updates. It’s more impressive, certainly, than Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, which only works with a Samsung device and which even the company admitted “lacks something special”.
Indeed, all smartwatches have limitations right now, which is why all eyes are on a potential iWatch from Apple in October 2014, as it’s likely to do more than just mirror a smartphone’s screen. Rumours suggest Apple became convinced that an iWatch could be its next big new gadget after seeing Nike’s new Fuelband SE, a really accomplished bracelet which tracks your fitness activity before uploading the results to an app. In a sense it makes a healthy lifestyle a game, letting you compare your results to other people in your gender or age group.
All of which sounds quite sensible. So for the truly bizarre, look out for Sony’s SmartWig. It’s only in the patent phase at the moment, but the idea is that you’ll place this device - made from anything from feathers to human hair - on your head and be able to process data and communicate wirelessly with other external devices. Not even Star Trek had that one...