You may already have them. These appear to be tiny devices that you can take anywhere with you to be your mini-assistants. With the help of your phone, these gadgets can take and receive calls and messages for you, and provide alerts based on your social media activity.
You may not notice it, but you’re already using wearable technology.
Technology is starting to become smaller and integrated, which makes it almost a “necessity” for living. The next step, then, is to make sure you always have access to today’s available technology. Being in the age where technology is virtually around us, you have to be able to carry it as well.
This, in hindsight, is what wearable technology is all about—also called wearable tech or just simply, wearables.
- This is best noticeable with fitness enthusiasts and professionals who wear smartwatches that help them keep track of certain day-to-day activities.
- Other non-watch wearables exist, however, including special glasses, medical patches, and even clothing.
What is wearable technology?
However, before we begin to overwhelm ourselves with quite the huge amount of examples of wearables, we have to take a step back and assess what wearable technology is.
Wearable technology includes bracelets and watches and can be seen pretty much everywhere. It can be integrated into your clothing, shoes, and even hats. If a wearable piece of clothing is “smart” and provides a means for you to access technology, then it can qualify as wearable tech.
Some basic criteria are:
- Wearable devices should have sensors that can “connect” to your other electronics.
- Wearable devices can connect to the Internet or to your smart device via Bluetooth. This allows you to control just how the device works to help you in your daily life.
- Examples include fitness trackers, head-mounted displays, implants, smart clothing, and even smart jewelry.
Watches and Wearable Tech
Smartwatches are watches that do more than just tell time.
These are devices that are miniature windows to your digital lifestyle. They’re capable of receiving and sending messages, calls, and notifications that would otherwise be obtrusive when done with phones and gadgets.
Wearable tech watches include brands such as LG, Apple, Motorola, Sony, and Samsung. All of the said companies are slowly getting to the smartwatch game with their wide plethora of products.
If you’re confused as to what constitutes a smartwatch, here are the criteria that classifies a watch as wearable tech:
- The watch can integrate and incorporate technology into your daily routine. This can be in the form of notifications, tracking, and monitoring of various aspects of life that we would otherwise need more sophisticated technology for.
- The watch can connect to the Internet and/or other devices in order to analyze and interpret data to make meaningful suggestions.
Wearable Tech Trends Today
Just because we say wearable technology exists, it may surprise some that they don’t look like contraptions straight out of science fiction. Although it’s true that current wearable technology appears crude and simple at best, companies are starting to expand the concept. If it’s wearable, it can be wearable tech. Here are some current applications of wearable tech:
Fashion and Style
Who says wearable tech has to look plain and simple?
Wearables have always catered to tech users and fitness enthusiasts, but companies are now starting to create more stylish technology. A Medium and Digital Trends article explains how certain companies like Samsung are starting to make wearables that you can carry to a black-tie meeting.
Interestingly, wearables are slowly expanding to fashion as well where you wouldn’t have to look like a cyborg just for wearing one. These clothes appear and feel like your ordinary pieces of clothing, but they have sensors designed to let you monitor your health.
Talk about pairing health with style!
Sleeker and Smarter
A good number of people have rejected wearables before since it has been commonly seen as a bit impractical.
After all, if they’re connected to your phones, why not just use your phone? However, applications for wearables today are becoming smarter.
- If you think assistants like Siri and Cortana are for your bigger devices, think again. New apps such as AddApp are capable of seamlessly integrating data from various devices and social media analytics.
- AddApp is capable of analyzing your data and interpreting preferences based on your habits while logged on with the app. This allows AddApp to give suggestions based on your personal preference.
More Sensors, More Health
Wearables contribute a great deal in the health industry, evolving much farther from the simple monitoring duties it did before. Various skin patches and comfortable devices with more sensors are being developed to monitor various aspects of your body.
- Some sensors aren’t just wearable, they’re ingestible. Various small devices are being integrated with medicine that can allow experts to monitor your health from the inside.
Fans of Pokemon Go will be delighted to hear that wearable technology is also slowly being integrated with augmented reality. This allows us to access information such as pictures, information, and other data with the help of viewing devices that augment what we see.
- This is already being used by the Air Force, but it’s slowly becoming a more consumer-friendly trend. Examples of these are notable products such as Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLense.
- Companies are in fact already set up to help other startups and businesses expand their business plans to accommodate augmented reality. There are a wide variety of those services, which include ZapWorks.
Conclusion: Wearable Tech In The Future?
It’s definitely true that while we are about to enter a new age of wearable technology, making it accessible to the public is still ages away.
Regardless, the pursuit of major technology companies into making various smart devices is a good first step to a wearable future.
Here are some possible trends for wearable technology in the next few decades:
- Cheaper and More Durable: Scientists are beginning to build materials that are stronger and more durable than steel, but can potentially become extremely cheap. An example of these is Teijin’s ECOPET paper, which Geek reports is made from a polyethylene terephthalate-based paper that’s just as thick as paper, but is waterproof and tearproof.
- 3D Printing: 3D printing started out slow, but it’s slowly showing itself to be a cheaper alternative to create products. Sebastian Pattinson, a postdoctoral student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has designed a unique method that allows cellulose—perhaps the most abundant organic polymer—to be used as a material for 3D printing. If his paper is fully adapted into a concept, the way for extremely cheaper wearable technology would be much closer.
- Less Electronics, More Tech: Humanity may actually come to a time when we will experience something called “ubiquitous computing,” where computers and devices will be extremely cheap to the point that we don’t even notice that we’re already interacting with electronics.Ubiquitous Computing envisions a future where technology is everywhere to the point that it’s practically invisible. It may be a hard concept to grasp for now, but the Ubiq website seems to be optimistic about this ambitious prediction.
These are just some of the many ways that the future may allow humanity to be more comfortable with wearable technology. This definitely isn’t far off from making our world similar to those we see in science fiction films.
However, despite what appears to be a slow start, wearable technology has one goal: make the technology we need accessible enough to be worn. And based on the trends we’re having now, that future is no doubt nearer than ever.