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Jason Ogaard: The future is now, and we’ll be wearing it

In 2007, Microsoft was the premier technology company in the world. Google already was established and, in many ways, were better than Microsoft, but Microsoft still had a stranglehold on the technology market through their Windows operating system and Microsoft Office suite.

Then the iPhone came out. Before the iPhone, smartphones were sort of a novelty. You could check your email but that was about it. It was painful to do anything else related to the Internet on a smartphone before the iPhone. People still did most of their computing on a traditional computer.

The iPhone showed us that a smartphone can deliver a good user Internet experience. It demonstrated smartphones were more than a novelty.

In the ensuing years, millions of people switched to smartphones. Today, people do a significant percentage of Internet consumption on their phones. The once-established Microsoft has been left playing catch up. iOS and Android are now considered operating systems that people use and Microsoft has lost a ton of market share because they didn’t hop on the smartphone bandwagon until recently. It’s only been in the past couple of years that they’ve released a competitive mobile OS. Microsoft recently took a big leap with Windows 8, trying to marry the desktop and mobile OS as one.

You could say smartphones started a mobile revolution — where many people do their computing tasks on tablets and phones rather than complete computers. Owning a tablet myself, I can say that tablets do 90 percent of everything that I want. A tablet/phone would probably meet 100 percent of several people’s needs. The next revolution seems to be right now. Wearable devices seem to be what’s next.

A wearable device is one that you would normally wear but is also considered to be ‘smart.’ Smart in that it can do a lot of computing. The first wave of wearable devices will be synced with your smartphone. Your phone can do most of the work while the device can display results.

The first successful wearable device is already being sold. Pebble Technology started a campaign on to raise funds for a watch that would sync with your phone via Bluetooth and display various information. The campaign raised more than $10 million when the goal was only $100,000. The watch will display incoming phone calls, text messages, updates from various apps, etc. Considering that Pebble beat their goal by more than 100 fold, the market for wearable devices appears to be large. The Pebble Watch is already being delivered to the backers and will become available to the general public soon.

Google recently opened up a beta for its first wearable device, Google Glass, which looks pretty odd. You wear a set of glass frames on your head and there’s a small screen off to the side of one in front of your eye. That screen can display information, video, web pages, just about anything since it’s possible to write apps for Glass. It can also take pictures and record video. It’s rumored that Apple is making a smart watch that will sync up with your iPhone.

In the coming years, we’ll see all sorts of new wearable devices. Most will be watches, but some will be something else all together. I wonder if Microsoft will trail the pack in this market, too.

— Jason Ogaard was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis based public company providing analytics and decision-making services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.