Over the weekend at SXSW, Google announced it would add an SDK to its platform to enable communication with wearable devices running on Android. Google SVP of Android and Chrome Sundar Pichai said Google is focused on creating microchips to place in jackets, watches and glasses to let them operate in sync with Android phones.
For many, Pichai’s words communicated Google’s seriousness about the new technology frontier without committing to manufacturing. He may have also predicted the future of wearable tech as one where technology companies develop the software and leave rest to those with experience: clothing, sportswear, and watches & jewelry brands.
Google Glass and Apple’s hiring of designers from luxury brands have gotten publicity, but performance-tracking gadgets such as Fitbit, Nike Fuel, Under Armour and Adidas’ miCoach materialized and gathered a following. The Nike+ community (includes FuelBand, Sportswatch, and mobile app) reached 11 million, and the entire wearable fitness industry is expected to grow to $50 billion in the next five years.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s two smartwatches (running on Samsung-owned Tizen software) have gotten unfavorable reviews.
Our Digital IQ Index: Sportswear shows only 30% of sportswear apps have adopted the Android, compared to 51% that have adopted the iPhone. Perhaps by increasing that number, Android’s open-sourced model could do for wearable tech what it has done for smartphones.