(08/20/12) Julie Sartain
The technology associated with wearable computers is growing quickly and could become a priority in the near future. Altimeter Group analysts call this phenomenon the sentient world, because it has to do with machines thinking and communicating with humans instead of just taking instructions. "Our research around this sentient world has more to do with the fact that machines and environments will begin to learn over time instead of simply anticipating our commands or making our commands easier to input," says Altimeter Group analyst Chris Silva. He says in the next 18 months there will be more mass-marketing applications for multiple sensors that will exploit people's omnipresent connection computers. "The eyeglasses are really cool, but they're just too far out there for a lot of people to grab any time soon," says Forrester analyst Frank Gillette. In order to realize the full potential of wearable computing, companies needs to consider the ergonomics, performance, reliability, flexibility, and manageability of the overall solution, says Motorola's Darren Koffer. For example, Belgian researchers recently presented an energy-harvesting technology that uses thermoelectric elements integrated into textiles to produce enough energy to power body sensors such as a heart rate monitor, a pulse oxymeter, or a watch.