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Kela Casey

Software Engineer

Wearable Technology / Wearables

Wearable technology is a great boon to society as well as technology alike. Wearable technology has numerous expandable applications, having enormous potential to grow on gigantic levels of innovation. The very first wearable technology device was invented by math professor Edward Thorp in the 1960s. And since then its no looking back for this magic technology.

Wearable technology is at the forefront of Internet of things (IoT), as it has been quickly adopted in smart devices and computers. Wearable Technology (Wearables)is a type of electronic device that is worn as accessories which are embedded in clothing, implanted in user’s body and sometimes even tattooed on the skin. Wearable technology has greater advantages and implementations in navigation systems, healthcare, and advanced textiles.

These devices are hands-free gadgets with practical daily life uses like monitoring your pulse rate or keeping a tab on your daily-life activity and are powered by microprocessors. Also, these devices have the enhanced ability to send and receive data via Internet.

Wearables are electronic devices incorporated into daily use products that are comfortably worn on a body with added enhancements for tracking many big data information on a real-time basis. They are equipped with specially designed motion sensors which can capture the snapshots of your day to day activity and update that information by syncing with mobile devices or laptop computers.

Wearables

During earlier days, the usage of the computer was limited to working sitting on a desk all day. Slowly, technology enabled us all to stroll around with our laptops and today we are witnessing the age of wearable technology.

Thanks to wearable technology, we can now crunch bits and bytes!

Discovery of smartphones was supposedly the biggest ‘it’ thing innovation of this generation. But, hold on guys! The age of wearable technology has finally arrived to totally revolutionize our lives, with it being integrated into our shoes, eyeglasses, earrings, clothing, gloves, and watches. Smart devices like ‘Wearable Motherboards’ or ‘Smart Shirts’ are being used to monitor the health and well-being of the patients and send back information to the hub station in real-time.

Long before these wearable devices entered consumer markets, it was extensively used by military forces for security and medical purposes. With superior batteries, greater processor speed, non-stop Internet connectivity, and smarter software programming, wearable technology have mammoth potential to serve the society as well earn bigger revenues in businesses.

What are Wearable Sensors

Wearable sensors are integrated into wearable objects or body to monitor health or to provide medically relevant data for care.

Check this list of useful daily-life possibilities and activities using wearable technology:

  • A wearable technology embedded yoga outfit can monitor your condition and provide instant feedback.
  • Devices embedded in watches and jewelry can monitor your complete health conditions, and communicate alerts to you and your physician.
  • Audio video sensors laden firefighting jackets are used to track the vital signs and exact locations of squad members to maintain the tactical effectiveness and their safety.
  • People can keep tabs on their messages with Bluetooth rings.
  • A pair of Google Glasses can execute all sorts of smartphone-like activities.
  • In addition, wearables are used for tracking activities in animals.
Wearable Technology

Specialized and Practical Applications

After being in existence for many years, wearable technology is progressing from consumer accessories to the more specialized and practical applications.

Like:

  • Microchip implants are now used to replace keys and passwords. These chips are embedded in a fingertip and use near-field communication (NFC) or radio-frequency identification (RFID). Such chips are quite similar to the ones used to track lost pets/ animals.
  • RFID chips are seriously considered for keeping track of whereabouts of US army troops around the world.

Common examples of wearable technology:

  • AIR Louisville have specially designed wearable devices to monitor local air quality, pollutant level and identify hotspots for citizens with respiratory problems.
  • Cyrcadia Health has developed iTBra to detect early signs of breast cancer.
  • Smart tattoos with flexible wearable sensors are being developed to monitor heart rates and other brain functionality
  • A smartwatch for people with Parkinson’s disease tracks symptoms and track the data for a personalized healthcare solutions.
  • Child monitoring devices laced with GPS are another great example of wearable technology.
  • Smart jewelry such as rings, wristbands, watches, and pins.
  • Fitness trackers that monitor things like physical activity and vital signs use wireless technology to provide app the required data storage, processing and reporting.
  • Smart clothing with built-in technology that can perform a variety of tasks including fitness or health monitoring, interacting with phones and other devices and changing fabric characteristics to suit the user’s preference, activity or environment.

