Wearable Computing: The Future?

March 21, 2013

One topic that has been plaguing much of the tech news cycle is how glasses by Google and potential watches by Apple and electronic shoes by who-knows-who are the next big thing. These devices — the real and the rumored — act as an accessory-type interface for the phones in our pocket, and the idea that it’s the future is nonsense.

The fantastic thing about post-PC devices is their reluctance to accessory-type interfaces like (hardware) keyboards and mice. Post-PC devices are free from the user-facing complexities that traditional computers have. Interface-removal is a trend that needs to continue, not reverse, which is what the people promoting watches and glasses oppose. What follows is my view of what the next wave of computing will be.

We do everything on our phones; The phone is the life, Mr. Renfield. So we don’t need new ways to do the things we already do with our phones; we need our phones to do what they do now with less user-effort. That requires our phones to be smarter and capable of learning what we want them to do. As an example:

At present, when I walk into my favorite Starbucks, my iPhone knows and a Passbook notification for my digital Starbucks card appears on my iPhone’s lock screen. I then swipe the notification and put my phone next to a scanner at the register, and my Earl Grey tea is paid for.

In the future, not only will my iPhone know that I’m walking into my favorite Starbucks, it will also know that I’m going to order a tall Earl Grey tea and it will order the drink for me over WiFi. I won’t have to stand and wait in a line, I’ll just walk into the Starbucks and my drink will be paid for and in the queue with absolutely no effort on my part.

That’s the near-future (10 years give-or-take a few) of computing that I see. I see our phones not only being the hub for everything we do, but also taking over our current responsibilities. It’s a future where our devices are invisible to us and not a distraction. Where most things are done without us even knowing that they’re done; the complete opposite of having computers strapped to our body which makes us see everything always.

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