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How wearable tech will change the smartphone as you know it

Al Sacco | Jan. 24, 2014
Wearable technology -- smartwatches, smartglasses and more -- may not replace your smartphone altogether, but it's sure to play a key role in the evolution of your handset. Here's why.

This argument makes sense. But people could soon reach a kind of breaking point when they want fewer gadgets, not more. Today I have two smartphones in my pocket, along with my Fitbit. There's a tablet, another handset and a Google Glass in my bag. And there's a laptop in front of me, which I'll pack up when I leave the office for the day. I love gadgets, but it's becoming overwhelming -- not because I don't have space or a purpose for them all, but because they generally don't "like each other," or work together seamlessly. Even the devices that are supposed to get along don't, at least not seamlessly.

Wearables will only complicate this issue. "There's an extreme amount of difficulty in getting all of our devices to coordinate," says Redg Snodgrass, CEO and co-founder of Wearable World, a wearables industry group. "We just haven't solved that problem yet. But we will."

I hope he's right. It is an extremely complex issues. Many vendors don't want their products to Play Well with Others; they want you to invest specifically in their ecosystems. Those same vendors want you to buy more devices, not fewer, so it may not be in their best interests to consolidate technologies. That could bode well for the smartphone.

Snodgrass is passionate about wearables, and he strongly believes that the smartphone's days are numbered. "Smartphones are eventually going to go away. The writing is on the wall, and it's etched in stone.

"The people who say, 'There's not enough real estate, the device is too small, it's too hard to operate, the experience isn't pleasant enough, it's not robust enough, it's not fast enough' — all of those arguments make me yawn," Snodgrass says. "They're the same arguments you heard during the emergence of the smartphone. It's the same thing. In reality, people adjust. Inevitably smartphones in general will go away into something else."

So will wearable tech completely replace the smartphone?

"I don't know yet," Snodgrass says. "But smartwatches are at least a large piece of the pie in what is inevitably the demise of the smartphone."

I'm not so certain. But one thing is for sure: Wearables are taking both the consumer-tech and enterprise-IT worlds by storm, and they have real potential to impact our personal and professional lives in meaningful ways -- smartphone or no smartphone.


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