Wearable Technology turning the table in healthcare

Medical devices in wearable technology
Medical devices in wearable technology are a great asset to healthcare industry

Wearable technologies can be innovative solutions for healthcare problems, like some wearable technology applications are designed for the prevention of diseases and maintenance of health, such as weight control and physical activity monitoring.

The actual usability of this life-altering application is found in medical devices. Wearable technologies enable the continuous monitoring of human physical activities and behaviors, as well as physiological and biochemical parameters during daily life.

In recent years we have seen rapid development of many innovative wearables/ wearable sensors and these are considered a great asset for medical and healthcare uses.

These are used to measure data including vital signs like:

  • Heart rate
  • Blood oxygen saturation
  • Blood pressure
  • Posture
  • Physical activities through the use of electrocardiogram (ECG), ballistocardiogram (BCG) and other devices.
  • Body temperature
Medical wearables

Wearable devices and data analysis algorithms are used together to conduct variety of gait assessment tasks. The latest trends in medical monitoring devices and wearable health technology have been developed to monitor walking patterns, including the accelerometer, multi-angle video recorders, and gyroscopes. And a wearable photo or video devices provide additional clinical information.

In addition, wearable devices are used for patient management and disease management set ups. And these wearable applications directly impact clinical decision-making.  Also, it is predicted by many researchers across the globe that wearable technologies will improve the quality of health care in conjunction with cost effectiveness.

Most of the wearables give storage of informations to be able to track later, which is a great resource in itself as this gives the user the liberty to set short-term and long-term goals to monitor their progress.

Wearables are like walky-talky alarm clocks providing instant messages and reminders by tracking our activities and sending real-time notifications to change our activity for betterment. For example many wearables provide alerts on when to stand, run/ walk or fix our eating times. Henceforth, serving as great tool of encouragement and motivation.

Some wearables are accustomed with in-built heart monitors that provide real-time readings of heart rate. While there have been cases of this feature being effective and useful by helping to save lives, many wearable devices have shown incorrect measurements of heart rates, especially during exercise.

Please note: Although these wearables are useful medical products but its advisable to not use them for diagnose or treatment of any type of medical concerns as they show inaccurate results too.

Medical wearables

Many popular wearables, like Fitbit and the Apple watch, have become extremely popular only because of their usability and unique feature of helping us improve our fitness levels and general health condition.

After witnessing the success stories of these medical wearables, many stalwart companies are considering creating specialized medical wearables for a specified medical condition. For example, medical wearables to monitor and solve a particular health ailment are being conceptualized.

It may take a while before we see this superior technology hit the market but it has the potential to help many lives struggling with serious health ailments.

For example:

  • To supply insulin and monitor blood sugar levels, an artificial pancreas is being developed by scientists. If it happen, it will be the biggest relief news for the diabetic patients.
  • To track blood analysis, effects of drugs and for monitoring of other vital organs, skin embedded wearables are being developed. This would be another great achievements of healthcare industry as all types of medical activities be smoothly monitored.

How Wearable Technology Works

Wearable technology uses

The growth of mobile networks enabled the development of wearable technology. In the most basic sense, we have to understand that wearable technology is that technology which has devices attached to the clothes we wear.

  • Sensors can also be attached around a wearable device to allow them to monitor various activities in the area. Most sensors can track motion, brain activity, heart activity, and muscle activity. We can mostly see them in health-oriented devices.
  • Miniature computers are also inside some wearable devices, similar to how smartphones have miniature processors inside of them. These are found in smart-watches and other wearables that are supposed to help us interact with other objects in the vicinity.

Key Challenges of Wearables

The major key challenges faced by wearable technology is to get sustainable customer engagement because many of these electronic gadgets have a shorter shelf-life. There are many examples of wearable devices which were had impressive designs and functionality, yet they bombed and failed to create a long-lasting impact on the user’s lives, behaviors, and habits.

Here are some of the functional reasons which put the user off the device:

  • Difficult to sync with smartphones
  • UX issues
  • Uncomfortable design
  • Poor battery life
  • Inferior quality

Another major turn-off is the security of information

At the moment, most of the data that’s available via wearables isn’t valuable enough for hackers to pursue. But as wearables and their capabilities continue to evolve, they are more prone to getting tracked by higher-priority targets. Of course, it serve a positive purpose to supply information, but as with all big data there’s also a chance it could be misused.

