Although wearable technology devices, or wearables, are relatively new to the tech scene, they have taken it by storm in a short period of time. Wearables gained a new level of cool in 2015 and became mainstream. The general public continues to adopt wearable technology at an amazing rate, in part because of the benefits, in part because of reasonable pricing, and in part because of the cool factor. No matter where you get the numbers, the wearable market is projected to grow astronomically over the next decade. So, what does a wearable really mean for your personal life?
What is a Wearable?
The term has taken on some broad meaning as the industry has progressed. Touted as the biggest tech innovation since the smartphone, true wearables are not just a cool pair of headphones or your new digital watch. Wearable tech integrates you with the Internet, usually through your smartphone. Wearables contain smart sensors that detect things like motion, heat, and light and they send this data, usually to an app, through a web connection, usually Bluetooth. From there, all kinds of things can happen.
Personalized information has been extremely popular in the health wearables market. Think of products like the ubiquitous Fitbit bracelet. Based on your current physiological data, you can basically have a low-cost personal trainer that gives you exercise, eating, and lifestyle recommendations to improve your health. Data from wearables can be used to help you quit smoking, lose weight, and even can be transferred directly to your health care provider.
Awareness and Accountability
The ability to harness gathered data is an emerging aspect of wearables that’s finding its way into the workplace. Many people realize there is often a large gap between their perceptions of what they do and what they actually do once they start tracking their activities. Anyone who has worn a fitness tracker has had the experience of being surprised by how much or how little they have moved in a day. Data from a wearable can give you a data-driven picture and might just keep you on track toward your goals. Businesses are now using data analysis and accountability to improve processes and encourage more efficient work behavior.
Improved Quality of Life
While it might be tempting to dismiss wearables as a fad or as the next fun thing that will soon disappear, there is one important indication that wearables are here to stay — wearables are improving the quality of many lives. Beyond the fitness trackers that can get people motivated to move, there are wearable earplugs that improve sleep, baby monitors embedded in a cute sock, discreet safety bracelets that call for help, and smart shoes that make it easier for the blind to move around. The list is growing every day. In fact, one could even say that wearables are revolutionizing life for some people.
The first generation of wearables, the ones we are all familiar with like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit, and Google Glass, are giving way to a whole new wearable world in which sensors are more discreet. In an interview with CNBC, Rick Yang, a partner at New Enterprise Associates, predicted that 2016 will be the year of “the disappearing wearable.” Rapid adoption by the health care industry and the fashion industry are moving this forward.
Wearables are no longer fashionable technology; they are transitioning to technological fashion, as sensors become part of everything — embedded in fibers and even in bodies. And, while the most popular devices in the world are no longer carried in your pocket but worn on your arm, wrist, or even your face, the next wave may not be seen at all.