Samsung, Motorola, LG and HTC have all signed up to the Android wear platform, with its new catchphrase command, “OK, Google”.
Crowd funding platforms are already buzzing, with investment pouring in to fund the launch of new apps to make the technology more dynamic and user friendly. A developer preview has been made available so companies can capitalise on the growing trend for wearable technology.
Smartwatches are leading the charge, with Motorola announcing the Moto 360, due for release in the summer, and LG planning a release for the G Watch the following quarter.
Voice activation is the key, and many services normally associated with smartphones will be available, such as calling a taxi, making a restaurant reservation and streaming your favourite movies, all using simple voice commands. Swiping and tapping navigation is also supported, although screens are expected to be no more than 2 inches in size.
Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai believes that when it comes to mobile technology “we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible”, however previous attempts to market the Smartwatch, most notably the Samsung Galaxy Gear, have foundered due to a lack of genuinely original features. Put simply: we already have the phone, so do we really need the watch too? There is a distinct fear that only tech devotees would pay up for an unnecessary, if clever, piece of kit.
Another issue is fragmentation, the scourge of the smartphone market. With so many different operating systems, consumers may find that they are having to deal with the headache of a different system for each device they own. Iphone and Smartwatch could become the new collars and cuffs. At such an early stage in its development, the major players in the wearable tech industry could put their heads together on this one, and try to universalise the platform for the consumers benefit, but the warning signs are already here.
Apple plans to launch the iWatch imminently, and has hired Paul Deneve, ex-Chief Executive at Yves Saint Laurent, as its creative and design guru. And you can be very sure Apple will not be using Google’s Android platform.
Google expects the wearable technology market to reach £11.4bn in size by 2018, whilst some analysts predict that by leveraging developments in Health and Medicare sectors, the industry could be worth over $70 billion USD by 2024.
The biggest long term earner may be infotainment, however; GoogleGlass is already with us, but the gaming sector has promised us vibrating suits and 3D Headwear to enhance user experience.
Hold on to your hats. Or should that be glasses?