Cool Stuff Or Tomorrow’s Garbage: Are Wrist And Eye Gadgets Overblown?

Author James Mash 15.1.2014. | 15:18

A lot of cool stuff is expected to come out in 2014, and wearable tech is one line that is getting a lot of attention. Ever since Google promoted its Glass augmented-reality device, tech companies have been stumbling all over themselves to put out new gadgets that incorporate wearable tech.

The question, however, is whether wearable tech will take off like tablets in the 2010’s or flop like tablets in the late 1990’s.

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Portability VS Functionality

One of the most compelling reasons that wearable tech may succeed in 2014 is the maturation of portable technology. A lot of cool stuff nowadays can fit snugly into your pocket or purse and are light enough to be used comfortably with one hand. These new gizmos are the natural evolutions of the smartphone, phablet and tablet – miniaturizing all the components in order to make them light enough to be worn around the wrist or rest on eye-worn tech.

The early models of wearable tech, however, will need to implement enough functions to justify their purchase. Would the average consumer be willing to shell out 300 USD or more for a simple watch that vibrates tells them who is calling/texting them?

There are devices out there for 150USD or sometimes less that offer varying levels of comparable functionality to 300 dollar models but they aren’t the devices getting media coverage at present so aren’t likely to appear on the public radar screen.

These cool gadgets also need to cram storage, processing, power and display units into extremely tiny spaces. Wearable tech needs to be as light and as compact as possible, but cramming too many features would require larger hardware to execute properly.

Utility VS Visibility

One of the biggest draws of eye-worn tech like smart glasses is the ability to provide information on demand and to augment the vision of the user. This will perhaps be the strongest selling point of smart glasses – the ability to provide navigational assistance, enhancing vision for surgery, helping catalogue items and the like all via Internet access. Specialists will be able to make the most of all this, especially when the smart glasses are loaded with apps that let them do a lot of cool stuff.

Using these smart glasses on the go, however, has a lot of potential for disaster and long-term eye problems. You do not want to be distracted by an incoming email when walking across the street or driving along the highway. Constantly having to deal with a heads-up display could even lead to more serious eye problems later on like binocular rivalry and chronic eye fatigue. These are issues that are being addressed by manufacturers but are nonetheless important to remember for early generations of smart glasses.

Sharing VS Privacy

One of the best features of wearable tech is to capture and share information without even having to fiddle around too much with hand-held gadgets. Cool gizmos like smart watches and smart glasses let you capture audio and video with nothing but a wink or a few hand gestures. Better yet is the potential of apps to use this information and incorporate them into other functions like games and social media.

The issue of privacy, however, means that this cool stuff will be in a legal grey area. The way these devices need to be used and where they need to be restricted need to be better defined in order to conform to privacy laws. Quite a number of people are actually turned off by the ability of wearable tech to empower average citizens to record information without the consent of those involved. This fear alone could prevent these hot gadgets from entering the mainstream – and that’s not even discussing the ramifications of hacked or compromised devices that don’t have anti virus programs to safeguard them.

There are too many conflicting factors to say for certain whether cool stuff like wearable tech will be gobbled up or shunned by consumers. One thing is for sure: 2014 will be the year where wearable tech will be put to the test.

Author James Mash 15.1.2014. | 15:18
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