What in the end will wearable devices move to?

There are a number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns that I have helped. There was one that I found and have been waiting for a long time to get. It is a projector that supports touch and pen based interfaces. It for all intents and purposes allows you to turn the wall of your office (or cube or hotel room and so on) into an interactive touch screen.

I know geeky. But in the end very useful. There are some great conversations had on my whiteboard and being able to capture those and share them in the end makes the whiteboard even more effective. That got me thinking back to my screen as a service conversation and then it hit me.

It isn’t just about the screen as a service. That is a part of what is happening but instead it’s about a shift. A move towards portability. I’ve sat in the massive video conferencing rooms that have a wall of screens that connect two rooms together. They are amazing. They are also static. You don’t move them. Having a device that goes with you and allows you to have a similar experience – priceless.

The shift to portable and wearable computing.

· Dick Tracey – had a wrist watch radio that he used to communicate with the rest of the police force.

· Captain James T. Kirk – had the communicator that connected him with the Enterprise.

· Maxwell Smart – oh the beloved shoe phone.

Those devices were small. One portable and one wearable. Later they modified the communicator to be wearable as well. The point being that the vision of portability and wearability is yet to be completely fulfilled.

What cannot be worn or carried in your pocket? A printer? Well for sure a plotter can’t be. A color laser can’t be (imagine the burns that would cause). But there is a project on IG that would in the end allow you to basically carry a printer with you. Simply connect it to your computer, upload the file you want to print and let the printer loose on the paper. Effectively letting you create plotter sized printouts with a printer you carry in your pocket.

As I’ve said before the three categories (Stayable, Portable and Wearable or SPW) within the concept of IoT are easily identified. You could for those of us who grew up in the computing world of the 1990’s add luggable but how many people want to throw out their shoulder carrying a device around? I know I did but I don’t any longer.

Three things that will emerge that make the SPW shift even further to PW. I am listing concepts that aren’t quite real but in the end are pretty close.

1. Solar Energy Thread, thread that can be used to make clothes and backpacks/bags that can in the end conduct solar energy to a battery. Why? This increases the total available power you have for the devices you are carrying ergo greater time away from a power cord. Fashion conscious? Then have a solar thread bag!

2. Higher conversion solar power collectors (moving closer to 90% capture rates for solar power)

3. One charging format for all devices.

Personally these three starting with number 3 first and moving up the chain will be game changers. One charging format for all devices will become more and more critical (be it that everyone adopts lighting or everyone adopts a flavor of USB – I don’t care just pick one for everything). The first one will allow all of us to throw away the 100 or so cables we have to carry to connect various devices to various other devices. Ending up with only a single charging and syncing cable for portable devices also reduces the number of times we have to drop everything and look for the sync cable for a device.

The move is on. What once was only Stayable is moving towards portable. What once was only portable is moving to wearable. What will wearable move to?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.