Wearables : Much More Than Consumer Products
Article by Adam Freed, Co-Founder and CEO, IoT613
When someone mentions wearables to you, what comes to your mind? A Fitbit? An Apple Watch? Great modern examples of consumer applications of wearables, to be sure, but how we define wearables can provide a different view.
Would you define everyday prescription eyeglasses or a standard wristwatch as wearable technology? These may not be able to fit our idea of “smart” or connected technology, but history is actually riddled with examples of wearables that you may not have considered to be defined as such. Looking back, we can see the impact on society that some of these have had, but only time will tell what will come of today’s wearables. Whether current wearable technology has staying power has yet to be seen, but given the rapid pace of technological advancement, will tomorrow’s wearables bear any resemblance to what we see today, or will we be laughing at the sight of an Oculus Rift in 40 years like we do with the first commercial cell phones?
Eyeglasses can be traced back to Pisa, Italy, circa 1285-1289. Those would have used the most advanced lens technology of the time and would have been a life-altering investment for the vision impaired. Over 700 years later, it’s difficult to walk down the street without crossing paths with a bespectacled person, and you yourself may even be said person. Over the years, eyeglasses have been refined and perfected, contact lenses have been invented, providing a different type of wearable lens, and wearable technology has been developed to allow the user to even see at night. With the shrinking size and prices of sensors and microprocessors, continuous advances in screen qualities, and by leveraging the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) the realms of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have begun to find their way into everyday life. Although still considered a gimmick by some (i.e., the nearly forgotten Pokemen GO craze), devices like Google Glass 2.0 are showing the potential for impact in industrial and healthcare environments, among others.
At the past two IoT613 conferences in 2015 and 2016 we had speakers and sponsors from various wearable tech companies including DOT, which measures brainwaves in conjunction with an add to help children with ADHD focus, and Hykso, a punch tracking system to enhance training for boxers. Our closing keynote speaker in 2016 was Dr. Andrew Pelling of the Pelling Lab at the University of Ottawa, works in what he calls “augmented biology”. Dr. Pelling has presented on the concept of implantable technology and the brain-machine interface. Perhaps the future of wearables does not include the concept of “wearable” at all, but only time will tell.
The 2018 Annual IoT613 Conference will see an expanded program of two full days of expert speakers with a full day focused on wearable technology. We’ll be looking at various applications of wearable technology including AR and smart materials, implementations in different industries, in addition to such socio-economic factors as personal data privacy and the future of wearable tech. Stay tuned as we release exciting news about the conference over the next few months by signing up to THINGS!, our newsletter, and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.