Wearable technology explained

Wearable technology, wearable devices, fashion electronics or tech togs: give it whatever name you want, but there is little doubt wearables have broken through as the next big thing in the technological sphere.

With the Wearable Technology Show 2015 looming – it will take place in London on March 10-15 and is set to be the largest gathering of wearables to date – we have decided to put together a wearable technology guide to explain what all the fuss is about.

Wearable technology explained: What is wearable technology?

Broadly speaking, wearable technology refers to any accessories or clothing items that incorporate computers or the latest, advanced electronic technologies.

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The idea is actually not as new as it may appear. It is linked to the area of ubiquitous computing and wearable computers. One of the earliest examples was the calculator watch, which was first introduced in the 1980s. Since then, there have been numerous examples of wearable technology, ranging from Ilya Fridman’s design that places a Bluetooth microphone and headset into a pair of earrings; to the Spy Tie, which incorporated a video camera.

Some of the more successful early wearable technology examples included components that offer real-time feedback for athletes; to electroluminescent shirts that have featured at both Lollapalooza and the Electric Daisy Carnival.

Wearable technology explained: Wearable technology examples

Let’s take a look at some of the modern examples of wearable technology that are available in 2015:

  • Apple Watch: Set to be launched in April 2015, the Apple Watch is much more than just a way of telling the time. Instead it is set to bring the technology that you currently use on a smart phone, straight to your wrist – examples include messaging and GPS. Most predictions suggest that the Apple Watch will be the most successful form of wearable technology set to be launched this year. In addition, it could include Apple Pay services – meaning that you could carry out your banking and deal with your financial affairs using your wrist.
  • Nymi Band: Already available for pre-order, the Nymi Band, which looks like a simple wrist band and is also known as HeartID, is designed to unlock devices and remember passwords simply by using your heart’s signature. Using an electrocardiogram, it confirms your identity to wirelessly prove who you are. It can be linked with services and devices and Nymi is reported to be developing technology that will allow you to swipe the device and make secure payments.
  • Lumo Lift: We’re always taught that we should make the effort to improve our posture… but few of us maintain a straight back, particularly when we’re typing in front of our computers and our minds are focused on work. However, now the Lumo Lift hopes to change that by reminding us to sit up by vibrating whenever your back slouches. The device, which is worn in the same manner as a lapel pin, will also track your activities and fitness making it an all-round health focused gadget.
  • JUNE by Netatmo: The FitBit is already well-established in the market and now JUNE hopes to take wearable health devices to a new level. JUNE looks like a simple bracelet – but in reality it monitors your skin’s exposure to the sun. It syncs with an iPhone and will register the UV rays that you are exposed to during the day. In addition, the device offers notifications on when you should seek out some shade; as well as providing advice on the right sun-cream for you and when you should be wearing sunglasses and a hat.
  • FitBark: Wearable technology is not just for humans… it’s also taking off for pets too. Known as the FitBark, this small device links to your dog’s collar and will keep track of their activities around the clock. The idea is that you can monitor their fitness, while it will also highlight any changes in behaviour that may be linked to health conditions, etc. It should have the added bonus of making you fitter too: by encouraging humans to be more active to help their pets.
  • Voyce: Another hot new technology for our favourite pooches is Voyce. It is a collar designed to monitor a dog’s vital signs: giving owners a heads-up on any symptoms of illness; as well as providing reminders about fitness goals. It even has the potential to store your dog’s medical records and will offer a membership programme that includes educational content.

So how successful will wearable technology be?

After the failure of concepts such as Google Glasses, many people have been quick to write-off the potential of wearable technology. However, the influx of new technologies on the market in 2015, coupled with the anticipated popularity of the Wearable Technology Show, suggests that these concepts are on the verge of a serious mainstream breakthrough.

The focus appears to be on health and financial products: with GPS technology also playing a key role. Smart watches are set to be the next wave that dominates the market with ABI Research suggesting that wearable technologies will reach 485million device shipments as early as 2018. Research by Forbes meanwhile suggests the devices will boom among younger people: with 71 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds said to want wearable technology. The next goal appears to be to merge it with different types of clothing.

So it’s clear that after a stuttering start and its fair share of teething problems, the buzz about wearable technology is back: and this time it’s not going away.

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