Wearables are the next big thing and Plantronics, maker of enterprise-grade Bluetooth headsets and other gear, wants to play a key role. The company has a dedicated developer program with PLT Labs, and is participating in hackathons around the country to raise awareness about its potential.
The center of PLT Labs' strategy is the Wearable Concept 1. This wearable is no fitness band. Instead, it is a headset that includes a nine-axis sensor that can track head orientation in three dimensions, tap detections, free-fall detection, and other input. Plantronics has a host of APIs to accompany the Wearable Concept 1, which let developers create applications based on the data created by the sensor. The company sees plenty of open road ahead for itself and those willing to take advantage of its developer program and APIs.
"Wearable tech gives today’s software developers an unprecedented opportunity to create applications leveraging information that until now has been out of reach,” says Cary Bran, head of PLT Labs and senior director of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics. Bran will speak at Wearables DevCon, an inaugural event devoted to developing for wearables, covering the central issues of wireless connectivity for wearables and offering guidance on how developers can target the right devices and platforms.
"Understanding this opportunity and the associated technology challenges will be critical for developers and businesses alike, as together they strive to create applications that will enrich not only individual experiences but also the much larger and growing wearable tech ecosystem as a whole," said Bran.
Hackers have already done some interesting things with PLT Labs' Wearable Concept 1 at various hackathons this year. For example, a company called Leverage created a virtual personal trainer using the accelerometers to detect what workout a user is performing. Another company, Hackcouture.io, built a gesture-detecting glove and accompanying air guitar game called Metalhead, using the nine-axis sensors to detect "headbanging" movement and incorporate it into the game experience. Yes, these guys really figured out how to mix headbanging and developing.
Many of the most prominent wearables introduced by hardware makers in recent months take the form of smartwatches or fitness bands. Plantronics has long targeted business customers with its high-grade Bluetooth products. The Wearable Concept 1 is a perfect example of why developers need to pay attention to products other than those that wrap around the wrist.