Written by Aaron Charlie– Fri 11 Dec 2015
When did remote-controlled helicopters and pedometers become drones and wearable tech?
Since now. Today. The future, and you're living it.
But how far will it take us? Where will we end up?
The best way to predict the future is to look at what has already been achieved, and quite a lot has been going on! I'll go through just a few before looking at the predictions being made by experts.
A piece of well-known wearable tech that made a splash was Google Glass. Simply put, it is worn on the head like ordinary eyeglasses but displays information like a smartphone. It's mostly handsfree and controlled by voice commands, though there is a tiny touchpad built into the side allowing you to swipe through a timeline-like interface right before your eyes. If the wearer simply says ‘ok glass’ they have access to Google Search, Gmail, video chats, voice only chats, virtual reminders, voice translations and a whole load of other features. My personal favourite is its ability to take photos and record 720p HD video of whatever you are seeing.
Now Google Glass 2 has been announced. However, news has emerged very recently that the Google Glass team have been working on a piece of wearable tech that is not a pair of glasses. So you can expect Google Glass next year, but a mystery item too. How long before we have all the features of Google Glass in a tiny contact lense?
Arguably the most common type of wearable tech is smartwatches. You have the Apple Watch, the Samsung Gear S2 and Moto 360. Why carry your phone in your pocket and your watch on your wrist? Now they have been blended together to give you everything you need in one.
Thync are a company whose wearable tech makes use of neurosignalling to shift your state of mind. It's freaky stuff. It allows you to change your mood on demand, making yourself calmer, more focused or energised. Thync hoped we would use it in the similar way to drinking coffee in the morning to perk you up, and drinking chamomile tea to calm you down in the evening.
It’s not just about humans either. DogTelligent Connected Collar is a highly sophisticated smart dog collar with a multitude of useful abilities. To name a few, it’s enabled with Bluetooth, Wi-fi, GPS and Cellular allowing you to track your dogs location, is waterproof, shock proof and ‘ruggedized’, and uses automatic ultrasound and vibration to help with training and humanely discourage excessive barking. Your dog can hear you from anywhere thanks to the built-in micro speakers. LEDs in the collar light up at night and will automatically flash if your poor hound is lost. DogTelligent claims to have the longest rechargeable battery life (7-14 days) of any smart dog collar with that many features on the market.
Curious about how much ultraviolet exposure you’ve had on a summer’s day? There’s a hair slide that can tell you that. Want headphones that can sense when you’ve fallen asleep and subsequently turn the music down? Check out Kokoon EEG headphones.
Going back to Google, the company announced in January that one of their next big projects is smart contact lenses intended to help diabetics manage their condition. These tiny contacts lens uses a wireless chip attached to a glucose sensor that measures the levels of glucose in tears. This project is developed by the hush hush Google X department, who were behind the idea of Google Glass.
Last but not least I will briefly take this a big step further: The Internet of Things (IoT). Not wearable tech, but the future nonetheless. This is a subject that has a lot of complexities so I will cover it in more detail in a later blog post.
IoT is a huge concept that, in its most simplest of definitions, consists of any device that can be turned on or off being connected to the internet. This includes coffee machines, hoovers, lamps, dishwashers, fridges and almost anything else you can think of. The analyst firm Gartner predict that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices all over the world. Some predict differently, saying there will be over 100 billion!
But why does this benefit us? Well, the potential lying within the IoT is huge. Imagine this: your alarm goes off at 6.30am and sends an alert to your coffee machine to starting brewing a coffee for when you get to the kitchen. You have a lunch meeting in your calendar, which your car has access to. Your car then calculates the best route to take, avoiding traffic and other delays all before you even get in the car. What if your fridge knew when you were low on milk and automatically re-ordered more for you? We can understand how achievable all this is when looking at something like Hive Home, the app that lets you control your heating and hot water from wherever you are, as long as you have a smart phone, tablet or laptop. It's brilliant enough to be able to turn the heating on when you're on the train home, imagine if we could put the kettle on and have the latest episode of our favourite TV show getting ready to start when you walk through the door.
Wearable tech is a part of this too. What if a wearable device worn at work could monitor when we are at our most productive and send these patterns and information to other devices we're using?
There is no doubt about it; IoT would change the face of Digital Marketing, but more on that next week.