Here's why Apple's iWatch could be a Google Glass killer

Chase Bonar
 from Winter Springs, FL
Published: March 7, 2013

I've been reading an innumerable amount of stories about Google Glass because I'm enthralled by its ingenuity. An electronic pair of glasses for my face? Really? You'd do that for me, Google? Oh alright, why not, you've talked me into it. Can I get the Prada pair in white?

All things considered, Glass is betting on augmented reality as the the next big thing for the Mountain View-based search giant. Could it be their introduction into every one's lives like Apple's first iPhone was? That's what Google and I are hoping. Google wants to bare the brunt of the fashion world and the technology frontier. They're going for a "ba-da-bing, it's Google for your face" approach.

Like I said...why not?

But on the other side of that technology armoire you've been preparing is another functional piece getting a digital refresh. Complimentary in nature, yet substitutive in functionality, Apple's iWatch smartwatch could bring functionality whilst remaining a bit more low-key compared to a Google face computer.

If a digital companion for your smartphone is all you are looking for, I'm having a hard time justifying glasses over a watch.

Apple's iWatch is another form of wearable tech with complementary attributes to your smart device of choice. Like Google Glass, Apple's iWatch will require a network connection. Yet, a watch is much less intrusive. As opposed to a pair of computer glasses, a wristwatch is a more subdued approach to staying connected.

A watch has history. A smartwatch is a montage of old technology revamped to mask its tender, astute ways. A watch is proven and tested with prompt (har, har) results each and every time. What's it do when it's not smart? It will tell you the time...and being on time is cool.

I've been reading a lot about the mysterious iWatch from Apple. It seems there are more reasons for it to be a success for Apple, than reasons Google has for Glass.

First, a smartwatch is not innovative. Innovation is risky. Apple has the luxury of rehashing tech and selling them as "new" anyway. Even though smartwatches are not new, they're hip by today's standards. On the other hand, computer glasses are completely revolutionary and inherently risky. Pebble is the most recent start up company to successfully launch an affordable smartphone complementary device. I've even written about the Neptune Pine smartwatch which is an unabashed attempt at bringing complete smartphone functionality to your wrist. Clearly, wearable tech is trending. Yet, back up a bit and you'll realize the idea of a computerized wristwatch is far from fresh, and far from proven even though it's an old concept.

In the 1970's and 1980's Seiko released a number of smart wristwatches. The Pulsar and Data 2000 were pretty damn neat back in the day even if they were sinfully simple compared to today's computing craze. But they were impractical due to their size. Thin, bezel-less, and light gadgets are "in" and the technology for a computerized wristwatch has not always been there. Partially a victim of technology available, and practicality, the smartwatch has had a long, rough start to mainstream adoption. Most recently, size has become the driving force behind the latest technological gizmos. Where smartwatches used to come with a full 112 digit keyboard, we now have capacitive touchscreens for input.  In other words, a smartwatch with all the necessary features and specifications will fit on your wrist now.

Basically, the manufacturing techniques used to create the small computing machines we so desperately desire have caught up to the smart wristwatch. Offering a fuctional experience akin to a computer has never been an option in the past, and a technoligical limitation. Today, manufacturers have the technology to bring the wristwatch computing principle into play. Dual-core processors, Bluetooth, wireless a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS, and biometric sensors can now be packed into the smallest smart things.

But technology is only half the battle with any "smart" device.

This is where Glass comes in. Glass is the first augmented reality unit you really wear. It sits on your face. As long as you have a smartphone, you can use a Glass by El Goog. However, it's not that simple for Google.

Long before the idea of a set of eyeglasses wirelessly connected to your smartphone came about, security was a concern for wireless connections. Glass faces these same concerns as well as privacy concerns because it has a video camera. If you're worried about being recorded when you don't want to be, Google would say the light on Google Glass lets you know when it's recording. Yet, what about Glass from the third-party's perspective? What honest defense does someone who is being recorded have against Glass streaming your keg stand live?

Until it's announced, we won't have an answer to that question. However, in a recent post by PCMag.com, some interesting tidbits related to the security of Apple's iWatch have already been addressed. The article states conclusive evidence in the field of information security that an iWatch by Apple may replicate.

Apple's iWatch would be paired via Bluetooth to a smartphone. A token-based security authentication code could be paired between the iWatch and the iPhone, for example. In one example, the smartwatch could serve as a proximity-based security feature for eachother in the absence of the other. If the iWatch isn't near the iPhone it's paired to, it could remain locked, or only turn on with limited functionality. This token-based security could work both ways. If the iWatch is absent from the iPhone, two-factor authentication could prevent the iPhone from being unlocked with the password appearing on the device its paired to.

Then there's the idea of biometric security playing a role in a wristwatch. Biometric sensors are rampant in active accessories like Nike's FuelBand and FitBit. They track human biological states. But in a smartwatch, it could serve as an added level of security for whatever device the iWatch is paired with. It would be wise to consider the implications of DNA-based authentication (fingerprinting, hand print, or heart rate) and behavioral authentication (rhythm and voice) of an iWatch working with whatever device it's paired with as an additional security measure.

I've previously written about smartphones being able to smell you in the not-so-distant future and that idea melted my face. That idea is really, really far out (dude). If an iWatch added these security measures to safeguard my information and identity, it would be just as wild as a smelling computer. Security could be a major selling point of a smartwatch no matter your opinion of its practicality. I love Google Glass, but I won't be completely convinced of its security until Google formally addresses the privacy concerns.

With all of the shenanigans surrounding Google Glass and privacy, they surely have a feat to overcome in the security realm. For all practical purposes, Glass will serve a hightened level of connectivity, one that a smartwatch can only mimic. Along with Google, I am convinced of the augmented reality perks of Google on my face. It sounds like a great utility. However, in the day and age of increased cyber-attacks, and Android receiving the short end of the stick in comparison to iOS and BB10, Google has some issues to address with Glass and privacy.

How do you feel about two-stage authentication security playing a role in wearable tech? What about biometric sensors and proximity-based token security? Is Apple on the verge of revolutionizing digital privacy, or is Google Glass innovative enough to diverge the attention? Let me know what you think about wearable tech, how much of an Apple fanboy you think I am, and anything else you deem relevant to the discussion in the comments below!

Images via SlashGear and PatentlyApple.

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