Here are a few of the major risks:

  • Many wearables tend to have little to no security measures  for keeping their data safe. The fact that much of the data is unencrypted and that most of these devices use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections to transmit data gives easy access to cybercriminals.
  • It’s important to consider how this information becomes big data to be collected and used by companies and governments. This means, whether you like it or not, that your tracked information could be used for marketing or health purposes.

How wearables affect our daily lives?

What's hot in wearable technology

Wearable technology has the potential to change our lives and society to a greater extent by allowing us to get ourselves monitored under certain specific system. In just a few year’s time, wearable technology has become the talk of the town, from being totally non-existent to being everywhere. Because of this sudden spike in popularity, wearable technology aims to smoothly enter the daily lives of individuals and become a functional part of their daily life.

Wearable technology eyeing to influence the areas of health and medicine, fitness, aging, disability, education, transportation, enterprise, finance, gaming, music, etc. both financially and as a serving technology.

The hands-free nature of wearable computing devices is making it a winner everywhere, be it businesses, sports, entertainment, education, IT etc. Tracking the emergency and rescue team becomes easy, making the workplace more efficient and safe. Hands-free access to important data and information through smart glasses and smartwatches helps researchers, engineers, and technicians to be more efficient at their work.

What does the future hold for wearables?

Future of wearable technology

It’s predicted that wearables will only continue to grow in popularity, so naturally companies are finding new and innovative ways to apply them to our everyday lives.

Wearable technology is making new innovations daily especially in health care industry, where they’re going a step forward than fitness trackers and are making sleek and smart health care trackers with superior quality wearable sensors. These could be used to monitor things like blood pressure, vital signs, or blood sugar levels for diabetics.

Also smart hearing aids and glasses to measure vision performance are being made easily available to medical professionals and the common citizens. Also the trends have shown a fairly larger degree incease in the sales of pet trackers, smart jewellery, and AR/VR headsets that are continuing to grow and gain momentum.

Advantages of wearable technology

Wearables market

In the last decade only wearable technology has exponentially grown and both consumers and companies are beginning to use various devices for a variety of applications like activity trackers, smartwatches, and smart clothing.

Wearable technology provides us with the ability to monitor our fitness levels, track our location with GPS, and view text messages more quickly. And the best part about these wearables is that most of the devices allow us to do this all absolutely hands- free. Additionally they are portable too.

Technological advancements aim to make our lives smoother and easier and wearable technology is also going a notch up higher by providing several benefits throughout the day in the following ways:

1. Wearable Technology Keeps Us Fit

Some of the most-used wearable technologies aim to make users healthier in their day-to-day life. In fact, 71% of Americans say that wearable technology has improved their health.

Let’s check out this most popular fitness band Fitbit Flex-The bracelet comes with many monitoring features to help you create goals and improve your fitness by tracking your daily life activity levels, sleep cycle and your nutrient intake. The key advantage of this fitness band is its advanced functionality of tracking your progress and sending alerts on goals to better fitness level.

By tracking your steps, calories, or the distance you travel during a day, the FitBit keeps tabs on your physical activity. It also keeps a track of your calories spent.

The Fitbit Flex

This bracelet has a unique feature to detect when user is in a lighter sleep cycle and then starts to gently wake you up by vibrating during sleep cycle.

Also, the FitBit syncs with your smartphone to view graphs and data from your device. Since gadgets and apps like this tend to use a lot of mobile data, it’s advisable to have wireless Internet at home to cut the amount of data used.

The Lumo Back

Another interesting device is the Lumo Back , that can track sleep movement and body posture. Thimble Bioelectronics are currently developing a wearable pain relief which will be transmitting electric currents to chronic pain spots. It means that we will be healing a pain in the same way that we treat a cut by putting on a bandage.

Swallowable sensors– One such sensor by Proteus Health makes use of an Ingestion Event Marker which is a tiny chip embedded in a pill that reacts with stomach fluid to send a time-stamped identification signal to monitor heart rate, body position and other activity levels of the user.

