Wearable computers will likely be the next major wave in not only consumer electronics but also full-fledged computing solutions.
Many in the industry argue that consumers are willing to accept tether solutions, but I disagree. Consumers want things that just work. Try explaining to a 10 year-old that he can't connect to the internet when he leaves the house because he lost his Wi-Fi connection. It is not acceptable. This connectivity will be even more important going forward because despite the advancements in the silicon technology, more and more of the storage and processing will be done in the cloud going forward. In fact, the future is really a distributed computing model (the topic for next week's article).
The only question left to ask is: will consumers accept wearable computers? Those of us from the PC generation are often quick to dismiss the concept, but younger generations are very quick to adapt to and take advance of new technology. Can you image not having to carry around your smartphone anymore? No more leaving it at the restaurant, breaking the case or display by dropping it in the parking lot, or dropping it in the toilet, which I know most of us have done at least once.
The other issue is privacy. While privacy issues are already being raised with Google Glass, like with every other form of electronics, these issues will not matter to the younger generations and will slowly fade away.
Today we are still stuck with either really expensive toys like Google Glass or the holiday gift items like Fitbit that are bound for closet or drawer once the newness factor wears off in a month or two, just like the pedometer and digital photo frames.
But, wearable computers are coming and will likely be the next major wave in not only consumer electronics but also full-fledged computing solutions; we just have to wait a few more years. And what form factor they take is anyone's guess. They could be a large wrist watch, an ear piece/headset, glasses, or even integrated into your clothes in some manner.
One area to look for inspiration is medical devices. While these solutions may be more specialized and expensive, they offer a glimpse of where the technology is likely headed because of the critical nature of their functionality. But, beware of outrageous forecasts, it always takes longer for the technology and ecosystem to evolve than analysts and the industry expect.
Jim McGregor is founder and principal analyst at Tirias Research.