Do you remember when Apple launched the iPad? It’s only four and a half years ago but, much like in dog years, Apple tends to operate a little faster than the rest of us. We mocked it. We did and it’s easy to forget now but we mocked it. “It sounds like a sanitary product,” one Tweeter commented; “Who is going to use that to take pictures, it’s huge,” said another; “Making iPhones for hobbits since 2010” was my own insight (which I’m still rather proud of but you had to be there).
If you have an iPad or a tablet now can you imagine life without it? Probably not. Laptops are now almost redundant as tablets have replaced them as the lightweight, powerful device to access your data on the move. Yes, we even hold them up in the sky to take pictures.
Technologists operate in that grey space between what we think we want and what we actually want. There is actually a job called a futurologist which is the study of what’s coming next. The point, if there is one, is that when new technology emerges we may find it funny but all too often within a few short years it is part and parcel of our day to day lives.
The Apple iWatch is likely to be an example in point. Why would we want to wear a watch that does what a phone does? Because it isn’t about doing what a phone does. It’s about the gradual shift towards wearable technology that’s part of the internet of things that cloud computing is increasingly making more possible.
Wearable technology is nothing new. Headphones, pacemakers, even those little gadgets you use to find your keys; all examples of wearable technology. However the way it is shifting is to link this technology up with other devices and to do more than one thing. It isn’t enough to track your steps like a pedometer, now we want to be able to understand how many calories we’re burning, how active we are throughout the whole day, how we can eat to benefit this and how are sleeping patterns might affect our activity levels. It is an holistic approach where one watch or device can synch with all of others. For example we might track that we need to burn more calories and plan in a workout then synch that data with a shopping app allowing us to buy food that suits our workout routine.
It’s this intuitive approach that’s at the heart of wearable technology. The cloud enables these devices to be smaller and to store our data in centralised locations meaning that it can be accessed wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
There is much hyperbole whenever Apple releases a new device because often media commenters forget that actually similar devices have been made by other people; it only becomes truly recognisable when Apple does it. The growth in wearable technology is a trend that has been happening for a while and will continue to do so as we empower ourselves by storing our data in the cloud and being able to access it via numerous devices. The effect it will have on our health and wellbeing will be immense.