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Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, fan of Glass, wants more wearables

Not everybody likes Google's electronic eyewear, but the carrier chief does. Wearable tech, he says, will take off when prices come down.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse speaking at IFA 2013 in Berlin
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse speaking at IFA 2013 in Berlin. Apparently he left his Google Glass at home. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Glass has proven to be a polarizing technology development, but you can count Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse on the fan side of the spectrum.

"One of my favorite devices is Glass. I have one, though my son always steals it," Hesse said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

Of course, as leader of company that sells wireless networking services, he has a vested interest in such developments. "The way we look at it, the more devices the better," he said in a question-and-answer session with Larry Magid, who writes for CBS News and CNET.

Wearable computing devices are a hot item with Google Glass, the new Samsung Galaxy Gear and Qualcomm Toq watches unveiled at IFA, and rumors of Apple's plans for entering the market, too.

In Hesse's view, fitness applications are a big driver for wearable computing devices, and improvements in curved-glass displays will make them more feasible.

"I think wearables are a big trend going forward," Hesse said. "They'll take off more when the cost comes down." The Toq and Gear each cost $300, though Sony's SmartWatch is cheaper.

In his speech, Hesse described a sweeping array of wireless-related developments that in another era would have been seen as magic. He issued cautions about preserving privacy and maintaining customers' trust, but otherwise projected more of a sci-fi utopia.

In a video, he showed a suburban family's electronic nirvana. A health monitor gently chastised grandpa for his heavy breakfast, mom rebooked airline flights on the go, a son virtually practiced baseball pitches with a distant friend, while a daughter ordered up the music her friends were listening to and remotely unlocked the house's door when her phone identified the grocery deliveryman.

"Privacy is perhaps the most important public policy issue facing just about every country," Hesse said. The policies chosen now "will either expand or diminish the capabilities or the magic."

His comment came just as new revelations came to light about the extent of the U.S. National Security Agency's ability to break encryption as part of its surveillance activities.

Having lots of network devices means using lots of network data. Sprint is trying to catch its larger competitors, Verizon and AT&T, by promoting unlimited-data plans and promising existing customers that they'll always have them -- though not necessarily without price increases.

"People are used to surfing freely on their landlines," Hesse said. "What's different about wireless?"