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back to article iPhones, tablets... Pah: By 2020, we'll froth over hot new SOFTWEAR

Within some admittedly fuzzy error bars, computing adoption seems to work in decade-long phases over the course of about 50 years. By my reckoning, those decades roughly work out to precursor technologies, niche adoption, commercialisation, mass market and eventual displacement. Within my lifetime, I have seen the rise of the PC …

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Anonymous Coward

"Ultimately, I hope the winner in this space will be one that has robust security and privacy."

So not Google then ;)

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FAIL

Where's 7 of 9 or Kiera (Continuum)?

I'm saddened. It's Friday lunchtime and there was the perfect opportunity for a speculative future article which could include gratuitous photos of 7 of 9 or Kiera Cameron from Continuum and el Reg let me down.

C'mon Reg, if you carry on in this manner people might start thinking you're getting all serious and mature on us.

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I'm a Softwear Engineer...

...or so it says on my marriage certificate. Perhaps that was a prediction, rather than poor spelling on the registrar's part.

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FAIL

How many shirts do you own?

... and do you want to own that many wearable computers?

If this wearable technology really is built in to the sort of soft fabrics that people feel comfortable wearing for a day before washing them, then you will need a lot of wearable computers (or a daily cycle for washing your shirts).

And what about the fashion sense? People wear different types of clothes for different occasions. Are you going to have a few work/casual computers for the normal week, a few formal computers for meeting customers, some comfortable old t-shirt computers for the weekend and something hard-wearing for when you are out-and-about?

Sounds like a nightmare, and stupidly expensive.

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Re: How many shirts do you own?

Depends on how big the wearable computer is.

Doesn't have to be a shirt. It could be an armband, scarf, hat or an earring.

Given technology and fashion trends I could easily see a pair of wrap around dark glasses being your 'wearable computer', since it gives you private sound and sight.

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Re: How many shirts do you own?

You are only making my point for me.

I'm not going to wear an armband over a suit or wear a scarf or hat indoors. I don't look good in earrings and I dead the thought of all those people who now look at their handhelds all the time wearing dark glasses instead.

My computing requirements are completely independent of clothing requirements.

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Re: How many shirts do you own?

It could be your watch. I wear the same watch whatever clothes I'm wearing.

It's limited because its display is small and it can't talk wirelessly other displays, and because it can't afford much battery power. Those things will change with NFC and wireless charging, and Moores Law.

I'd probably accept a somewhat thicker and heavier wrist band if it had more functionality. If, for example, it replaced my house and car keys with a secure wireless lock, and if it could be used to pay for stuff without me needing to get my wallet or phone out.

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Silver badge

Re: How many shirts do you own?

A smaller screened, less functional smartphone strapped to my wrist so that I can only interact with it using one hand? Maybe I'm odd but I really don't see the appeal...

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Re: How many shirts do you own?

>I'm not going to wear an armband over a suit or wear a scarf or hat indoors. I don't look good in earrings and I dead the thought of all those people who now look at their handhelds all the time wearing dark glasses instead.

This is a dumb point. A few years ago, who wanted to carry something the size of a Samsung S3 in their pocket? It wrecks the line of your suit. Who wanted to wear a headset? You look like a call center operative. Who wanted to be able to text all the time? Who wanted to be able to access the internet on their phone? Who wanted to be able to read their email at home?

Innovation and creativity and technology and style and fashion will drive each other, and clever people will find and market solutions to problems you either don't have, don't have yet or don't realise you have. I for one look forward to it. Read the Culture books; your personal device can be literally anything you want.

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Happy

Have you not heard...

...wearable smart watches are dead already according to some analysts. Better look up the articles that the site you've written for have published recently. Just saying.

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Thumb Down

Resistance is futile

you WILL give up all your privacy. if you have something to hide you'll be arrested on suspected terrorism charges

Privacy will be increasingly harder to obtain as the years and technology progresses. Governments WILL get more paranoid and tech companies WILL find out everything

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Bronze badge

Re: Resistance is futile

And refuseniks will suffer the fate of...John Savage or Winston Smith? I don't know which way it will go but I'm expecting the current cat and mouse game played out by tech/ad companies and hackers/modders to get ever more intense. Sadly tinfoil hats are likely to become ever more fashionable items of wearable tech. This is a bit of a disorganised stream of consciousness post so it's probably not too clear but basically I'm agreeing with you nevstah.

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Anonymous Coward

??

