In an oft-imagined future, individuals will have implanted communications chips, which allow them to communicate with friends and loved ones. The networks on which these chips operate will also be able to monitor a person’s health, maintain schedules, conduct retail and other transactions, enable social-media functions, and trigger home-control functions. Although this sounds far-fetched now, implantable communications are already being used in medical applications. Given the right capabilities, it would be possible to turn an individual into his or her own network or a node on a larger “world” network.

As we witness the death of the traditional cell phone, such an evolution has already begun. Conventional cell phones are being replaced by smartphones for their ability to check and send e-mail, share information via social media, search the web, access navigation tools, and use a host of other applications. With smartphones becoming more affordable, this trend is expected to increase. Yet wearable technologies also are evolving, potentially causing the smartphone’s dominance to wane.

With just a gesture or voice command, for example, Google Glassessentially a wearable computer—can take pictures and video, make calls, send messages, search for information, and access maps and translations. Google Glass is already being tested and implemented in various sectors by those with early access to the technology. Take, for example, INRIX’s use of it to provide traffic information to drivers. In the public-safety arena, Mutualink, Inc. recently used Google Glass to share two-way voice and video between command and control, partner agencies, and officers in the field over a FirstNet fourth-generation Long-Term-Evolution (4G LTE) connection.

Bill Wong, Technology Editor for our sister brand, Electronic Design, recently previewed Google Glass with Pepperdeck.com Founder and CEO Sahas Katta:

If the glasses idea ultimately does not take off, another option is the smartwatch. While Samsung and Apple are rumored to have smartwatches of their own on the way, the HOT (“Hands on Talk”) Smartwatch has already debuted. Its Hands on Talk feature allows users to hold private phone conversations by cupping their hands over their ears, taking advantage of audio amplification by bouncing sound off of their palms. The watch’s HOT Gestures enable users to pick up a phone call, hang up, or reject a call. The watch also serves as a sleep-pattern monitor and calorie-burning tracker while providing messaging and e-mail functions, as well as social-media application notifications. Maybe the leap from wearable to implanted communications doesn’t seem so far-fetched now.