Speculation over the iWatch has been running rampant on the Internet for some time now, but early last month it became clear that the device itself is one step closer to becoming a reality. On June 3, 2013, Apple submitted a patent application for the iWatch in Japan, and the application was released on Japan’s website for official patents on June 27, 2013.
Wearable tech is nothing new, of course. Wristwatch calculators date back to the 1980s, and more recently, Garmin has maintained a stranglehold on the athletic market with watches and heart rate monitors that calculate time, position, pace, etc. Recently, however, the possibility that wearable tech might become part and parcel with the mobile ecosphere has taken the industry by storm.
But will we really use them? The problem with trying to read the tea leaves to determine the future of wearable tech is that for now the devices are either not on the market, or are in a beta test phase. Perhaps the best-known of these devices is Google Glass, which (in spite of not being purchasable in stores) is already raising serious privacy concerns in at least six countries. Since Apple’s developing an iWatch, then naturally Samsung decided to develop one of its own, though for now nobody knows what it looks like or how it might operate. Sony already has a watch for sale, but it doesn’t appear to be faring very well in the marketplace.
It’s difficult to know how to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of wearable tech without really knowing how that tech might function. There are already more Google Glass parodies online than there are prototypes in circulation, and it’s hard to say whether or not they’re merely gimmicky or fantastically useful. A Canadian company called Recon Instruments developed smart glasses specifically for athletes, so it’s possible that targeted marketing of these devices might bear fruit in the long run. As for watches, however, if their primary function is to save users the inconvenience of having to take their phones out of their pockets, it’s unlikely that will justify the price tag.
All that said, if wearable tech is able to rise to the hype it’s generating, that means fertile earth for mobile app developers with innovative ideas for how to best exploit the technology.