Wearable Technology and Its Impact On Our Future
You may have a smart phone now. But can you imagine yourself owning a pair of smart pants or smart socks? It may sound silly, but wearable technology is not only well into production, it’s available now.
Of course, wearable technology is nothing new; think of your watch or the hearing aid your cousin wears. But these days, this kind of technology is being enhanced to make wearing it more convenient and useful than ever.
What’s So Great About Wearable Technology?
The answer to that question depends on the type of wearable technology that’s being discussed.
One example of wearable tech which has a number of benefits is a user manual whose pages can be turned with one’s eyes, as long as special glasses are being worn. The benefits of this particular piece of wearable tech? A mechanic, IT person or other repair professional, instead of having to break their concentration to look through a manual, can slash the time needed to complete repairs.
Wearable tech is also hard at work in the inner ear with the natural battery, a device that is essentially made of biological material and when implanted, could possibly power any future devices placed into the ear, such as hearing aids. As well, this technology has the potential to become a way for physicians to monitor medical conditions and response to therapy.
And those smart pants? In the future, textile tech could help you with everything from deciding what to wear, to telling you how far you jogged or walked in a particular day. Of course, because the wires must be woven in with the fabric of the garments, there is still a ways to go with making this kind of wearable tech look and feel like the clothing we normally wear.
In the world of first responders, MIT has created a way to allow those who are first in a dangerous area to map it and establish communication links where triage or recovery is needed. Worn by a responder, the ‘sensor pack’ delivers information about the area being visited in real time. The pack uses multiple sensors to do the job, including a rangefinder, gyroscopes and accelerometers. The information is then sent to a designated laptop via a wireless connection.
The Barriers Of Wearable Tech
Interestingly, one of the largest barriers to the mainstream adoption of wearable tech is the lack of consumer demand. This low demand may simply be due to the fact that the newest types of wearable tech and their potential are simply not fully understood as yet.
As well, wearable technology can be cost-prohibitive; one example is a Bluetooth headset which can be worn as a necklace, priced at almost $400. This cost may not be feasible for many who are dealing with the effects of the economic downturn.
Ironically, many sources report that the wearable technology market will only continue to grow, with some projected numbers topping six billion dollars in just the next four years.
On the other side of the coin, while there are many benefits to wearable tech, the question remains about just how friendly their construction is to the environment and to the health of those who wear it. Currently, there is no transparency with regard to the production process of wearable technology, something that many experts say is necessary for consumers to make an informed choice about integrating it into their lives.
But with all of the interesting – and sometimes ridiculous – concepts and real wearable tech that now exists, with it exists great opportunity for we as a race to gain a greater understanding of not only how our own bodies work, but how our environment functions.