What Is Wearable Technology and What Can We Expect from It?

Technology is ever-expanding and constantly making our lives easier – for the most part. We use it for business, travelling, and exercising, and the latest iterations of many devices can be worn.

But what is wearable technology, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll go into detail and explain everything you need to know about the pieces of tech that promise to revolutionize our lives, or at least make them more entertaining.

Wearable Technology Definition

All devices users can wear on their person fall under the wearable technology category and are sometimes called “wearables.” These devices can be embedded in clothing or even tattooed on the user’s skin.

While technically, even glasses or an ordinary watch are wearables, today, we define ‘wearables’ as devices we can wear that contain microprocessors for transferring data via the Internet. The most common wearables we use today are smartwatches, VR sets, and smart rings.

While they may seem like a fad, one of the many examples of wearable technology that aren’t mere accessories are the recently introduced AI-powered hearing aids.

How Does Wearable Technology Work?

The main principle behind it is tracking user data to provide analysis, in the form of a summary after exercising, for example. Smart wearables offer insight into how many calories were spent, how long activities lasted, or how many steps a user has made. The critical components of wearables are sensors and miniature computers.

  • Wearables equipped with sensors can monitor muscle, brain, and heart activity.
  • Wearables have the same miniature computers as smartphones, making it possible for us to interact with the devices and other users.

Indeed, all of this is made possible by the internet, which all smart wearable devices use for communication.

Use Cases of Wearable Technology

Wearables have made life easier for many, not only through faster information processing or more intense gaming experiences. Patients with chronic issues, both mental and physical, can now rely on wearables attuned to their condition for reminders and tracking. On another front, the security, fashion, and industrial applications have also improved.

Healthcare

Different types of wearable technology have made life easier for both patients and doctors. On the one hand, doctors have easier and quicker access to patient data and can keep track of their progress without in-person appointments. On the other, patients can see their own vital information laid out clearly and know when a doctor’s assistance is necessary even if they feel well.

These devices work toward saving hospital resources and completing tasks with better efficiency. One of the revolutionary wearable devices used in healthcare is Zephyr Anywhere’s BioPatch, which records vital signs, and uses encrypted wireless communications to transfer that data to the user’s physician. It’s used to diagnose early sepsis, respiratory depression, arrhythmia, and chronic diseases.

What’s more, augmented reality has also found its medical purpose: Training for medical procedures and imaging have both benefitted from it. Similarly, blood pressure and sleep monitors can always keep track of a patient’s health.

Security

Security and defence departments of various countries have been incorporating wearables for some time now, with the latest use cases recorded in law enforcement. Tech wearables are now improving public safety. Namely, police officers can wear tactical vests that keep track of their vital signs. This data is transferred in real-time so that assistance can be provided promptly.

Other than this, different radio systems, night-vision goggles, and body cameras are also considered wearables. Even here, the most common wearables are still smartwatches, often used by law enforcement officers for communication.

Industrial Applications

When it comes to industrial applications, smart glasses and gloves can make the jobs of manual labourers much easier, but that’s not the only wearable tech available to them. They can also use audio devices, embedded cameras, and head-mounted displays to increase efficiency and safety.

Industries such as energy development, mining, and construction have been particularly active in pursuing the adoption of wearables in their daily operations.

Fashion

Wearables can now be a part of your clothing and footwear. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, this combination can be helpful and efficient. For example, LED strips incorporated into jackets increase safety through visibility, while sensors keep track of vital signs.

One example of wearable technology in clothing is the Hug Shirt which allows users to “send hugs” to other people wearing the same shirt.

GPS

Location services are already a key component of everyday life, and wearables have only improved their usability. With this tech, users can find each other more easily, as it’s equipped with accelerometers, compasses, and gyroscopes to provide better accuracy.

In exceptional cases, wearables can be sewn into clothing and footwear and activated when the person wearing them is in danger.

Fitness and Sport

The list of wearable devices millions of people use daily to track their fitness activities is expanding. These devices monitor blood pressure, vitals, sleep quality, and exercise. Wearables make it easier for users to communicate with trainers and work towards developing a healthier lifestyle, as well as track their progress and set up reminders.

The Future of Wearable Technology

As wearables have become an integral part of our private and professional lives, the future of this technology is likely bright. We use these devices for different purposes, and each year brings another opportunity to improve our lives with one of them.

Experts predict these gadgets will be more accurate, less visible, personalized, and efficient. As the top wearable technology devices become smaller and more sophisticated, we will be less likely to notice them, and they might become ubiquitous in our apparel.

However, their main advantage will lie in their practicality, as wearables evolve to provide more specialized features and process data more efficiently.

Although most wearables are powered through traditional batteries, there have been efforts to change this. Tommy Hilfiger introduced clothing powered by solar cells. Moreover, AMPY integrated the long-anticipated kinetic powering system for wearables, while smart ring lights can now be fueled by body heat.

These are the advances we have now, but we’ll also mention some of the trajectories along which wearables tech is expected to progress in the not-so-distant future.

Exoskeletons

Even now, robotic suits are worn by humans who perform complex tasks. These suits help construction workers do their jobs faster and without risking injury. Exoskeletons are expected to soon become crucial equipment in many industries reliant on manual labour.

3D-Printed Human Tissue

3D printing technology has developed so far that the researchers are working toward bioprinting human tissue, with promising success cases. Hopefully, this means printing more complex organs will soon be our reality, reducing organ shortages for patients awaiting life-saving transplants.

Smarter Prosthetics

The advances in wearable technologies are also reflected in prosthetics and robotic limbs. These new prosthetics make limb movement more natural and allow tracking data. The end goal is connecting the prosthetic to the user’s nervous system, allowing for control via machine-interpreted brain signals.

Brain Computers

Telepathic typing has long been only a theoretical concept, but now, several social media companies are developing interfaces you can control with your mind. These efforts may be implemented to make life significantly easier for people with brain injuries.

Data Privacy Concerns

The amount of data collected about us on the internet is forever mounting, and wearables only contribute to that. The information these devices gather is very sensitive, often closely related to our health, and could be sold to third parties for advertisement, or more nefarious purposes. Therefore, wearables technology is definitely not risk-free.

Therefore, we need to be increasingly savvy regarding data protection, and the safety protocols guarding our data need to evolve in step with the diversity of information gathered by the technology we are becoming increasingly dependent on.

Bottom Line

As technology grows, our needs are being met with different inventions, such as various forms of wearables. These gadgets have improved many aspects of our lives, from entertainment to healthcare, and aren’t likely to stop. We can now track our fitness routines and health conditions, and improve individual security or the security of our businesses.

While we cannot predict how exactly this type of technology will evolve, it is almost certain that it will introduce more great devices that will make our lives easier. However, we must also be cautious of over-dependence and safety issues accompanying these devices, as technology often grows much faster than legislative and social concerns can be addressed.


FAQ

Is the smartphone a wearable technology?

Yes, smartphones are wearables. Wearable technology devices such as smartwatches have significantly raised the bar, but smartphones are still the most commonly used wearables today.

What are the benefits of wearable technology?

The benefits of wearable technology include more accessible healthcare, ease of use for most connected technology, and increased productivity. Moreover, this technology helps people who are not savvy with regular computers use convenient tech via voice commands.

What are the top 5 wearable technologies today?

The top 5 wearable technologies are:

  1. Smart rings
  2. Smart glasses
  3. Smart clothing
  4. Smart earphones
  5. Medical wearables

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