My first computer was portable: A tiny Sinclair ZX-81 the size of a small hardcover book. Well, I say portable…the unit was tiny and you’d have to carry the household TV around it used as a display and also its mains cable. So, not portable then. Needless to say portable computing tech has evolved beyond all measure since then, and nowadays the power we carry in each of our smartphones is a billion times beyond what my fabulous 81 could do. And portable devices have this year made a really futuristic leap: You can wear many of them like accessories. Yes, we can expect that 2014 will see many more of them on sale, but it’s safe to say that this year wearables have arrived.
Google’s Glass led the push for wearables this year. Almost no one has one, and even then it’s available only if you live in America. It’s caused controversy, excitement, and is set for a big public launch in 2014.
Perhaps the second best known leader of the wearable tech revolution is the record-setting Kickstarter project Pebble. This year it shipped to buyers but went on to change the way we think about crowdfunded projects: It went on sale in real stores. The smartwatch even received a bunch of updates that added functionality, and it’s been favorably compared to bigger-name efforts like Samsung’s failed Galaxy Gear device because it actually works.
After headline-grabbing products like those there were also a host of wearable fitness and health devices on sale in 2013. Wearables jammed with sensors and wireless connections to companion smartphone devices promised to help track our every step, measure an unborn child’s heart rate or sleep patterns, and generally help us live life a little more healthily. (To say nothing of the firehose of data that comes with each gadget.) Expect this device sector to explode in 2014.
The future of wearables? Well, if the technology is doing everything from checking on infant’s sleep patterns to helping rescue dogs do their bit, it’s a safe bet we’ll see an explosion in the market in 2014. Plus there’s one trend already taking hold: The devices are getting a lot better looking.