There has been a lot of work on wearables in low power wireless market, from ANT, Bluetooth ULP and other proprietary technologies. The first major markets seem to be excercise/health and medical devices. Not sure how the tablet/phone makers plan to play in the wearable space.
One possible combo could be replacing phone and tablets with watch where watch act as central hub for all data communication, and use dumb screen which connects wirelessly through watch and attend phone through BT wireless headphone. So assume you are wearning nice looking smart watch with bluetooth headphone in pocket and use it to attend call when needed (lile a tiny phone in pocket) and a chrome book type device on your desk which will use net to connect you to your login session where ever you go...
Well its wild imagination ... but my point is you never know what utility can click. I never expected iPod to be such a hit and especially when iPhone and iPad came which were nothing but bigger screen of iPod with modem.. who expected people will keep consuming them. And moreover tablet is not the new idead of apple, they just made is more usable and desirable.
Back when "wireless" was first mentioned (and rf/microwave was striclty the purview of the military, radio manufacturers, and microwave oven makers), I remember seeing a magazine cover (was it Microwaves&RF?) evoking the Dick Tracey watch. Well... we still don't have them as a common timepiece. Perhaps one of the issues is aesthetic. Let's face it, I don't need a watch to tell time anymore (I can just look at my iPhone). I wear it as jewelry. So it cannot be ugly...Which leads me to ask, why do I need my watch to access the internet? It's not like I'm going to browse on it. I find browsing on my phone irritating enough!
"FitBit etc. are interesting but seem kinda niche."
That's true, but those types of devices are at least addressing a specific market need that exists now, and would appear to have a huge potential as the technology improves. "Smart" watches or "iWatches" or whatever seem to be a gadget in search of a market.
I agree that the idea of small wearable device is an old one and has failed before, also agree that due to its small size, it's not a replacement for Smartphone, but the idea is still an attractive one, we just need the right application and use case for it. Let's consider a smart watch for example:
- It will be hard to combine beauty and practical features at least in the beginning, so the new smart watch won't be a jewelry watch!
- The access to watch as long as few keys are needed; is more convenient than phone, in my opinion, it will serve a mobile phone function very well but not suitable for writing/viewing directly on the watch,
- Maybe a Bluetooth piece in your pocket\bag can be used for viewing\texting. And that can be much smaller\thinner than today's smart phones, and if you lose it you have not lost your phone with all your personal data which is in your watch! They can be simple\cheap touch screens that only interact with the watch so no data is actually saved on them
- Less prone to damages as a result of accident, falling, robbery, leaving behind, because you are wearing it right?
And the opportunities are endless, just needs a new visionary to bring it to the market.
"Watches have been disappointing to me because their functionality is too limited to make them compelling," Muller said. "But we think jewelry could be a platform that's interesting," he said.
I totally agree. The truth is that many people don't wear watches any more. Rather than trying to cram every mobile phone function onto a watch, it's time to rethink what needs to be communicated for what purposes from which wearable devices.
I'm not sure there needs to be a 'why', or that the devices need to be useful. As George Carlin put it, "If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it."
The term watch itself is really old. Wrist computer might be the new term to define this segment.
As someone said, medical applications are the first to come. For example, a wrist computer (smart watch) will now watch your heart rate, ecg, blood pressure, etc.. and inform it to the smartphone. An app on that smartphone can make the information useful. Thus it is obvious that the company that can integrate more number of sensors on the device will be more successful.
Beyond these, there are certain other interesting things you can do with a wrist computer. For example the motion sensors on the device can monitor your hand movements and count the number of times you smoke per day and will warn you when exceeded a certain limit. With motion sensors, you can also take control your home appliances or smart TVs by simply gesturing your hand in the air. No need of kinects and video cameras.
It is easy to say many applications like this. Implementing them is quite different.
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.