After the iPhone: Next Era Gadgets are on the Way
Posted on Mar 20, 2013 in Gadgets, Technology
MIThril vest circa 2003 (source MIT) and Google Glasses 2013 (Source Google)
Smartphones and tablets are the center of technology universe in 2013; but, phones stuck on faces and tablets stuck in hands,will yield ground to successor devices in coming years.
Hands-free and wearable devices like Google Glasses, Pebble Watch, Epson Moverio are trickling in. They will enter the mainstream in 2015.
The idea for wearable computers with a heads up display is not new. For instance, a number of researchers at MIT have been working various wearable technologies and devices for more than fifteen years.
MIThril (a geeky reference to mithril, MIT and lightweight, all rolled into one) vest was put together in 2003 with display and camera mounted onto the eyeglasses with “contextual” software was assembled from mostly off-the-shelf components. It came from, where else?— BorgLabs at MIT!
Richard W. DeVaul, researcher who developed the MIThril vest and the Memory Glasses was hired away from Apple by Google in 2012 to join the Google Glasses project.
What direction will the new gadgets take us? Just as smartphones and tablets brought us ubiquitous advertising, and companies fencing us inside walled ecosystems, new devices will bring us more issues to contend with.
Let us also look at some devices already on the market or coming soon.Pebble Watch
Pebble watch syncs with iOS and Android devices with Bluetooth.
It notifies users of texts, emails, tweets, calendar alerts and Facebook status.
Pebble has apps for weather, caller ID, golf swings, jogging, cycling and music.
Started as Kickstarter project, Pebble retails for $150.Epson Moverio
Epson Moverio is an Android-based device which promises that its see-through glasses and earphones will deliver videos and games on a perceived 80-inch screen. In 3D, no less.
It comes with a 4GB of micro SD storage for content, but can be upped to 32GB. It has built-in Wi-fi to run Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube and other apps. It provides Dolby sound.
You could also (theoretically) play Android games.
And, it sells for $500 on Amazon. Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, there are issues: Android version is ancient (2.2), the control pad cumbersome, the display heavy and uncomfortable. 3D, as may be expected, cuts down the resolution by half.
If there is a version 2.0 with a lighter and more comfortable display, a better control unit, and a software upgrade, Moverio could be a star. Now, it’s more a tech demo with a tremendous potential.Bodymedia Band
Bodymedia Band also works with iOS and Android devices using Bluetooth connectivity.
The band continuously monitors physiological data for fitness and weight management. Worn around the arm, it tracks sleep, calorie consumption and exercise.
In addition to a $100-120 cost, it needs a $7 a month subscription for the online service.Innovega iOptik
Working with DARPA (US Army’s advanced research arm), Innovega has been developing augmented reality glasses for several years now.
In 2015, the company plans to release its consumer product iOptik. If it sounds like Google Glasses, it’s because both these products target the same functionalities.
Here is Innovega’s vision for iOptik.Motorola HC1 Computer
Industry has used wearable computers for a while now: instant access and hands-free operation are sometimes critical in design and operations. Motorola HC1 is a good example.
Designed to be worn comfortably for extended periods (at the risk of looking like a borg), HC allows voice commands and control through head movement. It allows collaborative work, immediate access to and display of blueprints and documents. Modules with different functions can be easily added or removed.
What operating system does it run on? Now, outdated Windows CE!Google Glasses
If there’s one device that will create more interest than a Galaxy phone, an iPhone, the next Xbox or PlayStation 4, it may be Google Glasses.
It’s a phone, camera and computer all rolled into one neat package— it’s like wearing glasses without the lenses. Voice commands will allow for everything from web browsing to augmented reality, from social media to a phone call, from driving directions to shooting and sharing video.
These are the least that Google promises. Can it do other things, possibly and likely, either right out of the box or over time.
For now, those chosen by Google and willing to pay $1,500 for the privilege can be beta testers.
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