Tech Timeout: Wearable Computers April 1st, 2013
Every day it seems technology is coming closer and closer to resembling the capabilities found on the Starship Enterprise. A long time ago, when you needed information, you had to find a desktop computer, boot it up, and log on to the World Wide Web. Then thankfully, someone put the Internet on our phones. But after a while, pulling our phones out of our pockets or purses just became too much of a hassle. And then, someone got a brilliant idea- “what if I could wear my computer around my arm or head all the time?” The wearable computer industry was born.
Wearable computers have been around since the 1600s, when China’s Qing Dynasty developed a fully functioning abacus on a ring. Centuries later, in the 1980s, Steve Mann (a pioneer in the wearable computer field) created a backpack-mounted wireless computer with text, graphics, video and multimedia capability. As you can imagine, he looked kind of ridiculous. Body-borne computers didn’t become practical until the advent of touch-screen and tablet technology in the 21st century. Now it seems to be the next natural step.
The high-tech industry is growing at a rapid pace. Every company is looking to be technology innovators and come up with the next big thing. Recently, some major technology companies have branched into the wearable computer field and developed prototypes of what they hope will be the future of electronics. Here are some of those new devices:
Sony SmartWatch: The Sony SmartWatch is a stylish watch fitted with a 36x 36 mm multi-touch color OLED display. The main unit is about 8mm thick and weighs approximately 15.5 g. The watch features both digital and analogue displays and synchs with your android phone. Much like a smart phone, the watch can access email, Twitter, Facebook, and hold music. It can also connect with Bluetooth core version 3.0. With the watch, users can mute incoming calls or direct them to a headset.
Apple iWatch: Apple is currently working on its own version of the Sony Smartwatch, called the Apple iWatch. This watch will be much thinner than Sony’s and will feature curved glass for a more stylish design. It will offer all the same applications and features as other smart watches, but will link directly with apple products like iPhones, iPads, and apple computers. Apple’s iWatch is expected to have many more features than its 6th generation iPod Nano that fitted to a wristwatch attachment. The iWatch is expected to hit shelves in mid-late 2013.
Google Glass: Google’s new product Google Glass is likely the most anticipated product in the wearable computer industry. Forget the wrist, it’s time to take the computer right to the face. Google Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display, developed by Google X Lab. It’s basically a computer screen displayed on the lens of fashionable, normal-looking glasses. The developer version became available earlier this year, and currently sells for around $1,500. The consumer version is expected to come out by Christmas, 2013. Some of Google Glass’ coolest features include: hands-free first-person photos and videos; Google search results right in front of your eye; voice translations; virtual reminders; and video chatting. They’re even built to accommodate prescription eyewear. Let’s just hope there are no serious health risks or other liability issues associated with the product.
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