In Simon & Garfunkel’s 1968 cross-country anthem “America,” Paul Simon cautioned: “be careful, his bowtie is really a camera.”
Little did Simon know that 45 years later not only would the majority of Americans carry miniature cameras in their pockets, but some now wear Internet-powered glasses that capture life as it unfolds (Google Glass); wristwatches that monitor health information (smart watches); and smart clothing and e-textiles that provide meaningful data for work and play.
This wearable technology revolution is powered by the cloud.
These electronic devices are designed for both function and fashion, and they generate data that is stored and analyzed in the cloud. Users can then download these insights from the cloud anywhere and at any time, which enables them to manage their fitness goals, career ambitions, finances and personal relationships.
What’s better is that these cloud-powered wearable technologies are making users feel more intelligent, self-confident and in control of their lives, according to a new Rackspace study released earlier this week.
The research, called "The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity," found that there is much fanfare from British and American users surrounding these devices. The numbers are staggering. Eighty-two percent of wearable technology users in America and 71 percent in Britain say that these cloud-powered devices enhance their lives.
Of the 4,000 people surveyed, one in three said that these devices have helped their career development. Nearly half of all respondents from the UK and 59 percent of those from the United States believe that wearable tech helps them feel more in control of their lives.
And more than half of all people polled said that using these devices has boosted their creativity and personal efficiency while helping them stay in touch with their family and friends.
Despite its popularity, wearable tech doesn’t come without its flaws.
A device is only as good as the data it delivers, and its accuracy and insight is what keeps customers engaged, according to Rackspace Startup Liaison Officer Robert Scoble.
There's also a common frustration around the quality and accuracy of data provided by these devices. Scoble says that as the market matures, the clear winners will be the manufacturers who manage to resolve these data issues to drive competitive advantage.
On a broader note, device and cloud vendors are already working together to enhance the quality of data capture and analysis that will help more and more people go digital and take better advantage of these wearable technologies.
Ultimately, wearable technology only takes off if the services that use the data are interesting and valuable to consumers. However, the sheer volume of global data that will be involved means that these services, and the technology itself, will not work without cloud powering it.