Wearable tech, potentially “the next big thing”

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Technology, like the human race, is always evolving. Computers are becoming more and more an extension of us, rather than a tool used to accomplish certain tasks. As such, we have been wearing technology for years. Whether it be a hearing aid, a wristwatch or something else entirely, the concept of wearable technology isn’t particularly new.

However, the more exotic pieces of wearable technology – like a pair of boots that uses kinetic energy to charge your personal device or a dress that is embedded with hundreds of tiny LEDs which light up in whatever pattern the wearer would like – have always taken the backseat to smartphones and tablets. With the introduction of Google Glass, everything was turned on its head.

Glass, a lightweight pair of frames equipped with a camera and a heads-up display, responds to natural voice commands like “take a picture,” or “how do I get home?” The innovative piece of hardware was announced on Google+, Google’s social network, in early 2011. Augmented reality head pieces are nothing new, but the project has gained a ton of media attention, likely due to its backing and production by the Internet behemoth.
In addition, Google Glass eyewear is sleeker and more comfortable than any of the previous devices who sought to do as Glass has done.

The project is being orchestrated by Google X, the same development team that is putting driverless cars on our streets. The first consumer prototype was shipped out to early “Explorers,” or influential early adopters who were willing to shell out $1,500. Chris Piggott, junior in computer and software engineering, said he got a chance to experiment with a pair over the summer.

“The display is really awkward,” Piggott said. “With technology like this, there is a social stigma that people won’t look as good in them. That it’ll be nerdy. I looked in a mirror while playing with Glass and it just looked like I was fixated on my eyebrows.”

The “smartwatch” fad is attempting to shatter this stigma. Smartwatches, to this point, simply connect to a smart device via Bluetooth and allow you to read emails, change songs or other basic compatible features while maintaining the watch form factor. Samsung made headlines earlier this month when they unveiled the Galaxy Gear alongside their newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 3 and the new Note 10.1 tablet.

“The watch is cool, it’s modern and trendy without trying too hard,” Hayley Keener, senior in marketing, said.Plus it could go well with both casual and dress clothing. I personally wouldn’t wear it, because it looks very masculine, but I think it would look great on men.”

The Galaxy Gear will be available later this month for a a staggering $300 in a variety of colors: Rose Gold, Jet Black, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige and Mocha Gray. Although initially the device will be preloaded with a plethora of apps – Evernote, Path, RunKeeper, etc. – and sport Android 4.3, rumor has it that the Gear will be the first smartwatch to run apps separately from the device it is connected to.

The Galaxy Gear will be first to the market, but with Sony and Apple planning to release their own competitors, it will be interesting to see how things develop on this market front.

According to Digital Trend and the New York Times, Google is planning on releasing Glass to the public sometime in the first quarter of next year with a price of $200-500. Google has refused to comment at this time.

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