Technology is moving off the desk and onto the user, enabling the user to contribute to the bigger technology of the Internet of Things.
All things technological have some basic connection. However, you may not be aware that there is a more direct connection between the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology. What is the connection? It is you and me. We humans are among the things that the Internet will maintain a database regarding, while also being the ones wearing the collection devices. At least in some very intriguing cases, wearable technology is a most exciting development of IoT.
Don’t take that in a negative “Big Brother” way. You should instead consider things like medical monitoring, language translation, time/weather/map information and of course the ability to communicate with devices around the house – like overriding the garage door programmed lock-down so you can still get your car in even though you’re two hours later than anticipated, or expected, as the case may be.
Joseph Bradley, writing for Cisco on the IoT, said, “Wearables are infusing sensors into bands, watches, shoes, shirts, bras, glasses, earrings, necklaces, and helmets. And these technologies are ready to generate reams of data — as well as real-time insights — about the ways in which we live, play, learn, work, exercise, maintain health, you name it.” And doing it with a “sense of style.” Something important to those wearing the wearable.
Most of the wearables, generally speaking, fit into two categories: watches and glasses. The wearable watch category includes devices that monitor your walking/running or heart rate during exercise. Fitness is a key area making use of wearable technology. Health monitoring can also provide proactive alerts. Like the convenient bracelet which monitors exposure to the sun, yet poses as stylish jewelry. Garmin Vivofit, is a sporty 24×7 waterproof watch-like device that monitors daytime activity and nighttime sleeping patterns.
GoogleGlass is the wearable holding consumer attention in the glasses category. A device that connects to your phone to visually display and visually record your daily experiences. Check out the link. It also is very stylish. Here’s what Google says about their Glass: “Glass has a revolutionary new interface that exists directly on your face. There is no more screen, per se. There is no more mouse or keyboard. This is uncharted territory, which will bring magic new superpowers to the wearer of the device.”
16 of the magical Glass activities: 1) Google+ calendar reminders; 2) check the time, and 3) current weather; 4) dictate text messages with built in microphone; 5) check out Google maps; 6) hear audio step-by-step directions; 7) “Remind me” command sets reminders for events; 8) interior mapping – think of finding the Kid’s Reading room at the library; or stadium section C-113, seat 72, or the Food Court at your local Mall; or simply the Restrooms at the Mall or theater or…; 9) Google Check-In for social media; 10) Hangout with a friend and share your screen for an interesting conversation; 11) “wink” functionality for picture taking and more; 12) game playing with your hands (I think you wave them?); 13) Google Maps compass – big help for those of us directionally challenged; 14) live-stream what you see anywhere anytime; 15) call out or answer your phone; 16) an expanding group of add-on apps. Google Glass is a platform that developers are currently working to provide apps for.
I’m sure with a little imagination you could give ideas to those developers. Here’s one: Imagine you are traveling and need directions. But there’s a problem. You’re visiting Berlin and you don’t speak German; or Paris and you don’t speak French; or Moscow and you don’t speak Russian. So what’s a traveler to do?
There is now a wearable device, SIGMO, that will listen and translate and then provide an answer in the appropriate language. Here’s how it works. Need directions? You speak your question in your language and SIGMO translates the question for the local language speaker. Then when the local speaker replies with a list of turns and landmarks, SIGMO is listening and provides the answer given in your pre-selected home language.
For directions or breakfast or a nearby shop or hotel, it’s great! Want to give marital advice or discuss the philosophy of child-raising? Might be a bit rough. But for $50 SIGMO is a great traveling and learning tool which clips to clothing or is small enough to wear around the neck. It functions through a Bluetooth connection to your Android or iOS phone system.
There is also the large category of implanted medical devices that are applied on or in the body, like the small biostamp that adheres to the body to measure – among other things – fetal health for the pregnant woman. Or the information gathering device implanted in your molar(s). Before you arrive at the doctor’s office, the conversation has begun. Doctor no longer needs to ask the question, “How are you feeling?” He knows!
Opinions on the usefulness and direction of this trend of technology are abundant. The one key question is whether the wearables will replace the smart phone. While there is uncertainty as to replacement, there is no question that the wearables will direct the development of the smart phone. Currently, wearables interface through smart phone technology.
One of the concerns of smart phone limitation is the inability to have full vision of business documents on a smart phone. Solution? A holographic display device could take that Excel spreadsheet and project it in front of you for examination. Technology hasn’t quite mastered the hologram, but when it does, holographic display devices would become “just as popular as smart phones.”
Here’s an issue to consider. Just how many wearables can you wear at once? You may have two cell phones and a laptop. Plus your Tablet. Plus your watch. Plus your Google Glass. Plus … you see the point. It can quickly add up. But that’s not the real problem – not enough pockets. No, the real problem is that the various devices don’t play well together. They don’t cooperate. They should work together seamlessly. But they don’t! So the trend will be toward fewer devices to reduce the amount of complexity, not more.
In an article at The Guardian by Stuart Dredge, Ten Things We Learned from Pew Research’s Internet of Things Report, there are some interesting considerations. One is that because of the great complexity of the Internet of Things we ought not to expect that it will work seamlessly. Jerry Michalski, Relationship Economy eXpedition (REX) founder, is quoted as saying, “The Internet of Things (IoT) is too complex. It will break, over and over… Most of the devices exposed on the Internet will be vulnerable. They will also be prone to unintended consequences: they will do things nobody designed for beforehand, most of which will be undesirable.”
The Pew Research also had some very interesting comments from the IoT skeptics – and evidently they are not few in number. Here are some helpful cautions.
- The Internet of Things has been in the red zone of the hypo-meter for over a decade now. Yes, there will be many niche applications, but it will not be the next big thing, as many pundits predict. If the Internet of Things had any true validity, you would think you would start to see evidence of its presence on early adopter Internet networks, said green-internet consultant Bill St. Arnaud.
- No, yuck, we don’t need this, and most people aren’t asking for it. I’ve never been quite clear on where the demand is supposedly coming from, agreed Open Tech Strategies partner Karl Fogel.
- The scarce resource will continue to be human attention. There is a limit to the usefulness of devices that are worn in public but that demand attention because it is often socially and practically unacceptable to give those devices enough attention to make them worth the trouble of configuring and interacting with, Fogel concluded.
Just imagine. If your belt refused to buckle or your shirt to button you might be “understandably upset!” Wearables. Can we live without them? Will they let us?