Walking with WiFi.

Wearable technology is allowing us to interweave technology even further into everyday life. In fact, wearable technology is set to transform our lives: from healthcare to gaming and augmented reality. Will we all soon be wearing technology devices? Probably. So it is no wonder that there could be one public WiFi hotspot for every 20 people on Earth by 2018. Without WiFi, wearable technology would not exist.

What is wearable tech?

Wearable technology is absolutely as it sounds: any electronic technology or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories. Most of us own a smartphone and many have heard of fitness trackers and even smart watches. You guessed it, there is even more out there to explore. Wearable smart rings in the near future perhaps?

The cleverest of these wearable devices can perform most tasks that we might expect from a computer or laptop that is on our desk waiting for us when we arrive at work. Actually, in many cases, wearable tech is even more highly developed and sophisticated. This is because it can be used to scan, track and provide sensory feedback on ourselves, for example biofeedback or physiological functions.

Usually wearable tech communicates in real time

This means that we can get our information instantly from our smart wearable watches, glasses or hearing aid devices. The whole idea of wearable technology is that we can get hands free, we’re online all the time and we can experience seamless and portable access to the data we need exactly when we need it. As you know, we are completely getting used to having data presented to us instantaneously.

Examples of wearable tech:

Health tracking devices

These remove any form of ‘denial’ when trying to get fit and healthy – think New Year’s Resolutions! Health trackers are actually classed by some as a type of smart watch as they are worn on the wrist. They basically allow your body to talk to you as you attempt to improve your BMI. Health trackers provide feedback on things such as heart rate, body fat and weight (eeeeek) and even your skin’s electric conductivity. The Simband, for example, is equipped with six sensors. The six sensors it comes with can keep tabs on your daily steps, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and how much sweat your sweat glands are producing.

Listening to your whole body can be important for the maintenance of good health. For example measuring your GSR (galvanic skin response – or sweat to you and I) can provide an indication of how stressed you are. It could be a great measure of the situations causing the highest stress response, to warn people who are suffering from stress related illnesses, and highlight which situations are best to avoid. This can be difficult, of course, if stress relates to work or the school run. However, it might also indicate which behaviours lead to the least stress response and maybe where to go, or what to do to reduce the effects of any stressful experiences. All the information can be wirelessly synced to statistics with online graphs and keep you on track of all your personal health and fitness goals.

Smart watches

If total feedback on your body’s health doesn’t sound like quite enough info, then perhaps it’s time look into a smart watch. Some of the smart watches will enable you to download all the health and fitness trackers onto apps as well as being a small portable computer. This technology effectively lets you get the measure of your whole life.

A smartwatch originally performed what now seem simpler tasks such as calculations, translations, and games. A traditional smart watch still acts as a timekeeping device but also includes the features we expect from our devices today: calls, texts emails and even web-browsing. The earlier smart watches require a paired smartphone, connected wirelessly through Bluetooth to work.

Standalone smart watches now operate on their own, without the need for a paired smartphone, often taking SIM cards just like a cell phone. They include all the same functionality of a full-featured smartphone, just in a wearable form where data can be accessed through WiFi. So, nowadays smart watches are like mini wearable computers which run mobile apps, are media players and some can be used as a mobile phone to take calls.

Google Glass

Is a hands free, optical head mounted display and communication with the internet is through voice command. The use of Google Glass has been demonstrated in healthcare and shows how technology can vastly improve patient care. It has been used already to demonstrate surgery as it is happening and educating medical students who can watch the procedures remotely.

Google Glass is great for all types of education. Teachers are being encouraged to create ‘first person’ video guides. Indeed, students themselves could record their interactions with each other, whilst working collaboratively on a piece of work or whilst out in the field. School trips for students can be highly educational but many students won’t be able to afford to go on all the trips offered by their institution. Students could enjoy watching remotely what is going on in real time. This article in the Huffington Posttells us more about uses in education such as wearing it while training for sports. Students can use real time instruction and players could record and understand their own movements better, use it to take notes in lectures or even to ask questions to the lecturer via text.

Even simply watching sports on TV could be improved. With an app to alert fans when a game is getting exciting such as last minute changes to scores, games going into extra time or grand slam tennis finals going into a fifth set, glass wearers could be pinged so as not to miss anything.

Other industries could benefit too. For example, in industries such as manufacturing, Google Glass could have a massive impact because they would allow for on-the-job training of workers in how to fix equipment.

Where will this all lead? The future of wearable tech

Wearable tech doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it is taken off as easily as the examples above. There are more invasive versions such as microchip implants or even smart tattoos – not for the faint hearted.

What wearable tech will actually be able to do is so far reaching it’s mind blowing. There are obvious benefits in that it has implications in the fields of medicine, health and fitness. In fact, wearable technology is set to transform the health and wellness industry.

And that’s not all…..

There is also bound to be a fun aspect to wearable technology and for gamers there is the promise of more realistic gaming environment with augmented reality. Augmented reality combines the real world and some computer generated sensory input, so gamers can become even more immersed online.

It could even be used in retail where you are literally ‘wearing’ the technology. Via virtual mirrors, you can have your body shape scanned and clothes projected onto you as a way of trying on before you buy without actually taking off the clothes you are in.

All that’s left now is to develop a range of aesthetically pleasing designs.

As well as practicality and function of wearable tech, researchers are also considering design and even fashion. We may start to see wearable technology in in our favourite bands of clothes: t-shirts, jackets, headbands and jewelry.

In fact, wearable devices may transform the use of mobile devices altogether in the not so distant future. The potential wearable trends of the future are documented here. The ones to watch out for include solar clothes that can recharge your phone, a tracker to work out where each outfit is in your wardrobe, bike helmets with a built in navigation system (better than using a smartphone whilst cycling along). There are also going to be smart socks that work out if you are making injurious movements whilst running, smart bras that track your heart rate, and even more luxurious clothing that uses technology to enhance the look.

Exciting times for wearable technology. How do you think we should wear it?