Wearable computing devices have been around for a while now but these products have never really gained mainstream acceptance. However, a potential slew of new devices, which may be announced this January at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, may bring about a paradigm shift in terms of wearable technology.
Companies both big and small have already ventured out into the new frontier of wearable technology. The market has seen devices like the former Sony Ericsson's LiveView and Smartwatch garner little attention. On the other hand, products like Samsung's Galaxy Gear have fared better, but sales figures still fall short of commercial success.
However, wearable computing devices are getting more and more attention as the market in general anticipates the commercial release of products like Google Glass and Apple's rumored iWatch.
Technology pundits are keeping an eye out on emerging smartwatch tech and 2014 may be the year when this type of wearable computing device finally breaks through to the mainstream market. Many experts are expecting both Google and Apple to release smartwatches of their own. There have also been preliminary reports about the development of a Microsoft smartwatch.
Market analysts from Canalys project that around 5 million smartwatches will be sold around the world this coming 2014. However, these estimates were released last July and a more recent projection from analyst Angela McIntyre of Gartner places the number at 7 million smartwatches.
While wearable tech devices are slowly gaining ground, there are still a number of speed bumps and obstacles along the way. For one, smartwatches currently sold in the market are often quite pricey. Investing on wearable technology simply out of curiosity is still well beyond the reach of the average consumer. However, early adopters who have invested in wearable technology devices are paving the way for mainstream acceptance.
Another distinct problem that can be seen in many early smartwatches is the fact that many of these devices need to be tethered to a smart phone via Bluetooth. In addition to being chained to another device, most smartwatches available today suffer from a lack of usable apps and offer limited functionalities.
Due to current limitations in technology, these early wearable computing devices also suffer from excessive bulk. However, this will soon change as new and more compact forms of technology become available. Aside from power and functionality, aesthetics continues to be one of the main factors driving consumer desirability.
However, there are a number of promising new entrants into the field. Canalys analysts are very optimistic about the Kickstarter project Pebble. The Pebble is a $150 product funded through a crowdsourcing campaign that has seen over 85,000 investors. With an attractive price point, fairly suave industrial design, and a small number of well-implemented features, the Pebble may be a force to be reckoned with this coming 2014.
While wearable computing technology is still in its infancy, advances in technology as well as a more open minded market will definitely help spur the growth of this class of devices into maturity.