Goodbye Apple iPhone? Wearable Tech Is Coming
Your smartphone may be on its way out as tech companies aim to put the power of a smartphone into wearable accessories.
Three of the biggest tech companies are gearing up for a head-to-head battle that will dictate how we wear — yes, wear — future technology.
Apple, Google and Samsung are all entering the wearable technology space. The companies are reportedly working on a smartwatch. Plus, Google is already pushing to bring its Internet-connected glasses, called Google Glass, to market. (Read More: Apple Smartwatch Out of 'Experimentation Phase': Report )
"This is just the start of where wearable technology is going," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for Gartner. "Eventually, smart fabrics, which will be the clothes you wear, will also come to market. But that's years away."
(Read More: Google Eyewear to Be 'Made in USA')
Wearable technology is poised to explode during the next few years, with 485 million wearable devices projected to ship by 2018, according to ABI Research.
Google augmented reality glasses, which are controlled through voice commands, are expected to become available to the mass market as soon as later this year, or during the beginning of 2014, analysts say.
While Apple and Google have not officially said they're working on a smartwatch, Samsung recently revealed that it has been working on a watch for awhile.
(Read More: Google Is Working on a Smart Watch, Too)
"We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them," Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, said earlier this month, according to a Bloomberg report.
The executive did not, however, reveal any details about what kind of features the watch would have, or when it would go on sale. But ABI Research analyst Josh Flood said he could see Samsung launch a watch before the end of this year.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they can do something relatively quickly," Flood said. "They could easily bring something to market in a short period of time."
It's unclear, however, if Samsung would rely on Google's Android operating system, he said.
Apple Product Watch
An Apple smartwatch — dubbed the iWatch — could also be revealed sooner than some consumers anticipate. "For Apple, it might make sense to unveil a watch between now and October. A summer release might make sense," Milanesi said.
(Read More: Apple Smartwatch Out of 'Experimentation Phase': Report )
An iWatch would likely include some of the same functions as a smartphone, as well as additional features — such as near field communication technology, which would enable payments, Milanesi said. She said the device will have a touchscreen, but it will likely be more voice activated.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently said in note to clients that Apple is likely to make a product announcement in June. However, this is likely to be the next generation iPhone. More innovative products — possibly an iWatch —won't be unveiled until the end of the year, he said.
While smartwatches may make an appearance in a big way this year, it will likely be three to four years before the watches completely replace smartphoneS, said Flood of ABI Research. In the interim, the watches will function mostly as an accessory to a user's smartphone, he said.