The Future of Wearables: IBM Watson & The Voice-First Future

future of wearables, IBM Watson, voice-first future

Episode 6 in The Future of Wearables podcast features Anthony Stevens, Solutions Architect for the IBM Watson Ecosystem. An early pioneer in mobile, Stevens was a top 20 winner of Google’s first Android Developer Challenge. He’s currently working on Watson-based projects to design and implement analytics and big data solutions using IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system. (In 2011, Watson competed on Jeopardy! and won $1M by beating 2 former winners.)


Anthony Stevens envisions artificial intelligence connecting with wearables and other mobile devices. He discusses the problems with Google Glass, the benefits of the Apple Watch, and how “within 10 years we’ll have the voice-first future.”


There are two major issues holding back active voice technology being used by small wearables. The Sourcebits team poured over this scenario when designing LifeWatch, our Apple Watch concept app. Two-way communication between the wearable and the user is essential.

David Forgash, Senior Creative Director at Sourcebits, had this to say about what will make the voice-first future a reality:

1. Battery Life
It takes quite a bit of power for a wearable to be constantly in ‘listening’ mode for when the user decides to communicate with the device. Extended battery power will be important as wearables evolve. For apps, one way around this is to have the user actively put the device in ‘listening’ mode with a tap, button, or other interaction.

2. Connectivity
When you currently use speech to text, it is converted in the cloud – which means the wearable needs to have its own access or be tethered to a secondary device via bluetooth or wifi. This impacts battery life and the experience is impacted by the user’s connection type and speed (3G / 4G / LTE / WiFi).

“With better battery capacity and connection speeds, wearables will bloom. I can foresee a device as small as a hearing aid that is able to give and take voice commands. This could offer seamless usage. Imagine being able to talk softly and have information recorded and relayed back to you – be it text messages, instructions for transit, or a recipe while your hands are full.”


We love working with clients that seek our mobile design and app development services – and they’ve asked us to create awesome apps for the wearable tech market. A great example of a recent project: Vuzix and their enterprise smart glasses.

If you’re thinking about entering the wearable tech market or have an existing app that you’d like to reimagine for the Apple Watch, smart glasses or other devices – you’ve come to the right place.


Sourcebits is sponsoring The Future of Wearables podcast – sign up to get a weekly email with the latest episode. Each week, host Heather Schlegel interviews mobile industry thought leaders and wearable makers.

Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.