Once upon a time — not that long ago, really — people used to be bewildered when someone walking the streets was talking out loud without anyone beside them. Remember the very first sign of the mobile revolution – the days when people were using their mobile phones to talk?
Today, you are considered a bit awkward if you sit in a public space and actually contemplate without looking at a mobile device.
Nowadays, it’s more of a rule than exception that if you say something to someone in the street, they won’t hear you – because their ears are plugged up with earphones. Remember the days when courtesy phrases like “excuse me” actually mattered? Now you need to touch a person if you’re in a hurry and have to pass.
Soon, we’ll probably have to get used to people staring at us without looking, and suddenly jerking their heads or starting to laugh without visible reasons.
Welcome to the world of wearable computing.
I guess most of you already have read or seen something about Google Glass or “smart-watches,” and the hype surrounding this new technology. In any case, take a look at this video, where CNN’s Maggie Lake takes Google Glass for a test drive. Watch her tap them, tilt and twist her head to give different commands and communicate.
With “appcessories” like Google Glass, “tics” will become the common denominator of social habits.
But what exactly are “wearables” and “appcessories?” Simply put, they make up the next phase of the post-PC era.
Computing has evolved from desktop to laptop to handheld. The next big change is that we’ll wear the connected devices, either as a smart-watch, a pair of connected glasses, or a wristband (such as the Nike Fuel Band).
As smartphones become giant “phablets” – going from 3.5-inch screens to 5- or even 6-inch – another emerging trend is super-small screens, such as smart-watches or “imaginary” screens.
Take a look at this point-of-view demo of Google Glass and think about it. What it will do for newsmedia companies is further challenge the multi-screen strategy. You think you have it all figured out with your 4-, 7-, or 10-inch formats? Well, I suggest you reconsider.
Every screen will eventually become a connected screen. How does your content work on a 1-inch screen? Or on a screen projected in front of your eyes?
Some newsmedia companies have already started developing services for Google Glass. The New York Times has an app that provides summaries of top news articles and pushes breaking news with audio alerts. Users can have the summaries read aloud by swiping the side of their connected glasses.
CNN’s app delivers video clips literally in front of the eyes of the users. People can choose which types of news alerts they receive through the spectacles and the time of day when they are delivered. They can also read or hear a short summary instead of watching the video clip.
Wearable computers will require producers to combine text, audio, pictures, graphics, and video in new ways — not to mention the importance of trust in whom you have interfering with your vision or buzzing your wrist.
A sure sign that “wearables” and “appcessories” are the next frontier is the fact that giants such as Apple, Google, and Samsung are waging war.
While rumours have it that Apple is betting on the iWatch as the next big thing, CEO Tim Cook dissed Google’s glasses at the AllthingsD-conference in May: “I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people that wear them that don’t have to. I think from a mainstream point of view, this is difficult to see. The wrist is interesting. It’s somewhat natural.”
And when push comes to shove, Samsung seems poised to beat Apple once again, with the launch of a smart-watch known as Galaxy Gear early in September.
Research firm Canalys expects more than 5 million smart-watches to be shipped in 2014, up from an estimated 330,000 in 2012. Let the battle of the body begin.
A curious footnote is that Google has banned two things from showing up on their Glasses – pornography and … ads!
I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out why the pornographic app for Google Glass, released in June by adult app store MiKandi, was quickly stopped. According to a CNN story, “The company wanted to expand from first-person point of view videos to one-on-one interactions between adults who both have Glass.”
But the world’s biggest advertising platform banning ads from its new device!? Is Google afraid an ad-mented reality in front of your eyes will be too much for consumers, as this parody of Google Glass from Rebellious Pixels suggests?