It’s estimated that one million wearable devices will be shipped at the beginning of 2014, and it’s also estimated that there will be 300 million shipped by 2018.
Of course, these are what I call “soft trends,” meaning they’re not solid numbers; they’re projections. But it does indicate how rapidly wearable devices will impact us.
Perhaps one of the most publicized wearable devices is Google Glass, which is essentially a pair of glasses you wear that has a mini display screen you can see in the corner of your vision. There is a touch pad on the side of the glasses that you can use to access information and a camera to capture activities in front of you. It also has a microphone so you can use voice recognition to have it type messages or to send commands, like you do with Apple’s Siri or Google’s version of Siri, called Google Now.
Will everyone be wearing these glasses soon? Probably not. In fact, many places will likely ban them. For example, teachers wouldn’t allow students to wear the glasses, especially during test taking, because they’d be able to access notes and answers. Likewise, business meetings may not allow the wearing of the glasses because it has a built in camera and microphone, enabling an attendee to record sensitive information.
With that said, though, there are indeed many specialized uses for the glasses. Already, doctors are using Google Glass during surgery so they don’t have to take their eyes off of the operating table to view things like blood pressure, pulse, and temperature readings.
But it doesn’t have to stop there. By combining Google glasses with something called Augmented Reality, which overlays information onto a live camera image, you could help train future surgeons. For example, a medical student could look at a patient’s stomach area and receive detailed information about where each organ is located. It may even overlay a digital incision line to show the student where to operate. So there are many uses for Google Glass when it comes to simulations.
Another use, again combined with augmented reality, could be when shopping. If you’re in a new city’s shopping district and wondering where to find stores or products, you could put on your glasses, say what you’re looking for, and the screen on your Google Glass would show not only the stores in your line of sight, but also overlay the types or names of products in each store.
There are also business applications for the glasses. If you’re working and need to access information, but are not at a work surface, you could put on your glasses and access the information in your visual field. For example, if you’re out fixing telephone lines, you could wear the glasses, see the image of your worksite in the screen, and have the information overlaid of what each wire does and which one you need to work on.
Of course, you can do many of these things with a smart phone currently, but why take the smart phone out when you can just wear a pair of glasses and do it hands-free? The Google Glass makes it much more convenient.
In short, the applications for Google Glass are powerful and almost unlimited. It’s one wearable technology that will revolutionize many areas of life.