The Next Big Thing In Wearable Tech May Be Ear Computers

Rachel Feltman | Quartz | April 10, 2014

The future of “smart” wearable devices could be in your ear, according to the “wireless evangelist” Nick Hunn. Hunn is working on a new market forecast report for wearable tech, and wrote in a preview that he expects “hearables,” or smart earbuds, to be worth over $5 billion by 2018. For context, a recent forecast (pdf) predicted a total market of $30 to $50 billion for wearables by that year. Here’s why he could be right:

After the release of the futuristic romance movie Her, in which the main character falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system who speaks to him mostly through an earpiece, the production designer KK Barrett told Wired that he’d banished most screens, and basically all physical interaction with computers. “We decided we didn’t want to have physical contact,” he said. “We wanted it to be natural. Hence the elimination of software keyboards as we know them.”

The effect is a simplification of user interface with software: People would ask for what they wanted in the same way they’d ask another person, and their smart devices would deliver. Wrists could stay bare, and actual cellphones would hardly ever emerge...