Who would pay US$3995 ($8,986 today) to own a early prototype of a consumer device that could only be used for 30 minutes? I don't know, but someone did this week, March 1984, 31 years ago. Seems ludicrous, except that the device was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the first commercially available cellular phone. That day, some unknown consumer started living in the future, as today there are billions of users.
The wearable computing devices we see today are making similar history. Some are already wildly successful - even if they are going unremarked. The LG Tone Pro-style around-the-neck bluetooth stereo headphones are on several best seller lists on Amazon, and I rarely walk around in public without seeing a pair. Other, more experimental devices like Google Glass have shown that the public "gets it," even if the price tag is more like that of the $9000 DynaTAC than the Diamond Rio (the first commercially successful wearable MP3 player, sold at $291 in today's money). With numerous technological pieces finally falling into place to make wearables feasible for business and consumers (not the least of which, widespread deployment of low power Bluetooth and low latency cellular networks), I expect to see a wave of products, some of which will really change our lives in the next decade.
As many of you know, this journey has been very personal for me and various teams of enthusiasts. This year is the 25th since I started trying to make a wearable computer that I could use in my everyday life - for note taking, augmented memory, music, navigation, messaging, health/fitness, augmented reality, social collectives, and basically everything people do on a laptop or smart phone these days. During that time, two thoughts have really inspired me:
1) "Time makes more converts than reason." Thomas Paine
2) The best way to invent the future is to live in it (with nods to Alan Kay, Abraham Lincoln, and my colleague Gregory Abowd)
Here's to hoping that soon more people will be inventing the future with us by wearing it.