Google is officially getting into wearable technology, with the launch of its Android Wear software designed for voice-activated smartwatches.
Demonstrated in a video published by Google, Android Wear is controlled by touch and voice, with the ‘ok, Google’ voice command familiar to users of Google’s search and Glass products. The video shows Android Wear running on a prototype smartwatch and with a user interface similar visually to Google’s Now service.
Android Wear can track exercise - telling the user how many calories they have burned - as well as look up sports results, local news and even flight information.
Incoming notifications such as incoming text messages are shown on the Android Wear interface and can be replied to by voice commands. The video shows a user replying to a message by dictating it to his smartwatch while on the bus.
Local news updates can be sent to Android Wear devices, and in the video a user is alerted to a local shark sighting, prompting her to surf elsewhere. Further local-aware features include the ability to tell the wearer how long their drive to work will be - just as Google Now does currently on smartphones and tablets.
One part of the Google video even shows a user opening her garage door by giving a spoken command to her smartwatch.
Starting today, Google developers can download a Developer Preview of Android Wear to tinker with and ensure their existing applications can communicate with future Wear-powered smartwatches.
Google says it is already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring watches powered by Android Wear later this year.
Soon after Google announced Android Wear, both LG and Motorola showed off their first smartwatches running the new operating system. Motorola's watch, below, is called the Moto 360, while LG's is called the G Watch. Prices are not yet known for any Android Wear devices, but they are expected to go on sale this summer. Expect to see much more at Google's I/O developer conference in June.