This New York Times articles talks about the growing importance of design over technology. It mentions (in the caption of a photo) Nike as having emerged as 'an unlikely leader in wearable computing.'

Unlikely? Maybe. Unless you consider what 'wearable computing' really means. I don't have any particular desire to 'wear' a laptop, or a smartphone, or even a tablet. (I've never even owned one of those 'holsters' that seemed for a while to be a popular alternative to putting a mobile phone in your pocket.)

Then again, I've never been a runner. If I had, then I probably would have liked the idea of an iPod Nano strapped to my arm. I've not worn a watch for a few years now, but if I did I think I would probably like the idea of a wrist-mounted screen that tells me the sort of things that my phone screen tells me when I pull it out of my pocket (ie. not just the time and date, but whether I have any unread text messages, emails, or updates on Facebook or Twitter that fit a set of criteria that I've set to be worth letting me know about.)

But although the article focuses on the importance of design, it doesn't come out and define what 'design' means. To many, design is about making things look pretty – nice colours, or lines, or shapes, or patterns. That is, visual design, about how something looks. "Real" design is about understanding a problem, and coming up with a solution.

What Nike have done is look at the problems that their customers faced (ie. tracking their fitness) and figured out how adding 'computing' to their products could help. I suspect that the next leaders in 'wearable computing' are going to come from a similar direction – not from Google thinking about putting 'screens' into different pieces of glass, but from someone thinking about things like how adding 'computing' could improve their products.

The problems that 'wearable computing' will solve are most probably going to be problems that something wearable but non-computery is already solving. To me, the most likely example of that is a watch (that tells you information that you want to know at a very convenient glance) that has the potential to do more (talk to your phone.)

The people best placed to do that are the people already providing the solution. So when I do buy a new watch, I'm going to look to watchmakers to see what they are doing. Not Apple, or Google, or Microsoft.

My guess is that the place to watch out for the next 'wearable computing' leaders is going to be the world of sports; whether thats commercially available gadgets for tracking your own speed/power/weight/heart rate etc., GPS devices that tell you exactly how far your next drive is from the 18th hole (or where your ball has landed), or something to compare your run with the previous days speed. I would guess that we will see the technology appearing in the sports fields before moving to the high street.