In technology we are often looking for the “next big thing” and I am ready to make a prediction on what that is. I think it’s wearable computing. This is not a brand new concept and variations of it have been around for awhile. You could argue all the various health monitors that have recently come out are wearable computing. I think in 2013 and into 2014 wearable computing that is affordable and practical will break through and start to be used by regular people.
Two major reasons driving this are Google and Apple. Google has been experimenting with it’s Google Glass project for the past several years and will ship the initial product to developers this year. Shipment to customers could follow a year after that. The Google project centers around a pair of eye glasses that project images into it’s lense and appears to be controlled by head and/or eye movements. The big drawback to Project Glass, of course, is the glasses make you look like a robot. Geeks might not mind but they are not fashionable enough to more common customers.
Apple, on the other hand, has a great history of taking new concepts and making them completely palatable to real customers. Because of their outstanding design and style, Apple is able to take things like a phone with no physical keyboard and a tablet computer and make them commonplace. Apple is the only technology company I know of that can drive style in popular culture. This is why I think Apple has the best chance of taking wearable computing mainstream. It look like they will use the iPod as the first product to be wearable. For a few years people have been taking the previous generation iPod nano and putting it inside a custom watch band. With the latest generation iPod nano, Apple has taken the design in a completely new direction, one that is not compatible with wearing the device. Speculation is Apple will make the next generation of iPod Nano truly wearable and wants to clear the field before it does. The iPod has been a bit lackluster in sales and innovation lately in site of the more glamorous iPhone and this could re-energize the iPod all over again. Of course, it the wearable iPod is successful it won’t be too long until the iPhone follows and who knows what other wearable devices will be created we haven’t even imagined yet.