Wearable Computers: The Next Level of Mobile Computing?

We’ve all heard the hype surrounding the Apple Watch and Google Glass; but does this hype have any merit? Are we on the verge of a technological revolution, or are we just witnessing a fad that will ultimately be forgotten like so many others before them?

Google glass is at the forefront of the 'wearable revolution'
Google glass is at the forefront of the ‘wearable revolution’

Lets take a step back and have look at the history of devices that we not only use, but also wear on our person. Arguably the first wearable computer was the very first digital watch, which in turn evolved into the very snazzy and of course desirable calculator wristwatch ! However these were little more than a novelty really. However, new applications of wearable technology came to light during the 1980’s, when the first digital hearing aids were brought to market and were an instant success, replacing unwieldy and downright ugly mechanical hearing aids. Then the arrival of bluetooth in the late 1990’s changed everything, and led to an explosion of wearable devices that we see every day; such as the bluetooth headset, allowing commuters all over the world to talk on the phone ‘legally’ while driving. Now that we are well into the digital age we are seeing downright wonderful things coming out of the wearable tech industry, such as the oculus rift, which is set to revolutionise gaming, and as previously mentioned; google glass. But does the journey end here or will we continue to see progress to new realms of possibility that we could never have imagined?

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(This statistic provides a forecast for the market value of the wearable device market from 2010 to 2018.)

“By 2018, it is estimated that this market will be worth some 12.6 billion U.S. dollars” (Statista, 2015).  Thats almost double what the market is worth today (roughly 7.1 billion dollars). This estimated increase shows us how big the wearable market could grow to be.

So what is so appealing about wearable computers? Why is there such a high predicted market value? For some, it is mainly down to the stylishness and the functionality of wearable computers that creates a want for the product. They are advertised by their companies to seem as if these are the best products on the market, and they will improve your day-to-day living just by owning one, such as Google Glass and the iWatch. Essentially, you are told to believe that you need to get involved . The wearable market is even gaining huge traction in the workplace, allowing people to work with information more efficiently.

However, there are countless examples of how wearable computers could actually change the way we live. In the military, for example, they now sport a portable computing device that is pocket sized and a display panel can be strapped on the soldier’s wrist. This Aviation Warrior System also includes a flip down part of the helmet which can tap into the cockpit’s display panel (Cnet, 2012). Another example of how wearable computers can help us in our day-to-day lives is in sport – they attach monitors to the players and so can keep track of which players need rest or are close to muscle injury. These devices have become as staple of the modern game of rugby.(Independent, 2013)

There are also plans in operation to make wearable technology suitable and beneficial to the market of senior citizens, by devising apps that will be tailored to meet their needs, as many of them live alone or with only their spouse. “Japan Post aims to roll out these services to some 4 million to 5 million seniors by 2020, equipping them with mobile quality-of-life apps tailored to their needs” (Forbes, 2015). 

Companies have been clever in the way they choose to sell their products; to the elderly, sportsmen, military, to name but a few. All the advancements in these fields are innovating and groundbreaking, but what wearable technology needs in order to be successful is to be accepted by the general public. Do you think the wearable technology revolution will gather steam and continue forward; or will it crash and burn?








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