Everybody wonders what the future of wearable technology will be. We’re well into the 21St Century now, and most of us have come across some form of wearable technology. Claiming to be innovative, fashionable and life-changing, is this the real deal, or just another fad that will run its course?
Computers and Fashion – Should They Mix?
You will see many consumers, incorporating this tech into their everyday wardrobe, whether it’s the trendy Google Glass, offering tools such as navigation on the move, social media access, camera and music functions, and of course, Google access, or perhaps they could be wearing a Samsung Gear watch, allowing them to make and receive hands-free voice calls, locate their connected phone, play music and access voice functions.
All of this sounds very advanced and impressive, but with the cost of the Samsung Gear priced upwards of $200 and Google Glass starting at $1,500, are these luxury items reserved for the top 5%? With the vast majority of the public unable to afford or unwilling to spend these amounts of money for something that performs the same task that a smart phone can, it’s not unreasonable to expect these commodities to fade out, much the same as the 3D TV or the netbook have.
Function over Fashion
As usually happens to be the case, somebody has put the technology to use and created something that for use in a sector that has a much wider benefit: health. There is actually wearable tech that could potentially save your life, because someone put a focus on functionality rather than convenience. Dr. Jesse Slade Shantz, chief medical officer at OMsignal, was tasked with exploring whether it was possible to create a product capable of replacing the Holter monitor (a wearable heart tracker).
The result of this was a range of smart exercise clothing that could provide an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading from the biometric sensors in the fabric. The data from the clothing is collected by a separate device and sent to a smartphone app where it can be analyzed using complex algorithms. The patented technology that implements the sensors in the fabric claims to read vital signs efficiently when wet or dry, making the clothing more accurate that a wristband, and, perhaps most importantly, meaning the clothing is designed to be washed regularly!
You may think at this point that this is another convenience gimmick – an everyday heart-rate monitor, right? However, one of the real-life uses of this technology has been created by Bioserenity:an at-home diagnosis for epilepsy. With over 50 million people affected worldwide, and the current process of diagnosis requiring patients to be hooked up to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine when a seizure occurs, correct diagnosis can be both time-consuming and expensive, especially as almost 20% of non-epileptic events are incorrectly linked to epilepsy when they could be of a different origin.
The biometric t-shirt and optional cap can be worn in the comfort of home, without the need for extensive wiring or even the need to remain in bed, using smartphones and a wireless internet connection to record and transmit the data. Because an EEG recording tends to last between 20 to an hour, it can be difficult to record a seizure, due to their irregular rate. However the biometric devices, known as the Wemu system, allow for ongoing monitoring which can mean faster and more accurate diagnosis.
The Foreseeable Future
So it may seem that not all wearable technology clothes are fashionable, and not all are necessarily useful, however there are some real life uses of the technology that could mean significant developments in the fields of medicine and even sport. The key to whether these products will be around in the next 5 or 10 years really depend on their practical uses, their availability and probably most importantly, the price.
If you learn more about the future of wearable technology, watch this video.