The internet of things (IoT) is the networking of the physical world and nothing epitomises this more than wearable technology. Everyone has become used to objects such as the Fitbit activity tracker and the Apple Watch but many people don’t appreciate the limitless potential of how wearable technology could affect their lives in the future.
The following are just a few examples of how wearable technology can and will change our lives.
Helping us become more productive
Personal assistant (PA) wearable devices are aimed at making us more productive by taking away mundane time-burning tasks. For example, doing something as simple as posting a tweet can take a minute if you take into account finding your phone, unlocking the phone, launching the Twitter app, posting the tweet, locking the phone and putting it back in your pocket. With a PA wearable device, such as MYLE, clipped to your top and operated using your voice, you can post the tweet in a few seconds. These small amounts of time saved over the course of the day and across many mundane activities such as emailing or calling someone can result in an hour or more being freed up.
Keeping us healthy
The healthcare industry is investing heavily in wearable technologies and the potential benefits to patients and clinicians are enormous. Health monitoring wearables such as HealthPatch MD and Vitaliti allow continuous tracking of vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure and storage of this data for review by both the wearer and healthcare professionals. Bracelet devices such as SunFriend and June monitor our exposure to the sun. We are all aware of the dangers of over exposure to UV but research also suggests that there are a wide range of benefits to us that come from being exposed to the sun. These wearable devices can keep us informed of exactly how much sun is good for us and when we are approaching too much.
Devices have already been launched that are focused on ensuring personal safety. For example, Artemis provides smart jewellery so that when you feel threatened, you simply tap the bracelet or necklace and it immediately starts audio recording what is happening and calls your emergency contact numbers. Other companies are producing products such as hair clips that actually monitor you for physical signs of assault and then automatically trigger calls for help to your contacts or the emergency services.
Enabling us to be greener
Many companies are investing in wearable technology that can not only power itself but also potentially generate power to charge other devices. Voltaic Systems has already developed products that include backpacks fitted with solar panels. Although products such as these are currently cumbersome and unsightly, as solar and wearable technology develops we will find ourselves being able to generate enough energy from our t-shirt to power all our personal devices. Indeed, wireless energy and inductive charging may mean that our wearables will help us to power other devices at home and work.
Making us superhuman
Improving the human body is where wearable tech really shines. If you watched the 2014 World Cup opening ceremony, a paraplegic man named Juliano Pinto kicked the first ball of the tournament wearing a mind-controlled exoskeleton and it’s developments like this that could truly change our lives. Devices that can improve our hearing and help us focus on only what we want to hear are already being produced as well as devices to help us keep our hands steady, lift heavier weights through perfect form, or even simply help us draw a perfect circle.
Peter Luck is the technical director at ROCC.