Wat?

If you have nothing to say, say nothing.

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Already here

If you think about it, we already have "wearable computers". OK, they're in the form of smartphones and could be thought of as "pocketable", but for the sake of argument... The problem comes in the interface area. Do we want screens right in front of our eye(s) in the form of augmented reality glasses? How are we going to control them? Voice control has been the next big thing for as long as Virtual Reality. Mind control isn't yet sophisticated enough and may not be practical for fine control, e.g. text entry (the same applies to eye movement, gestures, etc).

I'd suggest that we're going to be stuck with two tier computing for a while yet, one for (mostly) consumption, which could be wearable and one with more "traditional" input methods for creation.

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Gold badge

Re: Already here

I'd imagine that this will all start with smartphones getting more and more complex, and doing more jobs. I'd say a smartphone with docking stations can probably already replace 50% of PCs, as all they do is email and web surfing on a bigger screen.

At the moment the tech is still benefiting from higher speed and bigger batteries, so phones aren't getting smaller, they're getting more capable. I foresee that continuing for a while longer. But it can't be long until there's enough computer power and memory in a mid-range smartphone to replace all but the most hard-worked of PCs. As you're carrying it anyway, you may as well give up on computers and just dock the phone with whatever I/O devices you've got kicking around.

At that point there'll be pressure to make smaller phones again. But the physical size of the device can't get much smaller, due to ergonomics and screen size. At which point it may make sense to split the functions of the device up. A small pocketable thing that's your computer/NFC wallet/phone/ID card(?), and then maybe a roll-up touch screen. Or roll-up screen with input by voice - I don't believe in voice control due to the noise it causes - although I suppose you could have a noise cancelling mic to isolate and pick up the owner's commands, and then another noise cancelling chip to broadcast a sound wave to cancel their voice from the environment...

Can glasses as a screen work? How big is the image projected onto them, or are you looking at a tiny screen, massively magnified? How do you read the thing without your reading glasses, given you're wearing the Google Gasses?

People wear watches, so that's a natural item to use. You could also have rings, so you could have handwriting as an input method. Even have your phone record your handwriting from accelerometers in the ring, so you take notes in a meeting on real paper, and have the OCR version on your computer. Although with a decent small mic, it could be possible to use voice recognition - and record/auto-transcribe every meeting. Rings could also do gesture controls.

The factor I see causing the most problems is batteries. Are they going to improve fast enough. And get small enough fast enough? I've read a few articles suggesting they're only getting about 7% more power density per year. Assuming we stop using more power with each new device today, that still leaves the mobile phone battery in ten years being less than half the size.

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Silver badge
Terminator

Re: Already here

I'd love it if the latest smartphones came with the option of using a pair of glasses to display the screen at a reasonable size in your viewfield

Would make it so much easier than squinting at a 3 inch screen when you find out the website is set only to desktop size (or using the pan/scroll/zoom function to read 1 word at a time.

But by then, we'll all be on cyber-netic implants anyway and told what to belive by our hive queens

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Boffin

This reminds me; Why is it that we never heard from the good Captain (Cyborg), anymore?

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Pint

Who cares what the form factor is?

I want an intelligent smart-gadget. One that when I say "I am thirsty" finds the nearest pub that serves Hopback Summer Lightning and shows me the easiest route there. It needs to anticipate my every move and facilitate my every wish. Lets just call it a Genie and be done with it.

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Silver badge

that "dangerous" bit about augmented reality

I've grave concerns about the attendant dangers but if the author could briefly expand on what he specifically meant I'd be very interested.

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Gold badge
Coat

Re: that "dangerous" bit about augmented reality

Oh, there are many - many - dangers underlying augmented reality. Before we even begin to get into information overload, overreliance on search engines (lack of learning the fundamentals!) and other such things, let's stick to the easiest and most basic:

Augmented reality is to the entire rest of your life what texting is to driving. Don't compute and walk; you'll only enrichen the lawyers. Mine's the one with the "suing for whiplash for dummies" in the pocket...

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Alien

Re: that "dangerous" bit about augmented reality

Ever read the book WE by John Dickinson? http://thebooksmugglers.com/2010/08/book-review-we-by-john-dickinson.html

(Not to be confused with the much earlier We by Yevgeny Zamyatin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_%28novel%29)

Basically everyone on earth is implanted with a "World Ear". A device which allows everyone to communicate through thought: sights, sounds, tastes, feeling, smells, and ideas. Basically it evolves humanity into a people in no more need of language, and an addiction to confirmation by others as each idea is distributed and "discussed". Not to give the entire story away, but partly it devolves to show how each human becomes a cell in a neural net which in turn becomes self aware ... thus WE is in fact a living organism in the true sense of the word.

