Google Inc is releasing tools for software developers to make applications for wearable-computing devices, trying to repeat the success it has had with the Android mobile-operating system for gadgets people wear on their bodies.
Google’s senior vice president Sundar Pichai, speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, said the tools are to be made available in the coming weeks and that the so-called software developer kit will be for more than just wristwatch-like devices.
Google wants to give developers a way to make any number of applications — even a jacket with sensors — said Pichai, who runs Google’s Android and Chrome businesses.
Google is moving into new devices as it looks for ways to get users on its services and boost advertising dollars.
The Mountain View, California-based company has been offering early versions of a computerized eyewear called Glass.
Google and Apple Inc have both already fueled an ecosystem of applications for smartphones and tablets.
Google is unveiling the new software tools so developers can also make everything from games to social networking apps for wearable devices.
The market for wearable computers is projected to reach US$20 billion in sales by 2016, according to IHS.
Pichai also said Google has sold more than a million Chromecast devices that lets users stream video from a mobile device to a television.
The device will soon be released internationally, he said.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, is eager to find more apps designed for its own wearable devices and will soon release associated software development kits (SDKs), Nicholas Foo, head of developer relations at Samsung Asia, said on Thursday.
One key reason is that worldwide shipments of wearable devices are forecast to grow more than 10 times, from 29 million units in 2012 to 300 million units by 2016, Foo said at the Samsung Developer Day in Taipei.
Samsung, which has a 32 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market and 26 percent of the global smart TV market, has integrated its new Gear smartwatch with BMW’s new i3 electric car and new bicycles made by Trek Bikes, he said.
The other promising segment is mobile healthcare, Foo added, predicting that this market will have grown from US$700 million in 2012 to US$8 billion by 2018.
He said that only 97,000 healthcare Android apps are available currently, lagging behind an estimated 250 million users of mobile healthcare services.
Samsung now offers nine SDKs — Enterprise, Mobile, Gear, Gear Fit, S Health, Group Play, Smart TV, Multi-screen Game and Multi-screen — for worldwide developers.
Developers usually can share 70 percent of their app revenues from Samsung’s own app store, where Samsung will also promote their developers’ apps.