Much of the IT world is abuzz this week due to Google’s announcement of its Android Wear operating system (OS) and SDK for wearable computing and communications devices. Motorola and LG announced smartwatches built to use Android Wear, and the mainstream media and tech media alike are focusing on the “smartwatch” aspect, comparing what could be coming to products already in the market and to Apple’s yet-to-be announced smartwatch offering.

Not all details regarding Android Wear have been released as of this writing. What we do know is that Google is aiming first at the fitness niche, promoting the availability of “real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle, or walk.” Google Maps will be included, as will the Google Now card-based reminder/information application. And Google indicates that Wear will also enable multi-device functionality – e.g., users can voice a command to the watch to activate certain apps on other devices enabled by the OS, which could include thermostats in the home, entertainment systems in an automobile, and more.

This is why Saugatuck sees the Android Wear announcement as much more than a smartwatch OS and SDK proclamation. In fact, we see the smartwatch aspect as a bit of a red herring, distracting attention from where it should be.Android Wear is Google’s acknowledgement of the steadily-emerging reality of the internet-of-things, with individuals (not just consumers) always connected as both a source of data and as the actuator/controller and beneficiary.

Android Wear is therefore not (just) about smartwatches, it’s about enabling a personalized IT network environment that includes portable and sensor-driven devices. This has huge implications for enterprise IT, Big Data and advanced analytics, and how/what we consider Mobile IT.

Why is it Happening?

This is a blending of mobile computing, advanced networking, sensor-enabled business and data, and user environments. It is a very logical step in the evolution of computing and communications that are driven, and increasingly dependent upon, individual users and their environments.

Wearable IT, mobile telephony, voice and gesture control, and other pieces of this puzzle have been with us for decades. And the sensor-enabled user environment is already here – we’re just becoming more and more aware of it, let alone figuring out how to coordinate it and utilize it to the advantage of the average business or consumer.

Smartphones using advanced digital networks helped catalyze this significantly. But even “dumbphones” have been used as activity and location sensors for decades, benefiting carriers and law enforcement to a degree. Networked mobile sensors in cars signal and track maintenance needs, repair activity, performance changes, music preferences, driving preferences, and more. Android Wear brings the abilities of the car-based mobile OS to the human experience environment, and enables the development and sharing of practically limitless data about that activity – whether business or personal.

That brings us to the business reason behind Google’s effort to deliver Android Wear – or, “One OS To Rule Them All.” The devices utilizing Wear will be developing, gathering, and reporting a collectively massive amount of streaming data that can be used in a wide range of business endeavors, including but also well beyond Google’s established advertising-driven model.

Health data, location data, environmental data, purchase data, interaction data, all are vast goldmines for providers of goods and services, for better and for worse. The Android Wear OS enables a still-emergent range of millions, even billions, of devices to bring all of this together so that individuals and organizations can consolidate and coordinate environment, activity and information – and of course, so that providers of goods and services can more accurately target opportunities to improve their selling, their relevance, and their ability to deliver value.

Examples: Healthcare providers can more easily tailor treatment to patients by gathering, tracking, and analyzing data gathered from Wear-powered fitness devices, health monitors, and other devices. Predictive analytics and real-time monitoring may be used to notify patients and caregivers of impending problems. Interestingly, Saugatuck participated in a fascinating briefing earlier this month with Cognizant Technology Partners around their emerging BYOhD (Bring Your Own health Device) platform initiative, that very much supports these trends. Financial services providers can tailor and deliver client information feeds independent of time and location; imagine using Google Now to alert a client to a change in account status.

Click here to read the Market Impact.

This blog was originally published at Saugatuck's Lens360 blog on March 20, 2014. Published with permission.

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