This year’s Mobile World Congress included a lot of buzz about “wearable tech”. From smart glasses to smart watches many tech companies and developers are eyeing these new devices as opportunities for new business.
Take for example Samsung’s “Gear 2” smart watch. Samsung was at the conference with one primary mission…get developers working on Gear 2 apps. knowing full well that wearable tech is only as good as what it can do for the user and that means apps.
App development is so important to Samsung that in his keynote address for the company’s “developer day”, Samsung’s Media Solution Center head, Curtis Sasaki, introduced tools that allows developers to create apps for both their wearable tech and Galaxy S5 line of smartphones. Key in the presentation was the software development kit for its Gear 2 smart-watch, which is based on the Tizen operating system, and an SDK for its S Health application. It also launched a Gear Fit SDK that will allow developers to make apps for their Android devices that can interact with the Gear Fit.
According to Sasaki, “One of the key goals was to make it really easy to make Gear applications. ” He also said that the Gear 2 software, while running on Tizen, is ready to interact with Samsung’s Android device because of a widget that runs on the Gear 2. Developers also can create standalone applications for that device. In the case of the Gear Fit, a host application in Android is always required.
Tizen is an open-source software platform based on Linux that is an alternative to Android and Samsung is using three new wearables as a way to launch the new platform. During the conference the mobile device manufacturer unveiled the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit health band. The wrist-base device is Samsung’s first “fitness tracker” and the band includes health-tracking software along with a pedometer functionality. Like the Galaxy S5, it also has a heart rate sensor on board. Unlike most dedicated fitness wearables, though, it also pushes notifications from your smartphone, including third-party alerts from non-Samsung Android apps.
Google can be sighted as the first to truly push this into the public via its Google Glass concept. Their current push is to make the Android operating system available to any type of wearable tech and has plans for releasing its own smart-watch, to be manufactured by LG Electronics. Like Samsung they are leaning heavily on independent and enterprise developers to build apps and are making Android available for free to phone and tablet makers. In the near future they are also releasing a new software development kit based on Andriod specifically for manufacturers and developers of wearable tech.
Unlike Samsung who is pushing an alternative to Android because of perceived instability issues and, because it is proprietary to their products, drive users to buy from only their line of devices, Google wants to keep it “open”. They understand that 80% of smartphones now run Android and, after overcoming some early issues, the expect that 80% of wearables will also be running Android.
From healthcare to enterprise level access to business intelligence, wearable tech is increasingly driving new app development and gives even small companies a reason to get in the game early. For healthcare this could mean direct, ongoing monitoring of patients by way of a wrist-based device like Gear Fit. For a CEO it might mean being able to now call up a complete report vital to a negotiation by way of their Google Glass in real-time, anywhere it is needed and at any time. No more running back to the office in order to interface with your data and information via the desk top ball and chain.
You’ll need help at first and many development companies have been following these new technologies right from the start. Considering how many ways business can be served by utilizing mobile computing and potentially wearable devices, consulting an expert for ideas could give you a “leg up” on your competition.
It seems clear thought that just like the smartphone, wearable tech will create further demand for companies and developers alike to create applications across a wide range of business needs and consumer application markets.