Analysts vary greatly in their predictions for wearable technology. With the growth of the Quantified Self movement, fitness trackers, and the Internet of Things, the wearable tech revolution is poised for takeoff.
“Once you put a device on your body, it becomes an expression of who you are.” – Christina Farr
The World of Wearable Technology Applications
In a recent report, Beecham Research identified 7 market opportunities for wearable tech: Security/Safety, Medical, Wellness, Sport/Fitness, Lifestyle Computing, Communication, and Glamour.
You can view and interact with Beecham Research’s interactive chart for the “World of Wearable Technology Applications” by clicking here.
“For wearable tech to work for the masses, it has to be: unobtrusive, lightweight, practical, user-friendly, inexpensive, user maintainable (think battery replacement), and attractive.” – Ken Hess
Rethinking Design for Wearable Tech
“The biggest hurdle to wearables hitting the mainstream isn’t technology. It’s fashion.” – Christina Farr
To broaden the appeal and adoption of wearable tech, some designers are working on making devices less “geeky” and more fashionable – including Sonny Vu. His company, Misfit Technologies, wants to make wearable computing more aesthetic. “Wearable stuff is not very wearable,” says Vu, who spent the last two years designing “Shine”, a tracker that can be worn as a necklace or on the wrist like a watch, and pass as jewelry.
Designing People-Centric Health Devices
“It is only Sonny Vu, with Misfit and the Shine device, that actually considered some of the issues that I am interested in.” – Peta Bush, Researcher and Designer
Peta Bush is a contemporary jewelry designer from London who turned her focus to wearable health devices. “I have a few health conditions, and that meant that I had to wear a few of these devices–splints and supports, Tens machines … I was appalled at how these things are designed. The fit is very poor. The materials are gross. How can we make these objects more desirable?”
Peta points to eyewear, which started out as a medical device and are now considered a style object. She would like to see a similar evolution for all types of wearable health tech, “We wear objects as adornment, to feel good. How can we change these objects to fit in with all these other objects we wear?”
Peta’s current PhD research is about being “people-centric”, looking at how devices contribute to the well-being of a person as a whole, not just as a body.
“I really want to find out how people feel about the objects they wear. So I am asking for you to send me images of an object or objects you wear and tell me why you like it or dislike it, and how you feel when you are wearing it.”
Contact Peta on her “Wearable and Bearable” Facebook page, or via Twitter, @shubush. I had the pleasure of interviewing Peta about her fascinating work, and you can listen to or download the full interview with Peta here.
Will Wearable Tech Make Us More Human?
“We want to be just as involved in wearable technology as everyone else,” says Microsoft Research’s Asta Roseway. Roseway and Sheridan Martin Small created “The Printing Dress”, winning Best Concept and Best in Show at the 15th annual International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC) in San Francisco.
“My goal, my hope, is to see technology eventually make its way back to being human again. I want a warm future … The technology can eventually become invisible.” – Asta Roseway
A way for the masses to get used to wearable tech is tracking a pet’s health. Although some may be concerned about the data they collect and share about themselves, many will be more than happy to share tracking data for their dog. The Whistle Activity Monitor is an on-collar device that measures a dog’s activities, and sends detailed reports to the veterinarian. The device could proactively detect a health issue, such as arthritis or diabetes.
There is also wearable tech for service dogs. FIDO was created to enable clearer communication between service dogs and human handlers, particularly those living with disabilities.
Wearable Tech for Babies
A group ready to embrace wearable technologies and tracking are first-time parents according to Tictrac Founder Martin Blinder.
Owlet Baby Care has developed the first “smart sock” that transmits a child’s heart rate, oxygen levels, skin temperature, sleep quality and position to a parent’s smartphone.
A Smart Diaper by Pixie Scientific can reveal signs of a urinary tract infection, prolonged hydration, and developing kidney problems.
What will be the future for wearable tech and self-trackers? Will millennials adopt or reject smartwatches? Look for Part 4 of the QS series next week.
Join Angela Dunn for a discussion about Wearable Tech and the Growth of the Quantified Self Movement at our #HITsm Twitter Chat, this Friday, September 13th at 11 a.m. CDT, or check your local time zone here.
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