Smartwatches and other wearables offer big development potential
The Galaxy Gear smartwatch is just a starting point, Samsung developers are told
Computerworld - SAN FRANCISCO -- The future's bright for wearable devices, even if it's a little foggy right now.
That's what a panel of experts told a packed room of developers at the first Samsung Developers Conference here on Tuesday.
Developers were in attendance primarily because they're interested in what apps they might create for Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Gear smartwatch and future wearable devices.
One of the experts on the panel, Han-Shen Yuan, senior director of engineering at eBay, said his company is excited by the potential for wearables, especially those that get email, text and other notifications that can be quickly responded to. EBay has built an app for the new Gear smartwatch that tells auction bidders when they've been out-bid, so they can quickly respond.
Yuan said it's too early to know how important the eBay app on the Gear will be, but he said eBay saw a sudden 30% hike in revenue when it first took its e-commerce and auction capabilities to mobile devices several years ago.
He also noted that notifications on smartphones are coming so frequently that they become confusing to users, so a smartwatch notification can add clarity.
Path, a social network that restricts the number of social contacts to 150 people, believes wearable devices can keep social networking more intimate. Ray Ho, a software engineer at Path who appeared on the panel, said he realized the value of wearables like Google Glass smart glasses when a user held up a baby to take a photo up close, which solicited an immediate response from friends.
Another panelist, CJ Cornell, said greater intimacy of connections from wearable devices might sound threatening to older users, but is exciting to young users like college students. Cornell its working with college students on wearable prototypes at Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, Calif.
"College students are a group open to lack of privacy," he said, noting how many intimate details they're willing to share on Facebook or other social networks.
Cornell said he is 50% deaf, but wears hearing aides that are equipped with Bluetooth technology. That gives him the potential to easily gain personal information -- such as a person's name -- when the person is less than 10 feet away. The ability to share information over Bluetooth, he said, "...is a grand future."
Wearable technology might be used to connect to biometrics and semantics-based software that can help interpret emotions -- something that could be useful in many situations, Cornell said. Police are already exploring the use of head-mounted devices that can scan a crowd to interpret faces for evidence of emotions that could be tied to potential violent acts.
"Don't bet against any of these crazy ideas" for using wearables, Cornell told the Samsung developers. "There are 1 billion young people willing to experiment with wearables who are being enabled by new hardware and software. People will be doing this stuff."
Bluetooth Low Energy, version 4.0, offers the opportunity to place beacons in a shopping mall or other large venue to precisely locate a person -- if wanted -- or be used to offer coupons or special offers, panelists said.
A shopper in the men's section of a store might be able to get a coupon for a special deal when entering the department. The low energy features of Bluetooth 4.0 would allow it to work well with small devices with small batteries, like a smartwatch or smart glasses, the panelists said.
The potential for geo-fencing on small devices is also getting a boost from Samsung's software development efforts involving Mobile Wallet 2.0 tools available to developers, Samsung executives said.
Analysts have said wearable technology is in its infancy, even though several manufacturers, including Apple, are expected to launch smartwatches. Meanwhile, Google has been demonstrating Google Glass for more than a year.
The panelists agreed that wearables are just beginning to arrive, but compared their development potential to the early days of e-commerce, which quickly took off.
"We're still trying to figure out what's going to happen with wearables," Ho told developers. "Keep building [applications], because we'll eventually hit something powerful."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
- Cosmonauts deploy nanosatellites during spacewalk
- Scientists create self-assembling, working robots
- When astronauts breathe on Mars, they'll thank MIT professor
- Big tech firms back Wi-FAR for remote broadband
- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity closes in on ultimate destination
- Qi wireless charging spec gets more flexibility with distance extension
- NASA upgrades humanoid robot in space
- NASA: Finding life on other planets is within our grasp
- Money talks, and that's all quantum maker D-Wave has to say
- 45 years after moon landing, NASA looks to next giant leap
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- API Management: The Key to Improving the Consumer Travel Experience Join PhoCusWright's Senior Technology Analyst, Norm Rose, as he shares his insights on how travel suppliers and intermediaries can improve industry data flow...
- Tips to Simplify Database Administration and Development Make your job easier while getting the most from the leading productivity tool for database professionals. Learn tips from Dell Software's Oracle® ACE,... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!