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

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

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.’’

Fadaghi says

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.

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