Wearable Tech

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This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was crowded with wearable technology like smart watches, fitness trackers, and Bluetooth jewelry. Google Glass is already in the hands of a few select early-adopters. Even those brands without a wearable device on the market, such as Apple and Microsoft, are rumored to have them in the works. Manufacturers believe it will be an integral part of how we will interact with technology in the future. Is it ready to join your arsenal of mobile technology?

Smart Watches and Bluetooth Jewelry

Wearable technology appeals to those looking to have constant access to certain information. If you find yourself constantly glancing at or tapping on your Smartphone, a smart watch may be a way to put the phone down without missing something important.

If you tend to pick up your phone to check a text and then get distracted scrolling your Facebook feed, limiting the functionality of the device in-hand to “just the facts” may encourage you to be less distracted. A smart watch limits what you see to notifications (of texts, calendar alerts, etc.) and certain app data. Yet having notifications ping you even when you don’t have your phone in hand could make you even more distracted by your texts, alerts and emails and less engaged with your face-to-face companions.

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The biggest problem that I have with smart watches and Bluetooth jewelry is that they don’t actually un-tether you from your phone. They work with Bluetooth to send alerts from your phone to the device (or send data from your person to your phone), so you have to have your phone in constant proximity for them to remain fully functional.

While the Pebble Smart Watch supports both Android and iOS devices, most smart watches are compatible with just one platform. In the case of the popular Samsung Galaxy Gear, it’s compatible with just ONE device. When you change out your phone every 2-3 years, spending $150-200 on a device that might not work with your next phone strikes me as a pricey gamble.

Most Bluetooth jewelry is designed to work with a specific app running on your phone. The limited functionality of these devices puts them in the fad department for the moment, in my opinion.

Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers such as the FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand, Jawbone UP and Basis B1 (to name just a few of the many fitness trackers on the market) can offer great real time tracking and motivation. Having worn a FitBit for close to a year I can attest to the subtle encouragement to get moving that the little growing flower on the device offered, and it made it easier to keep sight of my fitness goals. For anyone that is motivated by competition (either with their own personal “bests” or other users), fitness trackers can be a great resource.

Of the wearable technology currently on the market, fitness trackers offer the most usefulness, at least to the market of people looking to monitor and improve their health and/or fitness.

Google Glass

The biggest “wow-factor” offered by Google Glass is the ability to have information overlaid on your field of vision, such as directions without looking down at your phone or instant Google searches to impress your co-workers with your quick draw statistics. Capture photos or video without having to see a special event through the lens of your camera or smart phone. And like a smart watch, get you notifications and alerts delivered right to your… face.

The biggest hurdles to the mass implementation are cost and public perception. Even if I was inclined to see the world through the augmented reality of Google Glass, the $1,500 price tag puts them squarely out of my reach.

And a skeptical public has taken to nicknaming early adopters “Glassholes” (Google has named them “Glass Explorers”). Whether it’s the fact that they’re so inaccessible to the general public or concerns about privacy (their ability to surreptitiously film makes them questionable in many private situations), Google has a long way to go to get its Glass accepted by the masses.

Public Perception Hurdles. From movie theaters to restaurants, several public places have already begun banning Google Glass, citing copyright issues or the privacy of fellow patrons. Smart watch users will likely get irritated sighs or nudges if they spend too much time glancing at their wrist, or worse, use the speakerphone option to take a call with the device. If you’re planning to wear a piece of technology on your wrist or face, be prepared for some curious looks and downright hostility if you don’t use your device with some subtlety.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.