Musings on the Wearable Tech Market

A month ago, I got to try Google Glass. At the risk of sounding tragically cliché, it was hands down the coolest experience I’ve had in quite some time, even if it was brief. I told “glass” to take a picture, and it gave me a snapshot of my plane of vision. Unreal. If something like Google Glass doesn’t make you feel like we’re in the year 3000, I don’t know what will.


You can’t just use Glass and not smile. Trust me.

This was a month ago. Now the Samsung Galaxy Gear has been released to the public, and Google is expected to announce its answer to the Galaxy Gear (per 9to5Google) as soon as Halloween. The Galaxy Gear, though I haven’t been able to try it yet, is supposedly underwhelming due to incompatibility with many of Samsung’s other devices, a lack of support for e-mail and social networking, and generally underperforming voice-control software. What Galaxy Gear is, apparently, is a watch that can tell you when you have incoming phone calls, but only if you happen to be sporting a Galaxy Note 3. While Samsung plans to release updates for compatibility  with the Galaxy Note 2 along with the Galaxy S3 and S4, this still leaves you with a strikingly limited device with an unpleasant $299 pricetag. It’s linked to your phone via Bluetooth , which to me just makes it seem just a slight notch up from those Bluetooth headsets that, despite being rather practical, make me instantly dislike you if you happen to use one. (You know the feeling I’m talking about when you see those headsets, right? Is that just me?)


Galaxy Gear on the other hand? …Meh

So there’s where we’re currently at with the wearable technology market. Bluetooth headsets and Samsung’s disappointing Galaxy Gear. You can certainly place a lot of hope for said market upon Google Glass and Google’s watch product (expected to be Nexus-branded), but with what already exists, am I wrong to question whether this will all catch on? CNET seems to think so, projecting the market to grow to $19 billion by 2018. That’s in just over 4 years, mind you.

This begs the question – how are we going to go from assholes with Bluetooth headsets (seriously, why am I unfairly judging people with these headsets? They make perfect sense to use) and an overpriced “smart-watch” to a $19 billion market in such a short time? Personally, I look to my brief experience with Google Glass for the answer: Because it’s all so damn cool. The rush I got when I saw all of the capability of my smartphone (sans the whole “phone” function) built into a pair of glasses was something I can’t explain in a short blog post. All I can say, though, is that I want Google Glass. The price tag is going to be absurd – the Google representative at this technology panel said they were hoping they could release it at or under $1500. Yes, hoping for that. For some reason, though, I feel I’ll still somehow end up with Glass not terribly long after it’s released. Sure, $1500 would be nearly all of the budget I have set aside to buy cool things that make me happy, but who needs those things that I supposedly just “need,” like a place to live and food anyway?

Reason may win out for the time being with Glass, though. A $299 pricetag, or anything near it, though, won’t stop me for more than a few seconds for something like Galaxy Gear or Google’s watch (Apple – follow suit, please). Granted, I have the sense to wait until my watch is anything more than something that tells me when another telemarketer is calling me, but similar to Glass, these smart-watches give the impression of a sci-fi movie. Whether you’re a fan of Star Trek or not, the brief Star Trek clip featuring the characters talking to their watches was brilliant on Samsung’s part. If you think I’m not going to tell my smart watch to “beam me up, Scotty” when I put it on for the first time, you’re out of your mind.

This may all seem childish and hardly based on any sort of sophisticated market research, and that’s because it is. This is just a gut reaction on my part, but the allure of stepping into the year 3000 like I did when I tried Google Glass is compelling. Galaxy Gear will do better than its initial poor reviews would suggest it will because of such allures. CNET’s projection doesn’t seem so outlandish after all when you consider that there are more than enough nerds out there (myself included) that get an adrenaline rush from experiencing the future firsthand to the point that pricetags could very well be as much of a non-issue as they ended up being with the iPhone. And we all know how that one went.


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