Apple working on ‘wearable computing’ accessories for your iPhone

Dec 19, 2011
Tech

Smartphones are everywhere and owned by nearly half the cell-using population, so it seems that Apple is starting to think about what the next step in the evolution of mobile devices might be. According to a report from the New York Times, the answer is: wearable computers. Or at least, something in the field of […]

Smartphones are everywhere and owned by nearly half the cell-using population, so it seems that Apple is starting to think about what the next step in the evolution of mobile devices might be.

According to a report from the New York Times, the answer is: wearable computers. Or at least, something in the field of wearing your devices as accessories. Apple has been experimenting with this during the past year, as have other major players like Google. One concept detailed in the report is a glass display you’d wear on your sleeve, which is controlled by Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant software.

The report says a “very small group” of Apple employees have been working on the idea of wearable iPhone accessories. Google has hired engineers away from Nokia and Apple to drive its brand of wearable accessories, with the goal in all cases basically being to sell more phones. For Apple, that means more revenue directly from hardware; for Google, it means more advertising revenue.

These concepts aren’t really anything new. Tech companies have been working on wearable computers for a while now, and you can currently buy watch bands that let you snap in an iPod Nano to function as the face. But with the ubiquity of smartphones, the idea of wearable computers could potentially take off in a new way. They’re already small-sized, high-powered computers, and that makes it possible to add accessories that would work without being obtrusive or too big.

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The fact that a lot of iPhone users (and smartphone users in general) are never far from their phones is another big part of while they’ll be the center of the wearable computing wave. The NYT story includes quotes from experts who expect that we’ll be seeing computers integrated more deeply with our lives in the future, like glasses that sport screens in the lenses. If you’re already not a fan of being constantly connected though, you’re not going to like this new change, either.

While wearable concepts seem to be in the major mobile platform makers’ futures, neither Apple nor Google has anything they’re ready to show off to the public. That probably won’t be the case for long, however, especially with both Apple and Google trying to beat one another to the punch. TV sets in your glasses probably aren’t around the corner, but further iterations of iPod watches and shoe accessories that track your workout don’t seem so crazy.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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