Are You Ready for Wearable Computing?
Wearable computing isn’t a new concept. It has existed for several years now, and even in the last decade we’ve known of investments and research in wearable computing by industry leaders such as Microsoft. But wearable computing has also had its share of ups and downs through the years.
Recently though we have been seeing a lot of uptake in wearable computing, and studies show a lot of promise for this area—projecting it to be a $1.5 billion market by 2014. Advancements in technology, how it is becoming intertwined with day-to-day living, and the availability of better quality hardware at cheaper prices are some of the key factors contributing to the growth of this segment.
Infotainment, healthcare, and fitness are popular domains in which wearable computing has taken hold, and if one were to co-relate this to the technology trends for 2013, the potential for this space seems very bright.
As we watch newer wearable products enter the market, it's interesting to see what this means to developers and testers. Core factors in the success of a wearable product include basic functionality, performance, responsiveness, seamless data integration to bring in synchronization across devices, device compatibility, and overall user interface—not just from a software user interface but more importantly from a hardware aesthetics angle.
Several of these attributes are not rocket science for a developers and testers given the increasing role played by the hardware, but it will be important to understand the hardware-software interaction and get a holistic view rather than to focus solely on the software element. Thanks to the mobile computing wave and the push for sleeker devices, the industry is already getting acclimated to the hardware-software interactions.
But given that we take it to the next level in wearable computing, we will have to account for certain newer aspects such as physical safety and performance in the use of these devices.
In addition to the hardware-software interaction, another area that might be new to work on is the big data testing space. This along with semantic web and interactive computing are turning out to be important enablers in the success of wearable computing software in the marketplace.
While wearable computing devices could be tested in labs or a simulated environment, field testing will gain greater prominence. Take wearable glasses for instance. Testers must wear the glasses and physically travel to locations to conduct specific scenario testing to get the desired levels of coverage. There have been specific cases where companies have conducted wearable computing testing in exotic locations in rough and adventurous terrains to verify product implementation.
Although as a developer or tester you may not directly work on a wearable computing product, it might not be a bad investment to buy a wearable piece to understand specifics of how they work. Wearable devices will bring much greater attention to the human-to-computer interface that we all need to understand and embrace as professionals in the software industry.