Wearable tech – the future of fashion?
The designs often incorporate practical functions and features, but may also have a critical agenda and can include smart watches, reality glasses or health monitors in the form of a bracelet.
How did it come about?
Wearable technology has emerged from the development of ‘ubiquitous computing.’ Also described as ‘Pervasive Computing’, it follows the notion that technical devices can be seamlessly woven into our everyday lives and worn or carried and used at any time, in every location, using multiple formats. One early example was the calculator watch, first introduced in the 1980s as one of the original pieces of widespread worn electronics, which has recently seen a return to popularity.
Over the last few years, trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) have been driven by consumers and adopted in the workplace and are forecasted to continue to rise. As wearable tech starts to be increasingly used and enjoyed in our personal lives, some innovative businesses are already working out how these devices can be harnessed by corporations. Richard Smith, Managing Director of Tegen Ltd (a leading IT managed services and IT support provider) who uses BYOD says “It is slowly becoming the norm to have personal smartphones, laptops, PDAs and mobile devices at work. Some even install the company’s email onto their own personal phone. BYOD has become widely adopted as the growth in IT continues to rise”.
In 2013, Google marked the official launch of Google Glass, a device that brings rich text and notifications as well as other information straight to your eyes. Google states that the device also has a, “5 MP camera and records 720p.” Its various functions are activated via voice command. Tim Moore, a member of the Rochester Optical Glass Team said that, “Style and fashion was one of the primary deliverables for R&D as we were designing the GPLC’s; they had to look fashionable and offer a variety of frame styles and colours to fit the personality of the wearer.”
How can wearable tech benefit me?
As far as wearable gadgets go, some of the most used technologies aim to make users healthier in their day-to-day lives.
One of today’s top health-oriented wearable gadgets is the FitBit Flex. The bracelet comes with many monitoring features to help you create personal goals and improve your fitness, according to FitBit. It is able to track your steps, calories, or the distance you travel during a day, by keeping tabs on your physical activity.
2. Health Benefits
While eating right and keeping fit are important factors in staying healthy, there are other wearable technologies that are designed to look even more closely at possible health issues or symptoms. Many people are starting to wear heart monitors and GPS location devices that alert caregivers when something is wrong. This device allows patients to maintain independence and minimise health risks.
3. Keeping safe
With people constantly looking at their devices on-the-go, and with the average person checking their phone 110 times a day when walking and driving according to Mail Online, it’s safe to say that the danger risks of staying connected on the move are increased.
Bluetooth headsets mean you can talk on the phone hands-free while still focusing on the tasks in front of you. What’s more, cutting edge technology such as Google Glass allows you to stay connected to your phone, email, and applications without ever taking your eyes off the road or pavement. By using voice commands instead of your hands, you can focus on the road or sidewalk while still consuming digital information.
Are there any downsides?
Wearable computers are the most sophisticated technologies that are available today. The level of complexity required to bring such high tech devices to production is costly and too expensive for many of us to afford.
There are a number of security risks associated with wearble computers, namely that wearers make themselves a prime target for hacking. A wealth of vital data can potentially be gleaned from devices: location; what information the device is asking for; who's using it; why they might be using it. And Google Glasses share the same occupational hazard as normal glasses, it’s easy to take them off and forget where you left them!
Wearable tech and businesses
Wearable technology will bring advantages and opportunities for businesses, such as the ones outlined above. And, with the massive growth in logistics and other similar industries, it’s not hard to see how something like Google Glass could be useful in a warehouse or factory environment.
It’s still early days, but according to The Guardian the potential is massive. If you’re interested in learning more about wearable technology then why not head to the Olympia Conference Centre in London next March for the “Wearable Technology Show”. The Wearable Technology Show 2014 will be the first and largest show of its kind in the UK to bring together wearable innovators, thought leaders, developers and wearable industry decision makers. Here, you can gain an insight from wearable entrepreneurs on the latest trends that will shape the market.
What does the future hold for wearable tech?
The next exciting new wave of wearable devices expected to hit the market are smart watches http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/best-smart-watches-what-s-the-best-wearable-tech-for-you--1154074. Forecasts reveal that 1.2 million smart watches were shipped in 2013 as a consequence of the high penetration of smartphones all over the world. Likely to deliver all of the above benefits and more, for those of us who would rather not have high tech devices right next to our head, smart watches might well be the most beneficial technical addition to your future wardrobe.