Pundits have been predicting the rise of wearable smart products for a few years now. We’ve seen some health devices from Nike, Fitbit and others, and we’ve seen some curious experiments with augmented reality from Google’s Glass headset. The common consensus among industry watchers is that Apple is preparing some revolutionary device that will bring the category into the mainstream–though exactly how is up for debate.
Google, it turns out, decided not to wait and jumped in with both feet this week, announcing the “Android Wear” development platform. The concept is to turn a watch into a version of the excellent “Google Now” contextual app. If you’re unfamiliar with the app, I suggest you check it out–it is pretty great at predicting what information you want based on your calendar, location, gmail messages and recent searches. For example, I had a lunch on my calendar earlier this week–I received a notification based on traffic conditions about when I should leave, despite never once entering the information into the app. When I did open it up, I saw directions as well as the tracking information of an Amazon order I’d placed. Pretty cool.
Anyway, Google’s pitch is that wearables should be extremely passive. There isn’t a ton of swiping or app opening on the device (though you can use Google’s voice assistant to search or interact). It certainly looks like it has potential, though as always, my question is who exactly has been clamoring for this device and what problem does it solve?
Motorola has been working with Google and has released some teases of the upcoming flagship device, the Moto 360, available this summer. It’s pretty cool looking.