2. Wearable Technology Saves Lives

Many elderly patients now wear heart monitors and GPS location devices that alert caregivers when some mishap occurs or they are in some trouble. And there are certain types of wearable Remote Patient Monitoring devices which can even alert caregivers if the patient experiences a fall or some other unpleasant condition occurs.

These devices provide the extra benefits of maintaining independence, preventing complications, and minimizing personal costs for patients.

Another interesting device is the LifeShirt which is a specially curated garment with sensors to monitor the vital signs and 30 other important biometric readings of chronically ill, elderly, cardiac and other patients with life-threatening sicknesses.

3. Authentication

Wearables also seem to be headed in the direction of authentication as a means of doing things like unlocking your home, getting into concerts, and purchasing things at the store without going through the tedious checkout process.

Disney currently uses a wearable in its parks called the MagicBand that gives customers access to rides, hotel rooms etc. in addition to providing a variety of other useful features as well.

If wearables are allowed to become essential way of authenticating experiences, they have a huge potential to actually change the way we communicate in our surrounding by speeding up our daily life processes. For example, visits to the hospital or security clearances etc., these are essentially superior technolgy temporary kinda tattoos which can carry and transfer information to other smart devices like phones and scanners.

Cons of wearable technology

  • Wearables tend to have a fairly shorter battery life. For example, some devices like the simpler Fitbit trackers, can last for several days but some of the more advanced wearable like the Apple watch, will only last for a day or so.
  • Mostly people complain about regular need to charge and removing it for the same, so the developer community is working on the possibility of wireless charging options.
  • And most importantly, these wearables cannot be trusted for measure medical conditions data as they are notorious for showing false readings. This inaccurate data reading is fatal for heart patient conditions.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Wearable technology is an important category of the Internet of things with life-changing applications in medicine and other fields.
  • The growth of mobile networks enabled the development of wearable technology.

What is Wearable Technology, Explain with Examples?

Wearable Technology is a category of electronic devices that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing, implanted in the user’s body, or even tattooed on the skin. The devices are hands-free gadgets with practical uses, powered by microprocessors and enhanced with the ability to send and receive data via the Internet.

The rapid adoption of such devices has placed wearable technology at the forefront of the Internet of things(IoT).
Few examples are:
Fitness-tracking bands made by FitbitJawboneRuntastic, Mio, Basis, Misfit, NikeMicrosoftGarmin, and others.
Smartwatches including those running Android Wear, the forthcoming Apple Watch, and the Pebble watch.
Body-mounted sensors that monitor and transmit biological data for healthcare purposes.

Why do We need Wearable Technology?

Whether a device is worn on or incorporated into the body, the purpose of wearable technology is to create constant, convenient, seamless, portable, and mostly hands-free access to electronics and computers.

1. Wearable technology can make tasks more convenient and help us track data better.
2. Improve Lives: Wearable technology has the potential to improve lives.
3. Technology such as Withings, Masimo, and Scanadu can track things like your blood pressure and pulse rate.

What was the First Wearable Technology?

Depending on the definition used for “technology,” the first wearable technology can be traced back as far as the 13th century, when eyeglasses were invented. Later, in the 16th century, the earliest portable and wearable clocks, Nuremberg eggs were invented.

What Areas of Health Care might Benefit from a Wearable Technology?

Examples of Wearable Devices in Healthcare:
1. Wearable Fitness Trackers
2. Smart Health Watches
3. Wearable ECG Monitors
4. Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors
5. Biosensors.

Why is Wearable Technology Useful?

Although there are many but we have collected list of a few wearable devices:
1. Smartwatch
2. Smart Eyewear
3. Fitness Tracker
4. Smart Clothing
5. Wearable Camera
6. Wearable Medical Device

Who Invented Wearable Technology?

The first wearable computer was created by mathematics professor Edward Thorp in the 1960s.

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About The Author

Kela has 7+ years of experience in JavaScript, Python, C++, and Java. She’s worked as a software engineer at Google on the Maps JavaScript API, at Biarri automating and optimizing Australia’s fiber network designs.

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