Wear to from here
Fumbling for your phone in your pocket or bag will soon be a thing of the past, writes Jennifer Dudley-nicholson
ONE in every four Australians is willing to wear technology, slipping on a pair of internetsavvy spectacles or a web-wise wristwatch.
This willingness to embrace wearable technology is revealed in Telsyte’s Digital Consumer Study, yet more fuel for the trend’s ambitious forecasts, including Juniper’s estimate that it will generate $800 million this year alone, spiking to more than $1.5 billion in 2014.
And consumers will soon be spoiled for choice.
Samsung has confirmed it is developing a smartwatch, while rival Apple is widely tipped to deliver its own.
LG is believed to be working on internet-connected glasses as well as a smartwatch, while Google is now releasing the first of its own head-up display spectacles, Google Glass, to a carefully chosen pack.
Other net-savvy smartwatches, including the Pebble, MetaWatch and I’m Watch, are already attracting paying audiences, while wearable health gadgets such as Jawbone Up and the Fitbit One are boosting wearable tech numbers.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says this fashionable technology is showing the hallmarks of a major technology craze.
‘‘ About a quarter of Australians we surveyed for the Digital Consumer Study said they would be comfortable using a wearable computer,’’ he says. ‘‘ We showed them a picture of (Google co-founder) Sergey Brin using a blue pair of Google glasses. Even if they hadn’t heard of them, they indicated it was something they were amiable about.’’
There is so much interest in these accessories at the moment
Australia’s love affair with the smartphone was behind the trend, as the country’s more than 12 million smartphone users had been ‘‘ conditioned’’ to have the device with them at all times.
University of Adelaide School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering lecturer Dr Thomas Kaufmann says there is already evidence of the trend.
‘‘ I’ve already seen people wearing Pebble watches in Australia and
there is so much interest in these accessories at the moment,’’ Dr Kaufmann says. ‘‘ We might not see them on an everyday basis this year, but within the next five years these wearable devices will have a much bigger penetration than we could imagine today.’’
Without revealing a date, Samsung mobile executive vicepresident Lee Younghee says the company has ‘‘ been preparing the watch product for so long’’ and the issue is simply about which company will ‘‘ first commercialise it so consumers can use it meaningfully’’.
Samsung is also planning to launch health accessories to accompany its Galaxy S4 phone this month.
Apple has been widely tipped to deliver an ‘‘ iWatch’’. Rumours intensified after it changed the shape of the iPod Nano so it could no longer be worn on the wrist and, more recently, when the company’s patent on flexible display technology became public.
Google is perhaps becoming the ‘‘ face’’ of wearable technology, thanks to its Google Glass internet-connected spectacles.
Early versions will soon appear on the faces of celebrities including Neil Patrick Harris, Soulja Boy and Newt Gingrich, as well as thousands of handpicked testers.
The Android 4.0-powered glasses will offer a small display on the right-hand side, as well as bone-conduction audio technology.
Fadaghi says despite huge enthusiasm, many devices have yet to be proven.
‘‘ There is a lot of hype around these products but their practicality has to be
proven first,’’ he says. Google goggles: Wearable technology provides function with the fashion.