Wearable devices promise to make computing more personal than ever before. The market is led by a surge in health and fitness innovations that can track your lifestyle, like the Jawbone UP, and by healthcare devices that can measure your glucose level and other vital signs.
Few wearables have gotten more attention than Google Glass, which is playing a cat-and-mouse game with the public, like when Sergey Brin was spotted on a NY subway wearing a pair. We can expect virtual reality glasses to change the face of the workplace in the coming years.
It starts to get really interesting when your wearable, rather than feeding an app (the common architecture), takes data from an app and allows you to leave your phone in your pocket. The Pebble watch is able to alert you to calls, texts and emails from the Android client and multiple Gmail accounts, calendar updates, Google Talk, Google Voice and Facebook. It acts as a filter to give you eyes on what you care about most while you’re on the go.
How hot is this market? Just today Jawbone acquired MassiveHealth, a maker of apps to promote healthy eating. MassiveHealth makes The Eatery, an app that allows you to snap a photo of your food, rate how healthy it is, and wait for others to rate the healthiness of your meal. Crowdsourced commentary on your diet that influences the user in healthy directions.
More use cases
The wearables market will truly expand when it moves beyond the niches of sports and fitness and health monitoring. Those are strong marketplaces but not nearly enough to fuel a revolution. The market truly expands when it moves to personal entertainment and things that make life easier and current activities more convenient. This is what makes a concept break through and enter the web-scale marketplace.
And the ultimate wearable device? Your phone. With the report today that Facebook is developing a location-tracking app to help you find your friends, it becomes even more clear that the best device of all is in your pocket or hand most of the day. The one thing we never leave our homes without, our smartphone, is the ultimate wearable device, even if it sits in our pockets. Expect to see attachments and wireless sensors that feed data first to our phones and then to the cloud. It will change everything.