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How Wearables Work: Smart Glasses and Smart Watches

Online chatter about smart wearable technology isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it continues to grow as the smart revolution evolves. As the world starts to realize new uses and benefits for wearables from activity trackers to smart glasses, you can expect to see more wearable apps and devices to hit the market in the near future. This post will focus on how smart glasses and smart watches work.

At the present moment, you can say that smart watches and smart glasses are in their infant stage of development and product life cycle. There are products out there like Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble, Apple Watch, and Google Glass, but they still have a long way to go before mass adoption. Right now they are basically accessories for your smartphone (and rendered useless without a smartphone).

Smart Glasses

Smart glasses like the Google Glass work by connecting to your smartphone via Bluetooth and at the present time they work better with Android phones. The wearable device essentially works by connecting to Google’s MyGlass app which can be downloaded from Google Play. It comes with free data tethering from a mobile phone, SMS, and turn-by-turn navigation.

All smart watches currently support fairly recent Android phones (except Galaxy Gear that only works with some Samsung phones) while only Martian Watch and Pebble work well with the iPhone.
Native apps still work much better than third-party apps at present, with the latter is still too slow and cumbersome. However, in my experience Twitter has been the exception.

Smart Watches

When compared to smart glasses, smart watches have quite a number of brands competing for the same market. They are all inspired by traditional watches with a screen replacing the watch face. Some like Pebble use buttons on the side and others use touch screens. A few smart watches also have microphones (for making calls) and cameras. Some have wristbands that can be replaced while others have some of their hardware integrated into the strap. They all connect via Bluetooth and they all provide notifications via vibration.

Are you looking to build an app for a wearable gadget?

Google wants to change the way you perceive the world with smart glasses (having the best search engine in your field of vision can’t be a bad thing) while smart watches try to cut down the time it takes to view your notifications. So their intended functions are significantly different.

So what does this mean for Wearable App Developers?

All backend developers for smart glasses and watches need to focus on three areas when engaging in app development:

  • Real-time synchronization: it’s not always easy to seamlessly synch user data across devices or platforms. This is a result of most backend services not going beyond smartphones and tablets, but this is going to get better as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality. Soon complex data will need to be shared across more devices than glasses or smart watches. Before you know it there will be data transmitted from smart cars, homes (expect home appliances like your refrigerator to become smart), and retail stores.
  • Scalability: To provide scalable solutions, it’s usually easier to do with front-end databases. But things are changing and backend developers have started to focus on scalability. For this to become a reality, companies that require backend solutions will need to have their storage increase concurrently to match the size of growth.
  • Security: With so much sensitive data floating around, data protection becomes a significant issue. For any app developed for the smart watch or the smart glass to succeed, they have to maintain a high level of security and privacy. In anticipation of these threats, backend developers have started to focus on protecting user data with two-key encryption. By using two separate keys for any piece of data can ensure that the data is secure (even during synchronization with other platforms and devices in real-time).

Smart glasses can take video and transmit the feed in real-time, so there are a lot of privacy concerns here that developers need to keep up to date on when developing apps for smart glasses. Smart watches on the other hand are a little bit easier to deal with on the privacy and security side of things as they are essentially only monitoring the users’ activities and not collecting data from the general public.

As this segment of the IoT market is still fresh and evolving, third-party apps will also become better integrated with smart wearables in the near future. It basically comes down to incorporating more than just smartphones and tablets when building apps in the future. So expect developers to change their approach and thinking while developing mobile and wearable apps in the coming months.

Interested in app development for wearable tech? Check out our Wearable App Development offering!

What was your experience with app development for smart wearables?

Featured image courtesy of Intersog

Vik is our Brand Journalist and Head of Online Marketing / PR with 11+ years of international experience in IT B2B. He's also a guest blog contributor to Business2community, SitePoint, Journal of mHealth, Wearable Valley and other IT portals.