Brain Computer

Move Over Apple Watch, We Want Wetware!

Brain ComputerI am a sci-fi junkie, and began mainlining speculative fiction in my early teens. Many of the technologies once imagined have since turned into everyday realities (i.e. artificial brains, robots and space ships) but Apple’s newest reinvention, the i-less Apple Watch, could be the start of something really unique. If it can do for wearable technology (i.e. health and sports monitors, jewellery and smart clothes) what it did for portable music players (iPod), smartphones (iPhone) and tablets (iPad), then hold onto your lugnuts, it’s tiiiiime for an overhaul!!!!!! We might not just be wearing technology, we may BE the technology!

Apple didn’t invent portable music players, smartphones or tablets (or the PC), but it did make them much more popular than their original inventors. Now it wants to do the same with wearable technology, although its device will initially be tethered to an iPhone.

Due out sometime in 2015, Apple’s first wearable will be available in three collections: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, and Apple Watch Edition. “Apple introduced the world to several category-defining products, the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “And once again Apple is poised to captivate the world with a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.”

Initial forecasts for wearable shipments are strong, but not that strong. Global smart wearable device shipments are expected to more than quadruple by 2017, reaching 116 million units, compared to an estimated 27 million this year. Over 100 million units in just over two years sound impressive, but that will be less than 5% of smartphones that will be used with such wearables by that time.

More advanced wearable technologies will be developed first for enterprise and healthcare applications, as these segments have clear use cases that technology can solve, predicts Juniper Research. Smart wearable device revenues will reach over $53 billion in 2019.

One of the mobility drivers that may play a role in expanding the wearable universe is contextual awareness in apps, which is also exploding. The number of smartphone and tablet apps that leverage contextual or location data on devices, is forecast to exceed 7 billion by 2019, up from 2.8 billion in 2014.

There are aggressive forecasts for wearable technology, but as noted, they will be just a small fraction of smartphone adoption. Approximately 1.2 billion smartphones will be shipped this year, with 1.8 billion smartphones predicted to ship by 2018.

Still, it’s a beginning, and these forecasts — especially when it comes to anything involving communications — tend to fall far short of reality. So while cyborgs and androids — i.e. Borg, The Terminator and Blade Runner — appear to be the stuff of dreams, sci-fi authors and TV/movie-makers, wearables are here to stay. Can wetware, smart technology implanted into our bodies, be far behind?

Image credit: WikiMedia Commons / CC-BY-SA