There is Pebble and Google Glass - the two most talked about pieces of wearable tech that I have come across in the past year. The demo for glass simply blows you away as you imagine the possibilities of true hands free communication, collaboration and entertainment. Pebble on the other hand is a neat little gadget that simply puts a smile on your face. With easily downloadable apps for it, Pebble is cute and very ‘in’. And then there is also the next generation wearable tech for your dog. I don’t want to talk about that one. It’s more than a little absurd. But the world is really missing out on what would/could have been the perfect combination of technology aids inspired by none other than… Star trek!
What do you mean Star Trek?
I am of course speaking about Seven of Nine, the borg/human… android/human… okay, i better not try and classify her because Trekkies are going to be up in arms if i get it wrong. For the uninitiated, Seven of Nine was the tertiary adjunct to unimatrix zero one. That’s fancy Star Trek jargon for- ‘she was a robot chic’. During the series Star Trek Voyager, she was converted back to human, but a few parts of her tech remained- making her a prime candidate for inspiration when thinking about wearable tech. And we must admit, she looks rather cool as well.
So, what exactly about Seven of Nine do I want?
1) What’s on her eye? Is it Google Glass – Star Trek Enterprise Edition?
2) The hand. All powerful and cool looking.
3) Maybe even the blue eyes- no, that one doesn’t need fancy technology. Disregard the last.
The bigger picture?
Wearable technology is cool, but we are just starting. Don’t think of it just as a gadgets in isolation, but as an ecosystem. What can Google Glass and Pebble do together? How can my car integrate with Glass? How can my phone, my house security system and gaming console integrate with Glass? Can I have a security camera outside my apartment so I can use glass to view a visitor when I am not at home and let him in? Can I use pebble to send messages to my friends when I am in their vicinity and then use Glass to find them?
Right now, the idea of star trek inspired gadgetry that you wear seems childish. But maybe not so in a few years time. We already have motion controlled gaming devices and 3d devices. Is the Star Trek Holodeck really that far off? The holodeck is a room in Star Trek where you can experience another time, another city and interact with the programmed inhabitants in a hologram.
What would be the impact of the holodeck for education? When children can experience the building of the Eiffel Tower first hand? If people can actually take part in novels and learn about great literature through living them. As absurd as science fiction is… maybe it will all come true one day.
And then there are other uses…
While wearable tech has been seen as a commercial device- its impact in fields like medicine and sports are simply amazing.
Imagine a watch that is able to tell you when you are having a heart attack and sends an email/sms to your doctor?
Imagine clothing that detects when you have pushed your system too far and is able to inform you to not strain your body?
For sure in the next few years we will see consumer devices like the watches and spectacles. Clones for Glass are already in the making. But if the iPhone has taught us anything, it is that the owner of the ecosystem for apps that really steals the prize.
The interface for apps on such devices will likely be voice based. We already know Apple is rumored to be working on a watch like device. And with Siri, they may have gathered a lot of data on speech recognition to ensure quality operations. Likewise Google too has the capability (and some would argue) first mover advantage in having gotten Glass out there (in a small scale) It is worrying to note that other companies are still playing catch-up. We have not heard of anything like this from Microsoft for example. Could the next decade then belong to the same two companies who owned the last? Google and Apple? And if so, the million dollar question… who will bag the Star trek license and give me the Seven of Nine hand?!!
edit: Just read this morning that Microsoft is in fact a player
A Micorsoft Surface Watch. This should be interesting.