Wearable Tech is already surpassing smartphones as the fastest growing innovative technology. According to www.statista.com, the number of wearable devices connected to the internet has increased from 325 million to around 835 million in 2020. It is expected to reach up to 1 billion by 2022. The market of wearable tech is expected to grow at the rate of 19.48% from the year 2021 to 2026.
What is Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology, as the name suggests, is an electronic device that we can wear in our body, either directly as accessories or as a part of other things such as clothing. These devices are connected to the internet and can collect, transmit and analyze our biometric data through inbuilt sensors or microchips.
Looking back, the first bluetooth headset came out in 2000, which enabled us to talk on our cellphone while driving, without using the phone directly.
September 2009 is when the “Fitbit” first came to market and thus commercialization of wearable technology started.
What is wearable fitness technology?
Wearable technology can be used for various purposes. The ones which are made for tracking the data of the user, related specifically to health and exercise are known as wearable fitness technology or wearable tech for fitness.
Types of wearable devices
- Activity Monitor
- Head-Mounted Display
- Smart Watches
- Smart Glasses
- Smart Clothing
1. Activity Monitor(activity trackers or fitness trackers)
These are devices that can track our heart rate, blood oxygen level and even our sleep. It also tracks the number of steps the user takes in a day or the amount of calories he or she burns. Fitness trackers are generally worn around the wrist but there are some newer versions out there that you can wear around your neck or can be tied to a belt.
2. Head-mounted Display
Head-mounted displays or HMD are display devices that we can wear in our heads. Virtual Reality(VR) or Augmented Reality(AR) headsets or goggles The google glass(Augmented reality Eyeglass) is one fine example. It looks like eyeglasses but actually is a computer display device. Google glass uses Android software and it displays data in front of the user’s field of vision. Some other famous examples of virtual reality Head-mounted displays are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR, and Google Cardboard.
Smartwatches generally have some extra features compared to fitness trackers. Some of these features are built-in Bluetooth, built-in mics for calls, music control and voice assistance, etc. Some of the advanced fitness trackers might also have some of these features. Smartwatches have now become the most popular among all the wearable devices that are available in the market
The Apple watch has various features. It has ECG and an Electrical heart sensor app and thus helps patients identify early warning signs regarding their heart health. Unusually high or low heartbeat might be a sign of an underlying condition or disease. The Apple Watch lets you know if your heart rate is above 120bpm or below 40bpm even after being inactive for more than 10 minutes.
It can also detect irregular heart rhythms which might be a sign of Atrial Fibrillation
It is built by an American company called Garmin. Garmin Forerunner has built-in GPS, sleep monitor, heart rate monitor, stress monitor, activity monitor, basically everything you would expect from a Smartwatch.
4. Smart Glasses
The first pair of Smart Glasses were invented by Google. It can translate your voice, take pictures and even give directions.
Yes, you heard it right. Wearable Smart clothing is the fusion of technology and textile. One example of smart clothing is Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard which Levi’s created by collaborating with Google. Another example of smart clothing is the Neviano swimsuit. It contains a UV sensor that is connected to the user’s Android or iOS device. It will send an alert to your phone if the UV levels are high and ask you to apply more sunscreen.
While wearable devices like smartwatches and activity monitors are already quite popular, new forms of technologies like Implantables are also entering the market. These are smart electronic devices that are implanted under the skin by using surgical methods.
In the world of health and wellness, implantables are used to measure and monitor various functions of the body. We can also see it as an upgraded version of traditional wearable fitness technology.
Things such as insulin levels can be tracked by using certain implantables.
Technology giant IBM is developing a brain implant that will help patients predict seizures by analyzing brain waves.
Implantables will bring a revolution to the medical field in the future.
Wearable technology in the medical field
The Medical field is probably getting the biggest benefit from wearable technology.
Scientists are developing different types of activity monitors. New sensors are being developed which will create medically relevant sensor data.
There are apps that are available now,(for ex. Skin vision), which allow someone to take a picture of the mole that is bothering you on your arm and it will tell you if you are at risk of cancer.
Another device called “Spire”, which when someone wears, tracks his or her breathing pattern.
There are activity monitors for babies which tells if the baby is breathing normally throughout the night and if the diaper of the baby is wet.
Currently, most fitness trackers in the market only track data such as heart rate, sleep, calories etc, But the newer ones will even be able to monitor things such as your glucose level, cholesterol, etc, things that we generally get at check-ups when we go to a doctor.
Some scientists are working on making contact lenses that will be able to monitor your blood glucose level regularly in your eye. Such technology will be life-saving for people who have diabetes.
Is wearable tech safe?
Sometimes we do hear about wearable technologies being harmful to our body or causing cancer. But most medical experts agree that wearable devices are mostly harmless.
According to John Sweetenham,MD and hematologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute from University of Utah, currently, there is no evidence to support the claim that using Wearable devices such as Fitness trackers could lead to cancer.
Instead, Fitness trackers can motivate you to become healthier by following certain behaviors. It will let you know if it finds out that you are inactive for a long time.
Do I really need a fitness tracker?
Of all the wearable devices that are currently available in the market, fitness trackers are the most popular and widely used ones. Many people ask this question, “do I really need a fitness tracker?” And why?
I would suggest you get one. Because it will keep you motivated to stay healthy by following certain behaviors or routines. Fitness trackers show you how many calories you are burning in a day or how many steps you have taken. Your tracker will remind you to become active if it notices that you are inactive for a long time.
When you set up a fitness goal, you can track your progress daily by using a tracker. Seeing your progress daily like this gives you the motivation to work towards your goal.
Fitness trackers also track your sleep pattern by collecting sleep data.
How wearable technology will change our life
These days, many people use wearable technologies like Apple Watch and Fitbit. But you know what, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The potential future potential of this technology is limitless. There are various ways in which wearable technology can affect our lives in the future.
In the near future, wearable devices will be something that exists inside our body rather than outside, like implantables. Smart tattoos are being developed nowadays. These are electronic systems that can be glued to the skin. They could connect and send signals to those devices and will help users interact with the world around them.
In the future, smart jewelry such as earrings will also become common.
Wearable technology will expand human potential. In the future, it will make us kind of similar to superhumans.
What do you think about the future of wearable technology? Are you excited? Let me know in the comments section.