Over the past year, it seems everyone’s talking about and developing for wearables. Though most of them can be spotted on the faces and wrists of technophiles, in the coming years we believe wearables will become faster and more intuitive, pushing them into the mainstream market. Soon with a flick of your wrist or a blink, you’ll be able to capture moments, receive notifications and even control the temperature in your home.
Our own senior Android engineer Ray Ho has been working hard on making Path available on devices such as the Samsung GALAXY Gear. This week he attended Samsung’s Developers Conference as a panelist to discuss the future of wearables. Here are some of Ray’s thoughts on the space and why he’s excited to work on these projects…
How do you think will wearables transform the way people share?
Smartphones are ubiquitous nowadays. You want to capture a moment at a concert, on a road trip, on the go - you reach into your pocket and take a picture. Wearables will make that even easier - while you fiddle around for your phone, the moment might have already passed. But with Google Glass or GALAXY Gear that process will be much more seamless and faster.
There’s something very powerful about hands-free sharing. You can capture something while driving, or show a first-hand account of how to build something or cook a meal.
Why do you think that Path and wearables are such a great fit?
Path has always been about sharing very personal moments; it’s a place where you can be yourself. To me a Path feed is almost like a stream of consciousness, a place where there aren’t any boundaries and you don’t need to inhibit yourself like on other social networks.
Wearable hardware basically behaves in the same way. It’s always with you, so it’s perfect for capturing a first person account of an experience without having to interrupt the moment in order to share it. That’s why Path and wearables are a great fit - it just makes sharing moments that matter that much faster and more genuine.
One example - when our Android engineer Yiğit was in Turkey visiting his family he used Google Glass when he was playing with his niece. While lifting her up in the air, he captured a first person view of her laughs on Path. Needless to say, everyone reacted with dozens of hearts.
Do you own wearables? Have you personally used Google Glass or Galaxy Gear?
I’ve used both Google Glass and the GALAXY Gear. The thing I noticed the most is that I stopped checking notifications on my phone as much as I used to. I’d see the notification come up on Glass or my wrist would vibrate with GALAXY Gear and I knew I had gotten a notification.
This was significant because notifications, especially on Path, are very valuable. Everyone at the office loves sharing a photo or a funny song and seeing how many people respond to it. Wearables reduce the friction of having to check your phone constantly.
What would you tell other apps that are thinking of partnering with wearables?
Wearables have great potential - and a lot of the companies that are looking to enter the wearables market are only working on the first version of these products. We’re in the early days.
Being early to market on these types of devices can also teach you a lot about what users want to see and experience with your app. You get great feedback, you see what users are liking and what they’d like to see.
What are exciting advances we can expect in the next generation of wearable devices?
My first hope is that they become much sleeker. Right now the hardware is impressive, but it should get to a point where it becomes almost invisible to the wearer.
I also think that soon they’ll have more sensors that will give us insight into our health and our daily activities. Sensors that can monitor your heartbeats, your vitals, brain activity, sleep, maybe even track your BMI.
In the future these sensors could not only help us discover more about ourselves, but also allow us to better perceive our surroundings. For people who are disabled, this functionality could serve to augment their senses, make it easier to perceive the world around them and make once-difficult decisions much simpler.
I think there will also be more interoperability in the future. Regardless of what type of wearable you have, you’ll be able to use them over a wide variety of devices. Anything from your phone, your TV, your stereo - to controlling the lights or the temperature in your house. Interoperability will make wearables ubiquitous like leaving home with your wallet or purse.
Ray has been part of our Android team since September 2011. As a part of the team, he’s touched just about every part of the Android app, from building the backend to tweaking the clock hand animations. He’s also delivered Path on other well-known Android devices, such as Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Samsung GALAXY Gear.