In its “official” blog this week, posted, in this case, by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps Google, the company announced “Android Wear: Information that moves with you.” According to the blog, we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible in mobile technology. To that end, is it possible for Google to do for wearables what it did for search?
Android Wear is actually the name of a project that extends the Android platforms to this ultramodern mobile category. Google says it’s starting with watches because they are most the familiar wearable, but their version will go much beyond telling time.
Devices along with a “catalog” of apps will provide information when it is needed most; straight answers to spoken questions; health and fitness monitoring and access and control of other devices in this “multiscreen world,” according to Pichai.
A new developer section is focused only on wearables, but the blog states that many Android apps will already work well. Google noted that it’s working with Asus, HTC, LG, Samsung and Motorola along with the various chip makers and Fossil Group to bring the device to life this year.
Who’s Up First?
Speaking of Motorola (Mobliity), soon to be a former Google company, on the same day as Pichai was blogging, Lior Ron, SVP Product Management, Motorola, was posting his announcement about Moto 360, a “truly modern timepiece, designed by Motorola, powered by Android Wear.”
According to the post, the device is proactive in telling you what you need to know before you even know. Incoming emails and calls, meeting notices, social posts are all visible “with a twist of the wrist.” Moto 360 is responsive to voice for Google search, making appointments, sending texts or taking notes, for example.
It also looks like a high-end piece of fashion, something that will be needed for success in this category.
This “reimagined wristwatch” will be available summer 2014.
Findings from hi-tech analysts, Juniper Research revealed that smart wearable device shipments including smart watches and glasses will approach 130 million by 2018, 10 times higher than estimated that year.
The report, “Smart Wearable Devices: Fitness, Healthcare, Entertainment & Enterprise: 2013-2018,” contends that the market attractiveness of wearable technology has led to the emergence of a host of players and competition is expected to intensify.
Currently, however, wearable devices are a "nice to have" and not a "must have" for consumers. “Even though wearables are relatively new in terms of market maturity, it is clear that the market, for example the smart watch in particular, will be – as per smartphones – a somewhat crowded affair,” said report author Nitin Bhas.
Social & Legal Barriers
The report also noted that there are several social and legal barriers to the deployment of wearable devices. Not all of these hurdles will apply to every device, or indeed, every type of device, but isues such as privacy commonly arise if the wearable device (e.g. smart glasses) has a camera and gives the appearance of filming at all times.
In the case of healthcare wearables, the most relevant issue is the storage of confidential and personal vital health information by these devices, and compliance to regulations.
As more wearable products are rolled out, Juniper expects that governments will develop regulatory frameworks to legislate their use, both from a privacy and data protection perspective.
Should the enterprrise get busy then? Many IT leaders, for now, are seeing these types of devices as a consumer trend (but are testing nonetheless).
Still, it's likely that if smartwatches, for example, follow the trend of smartphones, once Apple (who is uncharateristically behind in this market) comes out with one, it will be a must have in the C-Suite and the consumerization of IT will begin again.