In Your Face, Future!

 Wearable Technology – The Way Forward For The Next-Gen Business Traveller

By Varun Rajagopalan

Dick Tracy, James Bond and you can finally find something other than fast cars and faster girls to discuss – Wearable Technology. That’s right. Technology that you can wear on your person has been on the rise in the last few years. While it was still looked upon as a geeky, fan-boy tribute to cult futuristic movies, the launch of the Google Glass has given the concept a huge pop and people are opening up and adopting it as the way of the future. VCs and technology majors also understand the uniqueness that the concept holds and that there is a definitive growth curve. Recently, the Hyderabad-based wearable chip device start-up Ineda Systems received $17 million in funding from global tech giants Samsung and Qualcomm, UK based semiconductor R&D company Imagination Technologies and US based venture fund Walden-Riverwood Ventures.

Google Glass
It’s not a pair of glasses. It’s a computer that you wear. Tethered to your phone, it functions like a Smartphone and operates based on your voice commands such as “take a picture”, “record a video”, “what’s the time in Tokyo now?” or “give me directions to the Taj Mahal”. Of course, there is a touchpad on the side of the frame that allows you to scroll and select. It has a 5 Megapixel front camera and can record 720 pixel HD video. The resolution is equivalent to a 25 inch HD screen from a distance of eight feet. While there are privacy concerns (shooting a video or taking a picture without permission) rife, major brands like Rayban and Oakley are working on frames that would make your pair of Google glasses more stylish.

Smartwatches
Smartwatches were written about and tested widely last year. This year, people are displaying an increasing interest in having a computation, communication and time-telling device all rolled into one, wrapped onto their wrists. Pebble is presently the crowd favourite, Martian is considered a lot more elegant, I’m Watch is funky and modern and Cookoo works more like a facilitator to a Smartphone. Sony’s Smartwatch version 2 is the latest entrant in the scene and people expect it to give stiff competition to the incumbent Samsung Smartwatch. Of course, Motorola and LG too will be launching Smartwatches later this year.

Wearable Fiction
MIT Media Lab is working on the concept of presenting Wearable Fiction. This is a vest that contains a story in its memory. The “book” is programmed to illuminate, vibrate and drop the wearer’s skin temperature based on the content.

Will Wearable Technology Completely Replace Smartphones?
It’s a definite possibility. After all, under a couple of decades ago, the closest one got to moving around while talking was a cordless phone. Now, mobile phones are not used for telephony alone. They are computation devices for work, communication and fun. It is likely that people will adapt to “wearing” technology on their person sooner than later. Presently, wearable technology needs to be tethered to get internet access, but these devices are likely to incorporate 3G sim cards and wifi connectivity soon.

Sidebar:

Wearable Fashion
Fashion Gurus across the world are working closely with large technology corporations to create high tech clothing. These include everything from traceable shoulder-bags, an umbrella that lights up, sweaters that change colour digitally to even imprinting your “selfies” as nailpaint. This may be of scant interest to a business traveller, but thermalwear is presently under development that will be able to completely mask a person’s body heat signature.

Smartlenses
A number of technology companies are also working on the development of contact lenses that won’t work as a computation device just yet. Instead, these could change colour and also give information about your ocular health.

Music for the unborn
Companies are working on the development of belts that will play music at an extremely low volume, into the womb. The thought stemmed from that fact that pregnant women wanted their unborn babies to get used to listening to music even before they are born!

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