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2014 will be year of smart watches

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Last year, Pebble, one of the first smartwatches truly compatible with iOS and Android devices, was released via Kickstarter crowdsourcing. While it has been a somewhat successful product, it has only managed to sell around a few hundred thousand units and has not yet reached mainstream level. Despite the fact that Best Buy and other technology chains now carry it, those outside of the most tech-savvy group of young people do not seem to have been convinced yet that they need a smart watch.

However, the status of smart watches is about to change. 2014 will be the year of smart watches. Last week, Google announced that it will finally be making a serious entrance into the market with Android Wear — a minimal version of the Android operating system created specially for watches, which allows voice control, notifications at a glance, and support for a wide array of health monitoring devices.

Additionally, Motorola announced the summer release of one of the first devices to support this newly adapted operating system: the Moto 360. Motorola took an interesting approach to the watch’s design, abandoning the rectangular form factor of previous smart watches in favor of a circular design resembling traditional watches. Motorola focused as much on the design as the specs and has finally created something that will provide people with a familiar, attractive design.

Google has officially entered the market, and consumers and analysts are anticipating an Apple iWatch to be released before long. Over the past year, Apple has hired numerous health specialists, who are likely working on some kind of wearable fitness device. Last week, renderings of a Healthbook app — including real-time monitoring of various vitals such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and more — were also leaked by 9to5Mac.

As Digital Trends suggests, the iWatch will likely provide data for this application — controlled through Siri — and carry many features similar to Android Wear. The iWatch, as well as Android Wear devices, will not attempt to replace current smartphones, but to supplement them. These devices will provide a minimal always-on display of notifications, events, and more, meaning that people will finally be able to keep their phones in their pockets and focus more on the people around them.

The arrival of mainstream smart watches represents a change in lifestyle, in which technology becomes more continuously integrated into our lives. Instead of constantly reaching for our phones and taking time out of our lives to monitor notifications and events through various apps, we will always be able to obtain a given moment’s most important information with a simple glance at our wrists.

It’s ironic to think that new technology may allow us to become more sociable and fit, instead of the usual opposite result. The fact that we will be able to simply glance at our notifications, like people have glanced at watches for centuries, means that we will spend less time in the digital world and more time in the real world, while staying connected simultaneously.

Because smart watches provide useful features and are now more similar to traditional watches that are already mainstream, people will soon be lining the stores to get their own.