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Why Apple's wearable technology will be personal technology

Marco Tabini | April 8, 2014
There is no shortage of signs that wearable technology is the next big thing in the world of personal electronics.

Command and control

On a more mundane level, wearable tech could improve our lives merely by being attached to our bodies. For example, a wearable device could very easily double as a TV remote, thus saving you from having to keep track of where your actual TV remote is, or whether its batteries are charged.

Or, perhaps, the technology behind Passbook could be extended to allow your wearable tech to identify you, making it easier to unlock your doors, pay for your groceries, turn on your car, or get through security at work. Unlike a smartphone, a wearable device is always at hand (or maybe at your fingertips) no matter where you go, making these kinds of interaction much more organic and convenient.

In all these cases, Apple's huge advantage is its complete control over the iOS platform. Like Android, iOS is in the hands of hundreds of millions of people. Unlike Android, however, it's tightly controlled by a single entity that has, so far, only allowed limited fragmentation of its ecosystem, and it also tends to find its way into the hands of users that actively engage with everything it has to offer.

This places the company in the unique position of being able to offer manufacturers of sensors and other personal-tech devices a common platform on which they are forced to make their products work well with one another — a major problem in today's market — in exchange for access to a community of eager users that like to invest in their electronics.

Much as it has done with CarPlay, Apple could leverage its market position to make its wearable device interact with a wide range of external systems, from TV sets to security systems, and dramatically improve the quality of our lives by removing all sorts of inconveniences.

Let form follow function

Far from the doom-and-gloom scenarios painted by industry analysts who claim that Apple must introduce an "iWatch" before competitors eat its corporate lunch, the future of wearable technologies is still entirely up for grabs.

This makes the current batch of watches and glasses little more than a distraction; by focusing on form, rather than function, they limit our ability to envision the kind of changes that the wearable-tech equivalent of an iPhone could bring.

Nobody but Apple knows what the company's wearable device will look like; it may well wrap around your wrist, or possibly around your finger, or perhaps take some other form that makes it less visible and yet equally functional. Either way, I can't wait to find out what this new technology will do for us, whatever its form.

 

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