The wearable tech revolution is truly upon us. The form that this takes is growing all the time, from health wristbands and watches through to helmet worn cameras, and even to smart collars on our pets! Our love of technology and the way it can provide useful data seems like a match made in heaven.
This is a useful point to consider where this is all leading. Remember Robocop and Terminator? Those were some awesome cyborgs right? Well, let’s take a quick look at what a cyborg is:
“noun: a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.”
Sounds like we’re getting pretty close to that – sure there isn’t much ‘built into’ our bodies yet, but it must be a gray area.
Fashion often leads the way in the adoption of wearable tech. People look for something that is practical, useful and often an extension of their own personality. Watches feature highly in this regard, with big names like Apple, Sony and Google all making it possible to get information on our daily health activities along with our emails.
Watches seemed to be on the decline, given that they were a single function device losing out to smartphones. It will be interesting to see how much this trend reverses. Can a watch sized screen really capture the same value to people as their phones now have?
A great example of a technology solution that seems ideally suited to its users is the motorcycle helmet, Skully. This crowd funded project achieved almost 10 times the funding it was asking for because of great design and useful features.
Another targeted wearable is Zepp’s Golf Swing Analyser. This nifty gadget clips onto your glove and records your golf swing. It then provides feedback and suggests improvements via a link with your smartphone, where you can review your swing and see your progress.
Getting you to part with your hard-earned money is another area that wearable tech can help. Along with the promise of NFC integrated devices on smartphones and watches, banks like Barclays are also pushing their own products. They’ve also tried to make this as adoption friendly as possible – with options for key fobs, stickers and a wristband.
Google glasses haven’t yet dominated the high streets, but wearable eye-tech is looking very exciting for the future. Often referred to as ‘augmented reality’, these devices allow us to bridge the gap between the physical world and the virtual world. This can be done by overlying information for a given physical object. As an example, you might simply look at an advertising board and get instant information about the deals, prices, answers to common questions or ability to order in real-time.
Then there are those glasses that emerge us in the virtual world more fully – such as the Oculus Rift. At the moment this is still very much a desktop centric tool, and the form factor is too big to appeal to the great unwashed masses. It does however give us our first tentative steps into the endless realms of our imagination, beyond where we can travel today. As the price drops and the design evolves, there is every chance that this will be the next big wave of gaming adoption.
Our own solution at MiFile also offers a way to connect the real world with the virtual world. Wearing a unique number on a device allows anyone to access data that you’ve shared in the event that you’re in an emergency. Few people are going to have all their medical and care wishes neatly printed out and with them just in case they’re in trouble, so putting this securely online makes sense. We also let anyone connect you with your key contacts via SMS when you can’t speak for yourself.
We’ve come a long way from the sci-fi tricorder on the Starship Enterprise, to the present smartphones that offers more than any alien race that Kirk and Co encountered. In many ways we’re getting close to the Borg, always connected but with far better fashion sense and the added benefit of personalised choice.