Inspired by CES2014 – Wearables

Jack Blog

January 10th, 2014 By Jack Morton

Laura Barton, rock critic, said yesterday morning on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that she has a real thing about people watching rock concerts through their phones.  Recording as much of it as their phones will allow.  At the Olympics this year, I was privileged to be able to spend every day at Greenwich, where the equestrian events were held.  I was stunned by just how many people took photos, and even video of the experience, with their iPads.

No matter how professional or otherwise the results, no matter how unlikely we are to ever really look at all of them again, we can’t help trying to capture the things that have captured our attention.  Our technology has made it possible for us to self indulge in this to our hearts’ content, unfortunately, it’s still too intrusive into the experience itself for us not to make ourselves intensely irritating to everyone else in the process.  It’s the uncertainty principle of experience – in the act of recording it, we destroy it.

Thankfully, unlike in quantum mechanics, there is hope.  In Iain M Banks’ science fiction, he portrays a future where everyone is augmented, technology runs through our bodies, never needs charging, records everything, completely invisibly.  We’re a far cry from that, but CES2014 is demonstrating a few leaps and bounds towards it.

Intel have developed a new tiny processor chip – Edison, purely for the purposes of embedding in wearable devices.  In the Mimo baby onesie, it’s designed to monitor a baby’s breathing, temperature and motion.  Certain triggers can then wake mothers, start warming a baby’s Edison powered mug etc.

There are now a plethora of smart watches out there – Sony’s Smartwatch, Samsung’s Gear, the Pebble Steel, Burg (which includes a sim card) etc.

Google Glass was obviously in abundance at CES14, @IntlCES even joked about trying to count them.  But there were also lots more similar devices being shown off, including a lot of AR devices such as Vuzix and Lumus:

Finally, Intel has announced $1.3m in prizes for their “Design the Next Big Wearable Tech Contest”.  That’s a decent level of investment in a competition – clear indicator that Intel think they know where the future lies.

Its still not a neural lace, and people with batteries in their glasses still look like some kind of shortsighted cyborg; but it’s getting there.