Humankind has always been driven by a desire to augment our natural abilities in order to better adapt to and control our environments. From the early primitive tools of the Stone Age to emotional reflecting sweaters and Google Glass, it has been a long ambitious road towards human, social and technological advancement.
We are now entering into an exciting new age of wearable technology, one of the most important eras in the history of computing. Technology is no longer just for our desks and pockets. It is now subtly displayed on our bodies and will one day even be merged with them.
In the next five years we will see the rapid development of wearable technology that is integrated into every aspects of our lives. Wearable technology will be used to help record the world around us, control our environment and communicate information between one another.
Much of the innovation will develop first through wristbands. As devices become smaller, faster and more feature packed, other jewelry like devices will follow - such as rings and necklaces. We will also see an influx in smart clothing within the next couple of years. It is predicted that by the year 2018, we will rely most heavily on embedded devices - technology that is physically embedded into our bodies. This is not a Stephen King novel, this is actually the future of wearable tech.
A great example of this is the T.Jacket, a hug simulation jacket which enables parents to calm their children via mobile devices. The jacket uses embedded air pockets to simulate hugs without human contact. Initially developed with autistic children in mind, the T.Jacket has an even wider application for parents who spend a lot of time away from home.
According to a study by the Centre for Creative and Social Technology, 36 percent of American wearable tech survey respondents said that they use wearable technology to enhance their love lives. Tactilu is a bracelet that is capable of transmitting touch between to people even when they are miles apart. While Bond is a smart watch that uses touch to save long distance relationships.
This smart diaper detects health issues for babies and communicates them to parents via smartphone. By scanning the QR code on the diaper, the parent can check to see if the baby is suffering from at UTI, if the kidneys are healthy or if the child is dehydrated. It will even recommend if you should take the child to see a doctor.
However, wearables will not only be used to track physical health, but can also be used to reflect emotional health. For example, the Ger Mood Sweater by Sensoree interprets emotions and displays the wearer’s mood instantly as an interactive light display. Sensors in the clothing detect bodily rhythms along with excitement levels and translates the data into a palate of colors.
Doppel can naturally make you feel more alert or relaxed on demand using the innate human response to rhythm. It’s designed to keep you alert for a long work day, or calm and relaxed in stressful situations. It works in the same manner as music, up-beat music energizes you while down-beat music has a calming effect. Doppel does this with a vibration you feel, rather than hear. You can use it to wind down to fall sleep, to keep going through that really long meeting or to stay calm when you’re nervous.
“The human machine is the most complex and powerful machine there is. Technology should not just monitor us, but actively help us to realize our potential” said the creators of the device, Team Turquoise. Their mission is to create a whole new market for wearables, bridging the gap between mindfulness, well-being and technology.
“We do not see the future of wearables as blinking lights and flashing screens, but rather a softer technology that works symbiotically with us, helping us to be the person we want to be.”
Joi M. Sears is the Founder and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in offering creative solutions to the world's biggest social, environmental and economic challenges through the arts, design thinking and social innovation.