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Top tech stories of 2013: Big Brother, wearables, and the struggles of aging tech giants

Marc Ferranti | Dec. 10, 2013
Politics collided with the world of technology this year as stories about U.S. government spying stirred angst both among the country's citizens and foreign governments, and the flawed HeathCare.gov site got American health-care reform off to a rocky start.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear and the advent of smartwatches

Despite its poor reception with early reviewers, Samsung's Galaxy Gear, unveiled in September, has helped establish the smartwatch market. The watch sports a 1.6-inch screen and displays email, text or call notifications from a few Galaxy smartphones. Samsung is also working to make the device with products such as TVs and various network devices. The Galaxy Gear suffered from issues including intermittent notification problems for many users, and critics attacked Samsung's long-perceived weaknesses in software engineering and design. But the company reported that it shipped 800,000 of the watches to retailers within two months, making it the most popular such device. With Qualcomm and Sony also launching smartwatches, a Google device expected soon and an Apple smartwatch reportedly in the making, users can expect the competition to result in more polished, advanced devices.

Google Glass: sideshow or the future of computing?

Google Glass was first unveiled in 2012 year and is not expected to be generally available until next year. But it was the most hyped wearable in tech this year as developers got their hands on prototypes, followed by a select group of early adopters who had shelled out $1,500 to get "Explorer" versions of the devices -- essentially optical, head-mounted display computers that users can control with voice commands. Public reaction has provided an inkling of how wearable technology might affect culture. Police arrested a driver who was wearing the device; a surgeon used the device while performing surgery; government officials raised questions of privacy since facial recognition is an obvious application. Meanwhile, Google announced it would disallow sex-related applications and declared that facial recognition applications would not be enabled until privacy questions have been settled. Expect another wave of Glass mania when the lower-priced commercial version comes out next year.

 

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