The Future Is Now For Cloud Enabled Wearables
The latest research note from CCS Insight projects sales of 411 million smart wearables, worth $34 billion, in 2020. The research firm anticipates robust growth over the next five years, with sales of 123 million units, generating $14 billion in revenue in 2016. Wrist-worn devices are the star innovators in the market, with fitness, activity, and sports trackers accounting for almost 50% of all shipments in the next year, at more than 60 million units. Meanwhile, smartwatch sales are slated to surpass the 30-million unit mark during the same period.
CCS Insight Chief of Research, Ben Wood, said, “Given the rising consumer apathy toward smartphones, it is little wonder so many companies are chasing the rapidly growing opportunity presented by wearables. We’re particularly excited about the potential for augmented and virtual reality devices, and we predict 2016 will be a pivotal year.”
Apple remains the foremost player in the smartwatch market though the company did not meet CCS Insight’s initial forecasts of 20 million Apple Watch sales in 2015. The research firm estimates just over 9 million Apple Watches were sold in 2015, providing the company with a 41% share of the 22 million smartwatches sold in 2015. CCS Insight’s analysis also provides insight on the phenomenon driving augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) and the research firm projects shipments of AR and VR headsets will grow 15 times to 96 million units, worth $14.5 billion, by 2020.
Miniaturization, cloud computing, and wearables technology are inextricably intertwined. Speaking at the first ever London Wearable Technology Conference in March 2014, Intel’s Chief Futurist Steve Brown, believes we will soon be talking about computing at an atomic level. Intel’s current transistor technology, the Tri-Gate transistor, is built on a 22 nanometre (nm) process, but the company is already working on 14nm, 10nm, 7nm and 5nm technology and this is the point when “you start to mess with atoms.” The continued miniaturization of computing will allow us to turn anything into a computer while being able to connect directly to a vast cloud computing infrastructure will make these devices more powerful than ever before.
According to Brown, “huge data centers and cloud computing infrastructure which delivers services over the internet, enables these wearable devices to deliver a much great range of features.” The Chief Futurist also added, “This is important in the world of wearables because many of these devices are not going to deliver great functionality just on their own. They are going to be connected and they are going to be connected to these massive computers with access to data and massive amounts of number crunching.”
Brown also noted that it will be vital for designers and engineers to incorporate the power of the cloud into their device.
The concept of wearables inevitably leads to the question, why not implant this technology directly into the body and dismiss the process of putting on and removing devices? An article titled, Top 10 Implantable Wearables Soon To Be In Your Body, discusses the 10 implantable wearables we may see in the near future. These include:
1) Implantable Smartphones
2) Healing Chips
3) Cyber Pills That Talk To Your Doctor
4) Implantable Birth Control Chips
5) Smart Digital Tattoos
6) Brain Computer Interface
7) Meltable Bio-Batteries
8) Smart Dust
9) Verified Self-RFID Chips
10) Implantable 3D Smart Organs
Each of these technologies appear to enhance the lives of humanity in new and profound ways. Some of these ideas concentrate on reversing/repairing health issues that are the result of lifestyle choices, birth abnormalities, or life accidents. Listed as a Healing Chip, a new bionic pancreas being tested at Boston University, has a tiny sensor on an implantable needle that talks directly to a smartphone app to monitor blood-sugar levels for diabetics.
Another example listed under Cyber Pills describes how a microprocessor embedded in a pill transmits data directly to a prescribing doctor alerting them if a patient is taking the prescribed dosage or whether the medication is having the desired effect in the body. Based on the data transmitted, the prescribing doctor may opt to prescribe another medication within a few hours or days leading to a faster recovery for the patient.
Some lament the advent of wearables and the cloud as a continuation of technological intrusion into our personal lives. They are concerned with the accelerated pace of innovation and are mindful of the projections of Singularity in 2045, the merging of man and machine, as illustrated by the renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil in his documentary Transcendent Man.
Transcendent Man released in 2011 is a two year overview of Ray Kurzweil’s vision of the future that sprang from his 2005 book, The Singularity Is Near (Viking). In this work, Kurzweil argues that by the middle of the 21st century we would reach a technological singularity: an inflection point when artificial and enhanced intelligences would take control of further progress and usher in a kind of earthly nirvana. Genetics, nanotechnology and robotics would put immortality, infinite resources, and boundless intelligence at the disposal of humanity and its sentient creations.
This may sound quite farcical like the crazed rantings of a mad scientist bent on re-animating dead bodies; but the most valuable company on the planet, Google (now Alphabet), doesn’t think so. On December 14, 2012, Kurzweil announced that he was hired by Google as Director Of Engineering focusing on machine learning and language processing. The TechCrunch.com article where Kurzweil’s hiring was announced stated that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are known to be keenly interested in the theory of an upcoming “technological singularity,” a time when human beings and artificially intelligent machines will sync up to push innovation forward at an unprecedentedly fast rate. Kurzweil is one of the most prominent individuals associated with the singularity movement.
Nine months ago at the Exponential Finance Conference in New York City, Kurzweil predicted that humans will become hybrids by the 2030s. That means our brains will be able to connect directly to the cloud, where there will be thousands of computers, and those computers will augment our existing intelligence. He said the brain will connect via nanobots — tiny robots made from DNA strands.
“Our thinking then will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking,” he said. The bigger and more complex the cloud, the more advanced our thinking. By the time we get to the late 2030s or the early 2040s, Kurzweil believes our thinking will be predominately non-biological. We’ll also be able to fully back up our brains. “We’re going to gradually merge and enhance ourselves,” he said. “In my view, that’s the nature of being human — we transcend our limitations.”
Randall Smith – StratoSTACK Product Manager
Illustrations and Copy Edit: Jaime Baldwin- StratoSTACK Digital Media Specialist