Through the looking glass: An attendee tries Google Glass during a Google developer conference earlier this year. Photo: Getty Images
The pundits are in agreement: 2014 will be the year that the market for wearable devices takes off.
But if you think wearable devices are limited to things like the popular Nike FuelBand and the much publicised Google Glass, think again. Californian software developer EyeMynd claims to have developed a "Brain Operating System" that, it says, "allows anyone to interact with their electronic device just by thinking what they want to occur".
According to founder and chief executive, Dan Cook, it will soon be possible to use EyeMynd's technology to control your computer by thought alone.
"With the help from wearable neuro-headsets that will be on the market in 2014 connected to very smart brain signal processing software that we have developed, all of us will soon be able to effortlessly surf the internet, compose email and text messages, move a wheelchair, and play video games using the power of our thoughts alone," he said.
Even though brain-controlled technologies are still unavailable beyond the realm of scientific developments that are already helping the disabled, Juniper Research, Forrester Research, Deloitte and others have recently issued 2014 forecasts predicting a surge in the sale and use of wearable devices.
According to Juniper Research, next year will be "the watershed year for wearable devices, both in terms of rollouts and market traction".
Deloitte estimates the global market for wearables will be worth in excess of $2 billion in 2014, heavily dominated by a few device types. "Smart glasses are likely to sell millions of units at a price point of about $500," it says.
The Australian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association's Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index, which is based on a survey of more than 2300 Australians aged 18-75, suggested that wearable device users would treble in 2014. Five per cent of the respondents to the survey, which was published in October, said they already owned a wearable mobile device and 17 per cent said they intended to buy one in the next 12 months. This would have 20 per cent of 18-75 year olds using a wearable device by August 2014.
However according to the author of the report, Dr Marisa Maio Mackay, director of Complete the Picture Consulting, the market is heavily male dominated, which suggests that wearable devices are still in the "gadget" category. "Over 70 per cent of current users are male and when we look at those that intend to purchase in the next 12 months, over 65 per cent are male," she told IT Pro.
Cloud computing will play a key role in the wearable device market, according to Angus Dorney, director and general manager ANZ of cloud computing service provider Rackspace.
"Cloud services, such as computing, storage and a suite of new databases will power the wearable technology revolution," he said. "[They allow] the data generated by wearable devices to be captured, analysed and made readily accessible whenever users need it."
Forrester senior analyst Tim Sheedy says this level of integration is still several years away. "There is a massive amount of data being generated by these devices but at present we are a long way from being able to integrate and make sense of any of that data," he said.
Nevertheless he expects wearables to make a dramatic impact on consumer lifestyles. "The first wave of wearables has been successful and will continue to be successful because it augments what we do every day," he said. "The next wave will change the world because it will give us information that we could never have got previously."