Wearable technology and the new normal

Cary Bran demonstrates the head-orientation detection of a concept headset

Last week at the 2014 Wearable Tech Expo here in Tokyo, we had a chance to hear a brief talk from Cary Bran, the senior director of innovation and new ventures at Santa Cruz-based Plantronics. The headset manufacturer has been doing some interesting work with smart sensors, and so I though I’d share a few of the insights that Cary presented on the future of wearable tech.

Cary opened by emphasizing the fact that innovation in wearable technologies needs to be much more than the initial technological breakthrough. Citing the automobile as an example, he explained that incremental improvements are needed in order for a product to properly evolve. In the case of wearable technologies, one of the key obstacles we need to overcome is the fact that information is siloed on various devices right now.

Wearable tech is an essential part of the industry but it’s not the only thing. Wearable technology is just the cornerstone. Universal or ubiquitous internet connectivity, this ability is key for wearable tech.

He explained that the next aspect is virtual computing, after data is offloaded to the web, when data analytics can come into play. Users can be at the center of all that information, which is very personalized, with various streams of data working for them. The combination of wearable tech, smart sensors, plus software and context – all these will result in an enhanced experience that we have never seen before.

Cary also briefly demonstrated one of their concept headsets from their PLTlabs team, which has nine-axis sensor capabily using an acceleromer, gyroscope, and a compass. It can capture a wide range of data, including whether its being worn or not, tap detection events, steps taken via a pedometer, and even free-fall detection. The company has been taking these devices to hackathons as well, in an effort to see what developers can build around it. You can learn more about this in the video below.

The new normal, says Cary, will be a very interesting experience. Wearable technologies can be used in wide range of industries (games, entertainment, fitness, health, business, military, etc) to enhance our overall awareness of ourselves and the world around us.