It's not too difficult to imagine that we're already on such road: These days with SMS / BBM / FB / Twits (no that's not a mistype) is this not already what we're doing? Becoming part of a bigger entity by sending and receiving - then altering and passing on messages. Same as your own brain cells are doing while reading this.

Now if you can imagine such happening, what do you think the WE concerns itself with any individual cell? Do you worry that you're killing some 1000 braincells each time you go on a bender? Be warned: you're only a mite on the wind-shield, no-one's concerned about your life, never mind your individuality.

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....or deprecate on me.

You'll have to build it yourself and implant it in yourself, then.. and, of course, tell none about it.

Also, make sure your third party translator isn't cognitively associated with your second party browser... or your first party search engine... or your keyboard direct-to-display interface. Keep your voice recognition programing far away.

I feel lazier already.

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Coat

Misuse of the joystick interface....

...could be a Resume Generating Event.

Alright, I'm going (as opposed to coming).

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Silver badge

"I want a computer that nobody can shoulder-surf, which works only for me, knows my passwords, accounts, services, habits, moods, likes, dislikes and needs."

This sounds suspiciously like the app occasionally known as Girlfriend x.0.

I don't think I want a computer that does that kind of thing. I wouldn't mind a computer that filters email and FlakeBook posts and tells me about the interesting ones, or which understands quantum theory or [hard topic goes here] better than I do but knows enough about humans to teach it to me effectively, or which can do my job for me while I goof off in Goa.

A wearable device is the ideal use case for a thin client, surely - keep the cycles and personal data distributed securely across the entire Internet, and access what you need from wherever.

Carrying it all around with you makes no sense.

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Silver badge

Carrying it all round with you makes lots of sense...not everyone on the internet has your best interests at heart.

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Flame

perhaps a new form of Amish belief and practice will also arise. People who only use IT at work, shun phones off duty except when they have to and only meet physically present people. As for smart devices, I hate them. Autocorrect on a stupid phone for example. Always wrong. Always. Fridges recommending recipes ? rack off, I want what I want when I want and not stuff some damn health nagware. As for food sources, when I want a feed I will look for one. The last thing I trust is some advertising thing beeping at me. If a company advertises much, by definition, its products are crap. Good stuff sells itself, especially food.

I suspect computing power will continue to become invisible where a definable limited environment and conditions exist; eg Better engine management systems in cars, more basic smarts to reduce the chances of collisions.

Summary: Wearable computing as clothing. Forgetit. A mobile phone/PDA as a bracelet like pilot in Futurama is more likely.

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Silver badge

Do you know something?

I don't want to be always "online".

Sometimes I want to be alone, without anyone having the ability to contact me, know where I am or what I am doing.

I have a mobile phone, the cheapest, simplest one I could get, £4.99 from Carphone Warehouse. It stays at home and I never take it with me. Why did I get it? So that my sister can text me when she needs me to do something for her, she is disabled. That's all.

If someone needs to get in contact if they have my landline number they can use that, if not send me a letter.

Before being accused of being a Luddite, I was, until I retired a sys admin so I know how to use a computer. It's just in my case I prefer to keep them in their place and let me retain control .

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Gold badge

Re: Do you know something?

Whatever makes you feel happy is the right answer for you of course.

However, my definition of being in control of my communications is to have an always-connected device in my pocket. People can contact me wherever I am. If I'm busy, I can ignore it, or choose which calls/texts to answer. If I'm really busy, I can mute it, or switch it off. Likewise, if I'm worried about tracking, I have an off switch. The reason I would argue that I'm more in control than you, is that if you've left your device at home, then you have no option to use it where you are. Even if you decide you need it.

In general, I'm happy to talk to any of my friends who have my mobile number at any time. There are already systems out there that will only ring the phone when certain people (or groups of people) call, and once those get easier to use and become ubiquitous phones will be more under users' control again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EMF

EMF? What?

Please learn some science. Kthxbai.

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Coat

Ghost hacked humans are so pathetic....

( just throwin it out there, anyone else think Togusa has been ghost hacked with his family memories to keep him content and stable for S.9)

My coat has the standard issue big gun inside..

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