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The Future of Wearable Tech

Joi Sears headshotWords by Joi Sears
Data & Technology

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.

Connected Intimacy

Wearable technology is adding new layers to our personal relationships by extending the reach and power of how we communicate and share details about ourselves regardless of distance. They provide a continuous link between people, simulating closeness and changing the way we understand one another.

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.

Physical and Emotional Mirrors

Another emerging trend that we see in wearable technology, is the use of embedded tracking devices which can be used to monitor the health and physical performance of users. For example, this tooth embedded sensor relays eating habits to your dentist. The device fits discreetly in between the wearer's teeth and can differentiate between eating, speaking, smoking, drinking and breathing.

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.

Empathic Wearables

The Doppel is an example of empathic technology. It is a bracelet that uses changes in rhythm to change your mood. The human body has a natural response to different types of rhythm. Whether it’s synching to the beat of a song, or to someone else’s heartbeat, these changes in rhythm affect us throughout the day. Doppel captures these rhythms in a wearable that emits a pulse on the inside of your wrist, emitting signals that no one else can see or hear.

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.”


Photo Credit: Team Turquoise, Sensoree, T.Jacket

Joi Sears headshotJoi Sears

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.

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