May 11, 2014

Where, Oh Where Can Wearables Go?

I recently read an article about Google “Glass” going commercial. Now, we can debate the pros and cons of people walking around, concentrating more on a small piece of glass in front of their faces than on the nature around them, the car in the next lane, or, well, their families.

But putting all that aside, there’s another important issue currently being brushed aside that deserves to be right in the forefront. And like Google wants “Glass” to be, it’s right in front of our noses.

You see, this current fad regarding wearables, while seeing some positive momentum, is all based on the same premise: For a wearable device to communicate properly, we have to also carry a second device, a device known as the “cell phone.”

And while it’s interesting to see how the wearables craze is growing, let’s be honest: Having a device on your wrist that informs you of your need to check your phone in your pocket for a new WhatsApp message is not exactly as good as it can get, in terms of wearables.

But you know what IS as good as it gets?

How about someone with a severe health problems interested in going on vacation, but his doctor tells him that daily monitoring of his vital signs are too important to allow that trip to the cabin on the lake?

Or, perhaps on the other side of the equation, what about the convicted criminal who is on house arrest? Perhaps we want to give that person the ability to walk up and down his/her street, but not beyond. This kind of geofencing can make a tremendous difference in that criminal’s rehabilitation.

These are just two examples of how wearables can truly impact society in a positive manner, and they go well beyond the novelty of being able to see on your watch that you’ve got mail.

However, these applications require a connection much more reliable and consistent than WiFi or even a cell phone can offer. They require 24/7, direct, ongoing communication.

I’ve been talking about the growth of single-mode LTE for the past several months, from the deal with Verizon, to the HP/Google Chromebook launch to any of the dozens of other deployments Altair has in place today.

And, for the most part, ironically, single-mode LTE and wearables have seen significant growth on almost the same timeline.

But where things can really get exciting for wearables will also make things more exciting for us in the LTE world: When wearables are being worn for critical applications like eHealth, law enforcement and other areas of geofencing.

And compared to those applications – which can literally save lives – being able to check your Twitter account on your Glass will look like child’s play.