I had the pleasure of visiting my friends at Google today. We met so that I could demo the latest Android watches and discuss the future of these products and the potential applications of Android Wear and other wearable technologies. If you know me you’re sick of hearing about how psyched I am about wearables in general. It’s obvious that they’re going to change the fundamental ways humans interact with computers and machines and that’s incredibly exciting to me.
But that’s not what was interesting about today’s meeting. Most interesting to me was the philosophy Google applies to these new devices, and how little they admit they know about how they will be used and applied in the future. Despite the fact that there are multiple devices in market, Google admits that the most exciting applications are yet to come. And they don’t even think they will necessarily be the ones to invent these use cases; just like Android the Google team believes in an open platform, accessible to all innovators who care to dream up and create new uses for wearable devices. Today, an Android watch can make it much easier to read messages, archive emails, and maybe even order a car or get directions. But admittedly this is just the beginning, and the Google team seems to agree.
I’ve always been a fan of open systems – they encourage innovation and are generally good for the consumer (just see my favorite book, The Master Switch). It’s refreshing to talk with representatives of a company as large as Google who can admit that they themselves don’t have all the best ideas, and can’t even design the best product. They simply provide the essential architecture and software, and let others have at it. Clearly the future of wearables will be determined by innovative designers and engineers who care tear apart Android Wear and flexible hardware options to create devices and uses cases we haven’t even thought of yet.