The Future of Wearable Tech
By Tracey Dowdy
Mankind’s obsession with technology predates technology itself. Early Chinese merchants tired of counting on fingers and toes and the abacus was born; Greek mathematician and engineer Heron Alexandrinus invented a rudimentary steam engine way back in the first century and DaVinci’s visions of man flying became the foundation of modern aerodynamics.
It’s incredible when we fast forward and realize that very soon the self-driving cars in Total Recall and Bones’ tricorder on Star Trek are about to move off the screen and into our lives. What’s even more amazing is the wearable technology that’s being developed that will soon be as much a part of our daily life as our smartphones.
Developers are working on three primary categories of wearables: complex accessories, smart accessories and smart wearables. According to experts, activity trackers and health monitoring devices are the most popular right now and this trend will likely continue for the foreseeable future, as these are the most affordable and most closely tie in with our lives and lifestyle choices. Consumers can expect them to become more stylish as the trend to incorporate technology with fashion flourishes.
What else can we expect?
Greener – Developers are constantly looking for ways to make our lifestyle greener and more eco-friendly, so it’s no surprise that initiative is moving into the tech we wear. At this years’ Consumer Electronics show, fitness and lifestyle company Misfit introduced the Swarovski Shine, a fitness and activity tracker that runs on solar power. Back in December, Tommy Hilfiger launched a line of clothing with solar cells to power your devices, and Sean Hodgins has created the Peltier Ring that uses body heat to power tiny LED lights.
Collaborative – Your Apple Watch is synced with your iPhone6 and both are collecting data on your activity levels. Your Fitbit syncs with your Galaxy 6 to track calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken and more. Technologists are researching ways to pull information from different sensors on your body, drawing data to provide a picture of how your body is performing.
Standardized – Wearable tech is a relatively new field but with the demand for accuracy we can expect industry standards to regulate manufacturer claims and ensure devices deliver what’s promised. The more dependent on the data we become, the higher the expectation and the need for precision.
Personalization – We all know Google and Facebook use complex algorithms to track our interests and provide content related to past searches and “Likes,” and we can expect that level of targeted advertising to move into our wearble tech as well. With dwindling numbers for TV and print media, savvy marketers are constantly on the lookout for the next big trend and wearable tech is definitely part of the next wave.
Multi-Function – Developers understand that although there will always be early adopters, a new device has to meet a need and have long term value. The more functionality – think how your cell phone is now a camera, map, calculator etc. – the more likely consumers are to become loyal to both the brand and the product.
Ultimately we can look forward to devices seamlessly assimilating into our lives. They’ll communicate with each other, control our environment and record what’s happening in the world around us. In the words of Tom Emmerich, founder of We Are Wearables, “The end game for wearables is to integrate our technology with our lives in a way that creates a more balanced relationship. This would move tech into the background so that it enhances rather than distracts us from life.”
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.