Wearable technology isn’t exactly new. Some experts argue that the first wearable tech was invented in 1286, when eyeglasses first allowed the myopic to see distances clearly. Throughout the 20th century, gadget-makers loved putting new tech onto headbands, watches, and shoes, even if it reduced functionality.
When it comes to the IoT, wearables first emerged in the ‘00s with Bluetooth headsets and more that can communicate with users’ phones and computers.
Today, the ecosystem of wearable technology is almost impossible to comprehend. There is a veritable menagerie of clip-on, tie-on, wrap-on, and slide-on technology that collects and analyzes data, sends messages to other tech, and assumes other responsibilities to make users’ lives easier and more comfortable. If you have lost track of the evolution of wearable tech, have no fear: This guide can help.
Wearable Tech Sends and Receives Messages
As mentioned before, some of the first IoT wearables consisted of Bluetooth tech that synchronized effortlessly with phones and computers. Then and now, the primary objective of Bluetooth has been to share information between devices by sending and receiving messages. Initially, that information consisted of sound: Headset users relied on wearable tech to communicate vocally without physically holding their devices to their ears and mouths.
Today, the information bouncing to and from wearable IoT is nearly limitless, and similarly unlimited is the form this IoT can take. Most often, wearables can display phone calls, text messages, social media updates, and app alerts, but there is little doubt that wearables of the near future will be able to share more advanced information. Currently, smart watches are the most common wearable tool for sending and receiving messages, but smart jewelry and clothing that provide the same functionality are already available. Sending and receiving messages is a thrilling and practical application of IoT wearables.
Wearable Tech Tracks Fitness and Health
The possibilities for wearable tech are perhaps the most expansive in the health and fitness industry. Already, Fitbits and similar devices allow users to understand their exercise and sleeping habits, which helps them improve their health in these domains. However, healthcare professionals have greater visions for application of wearable IoT.
Indeed, the prospects of wearable medical technology are great. Recognizable medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps can connect to the IoT for added monitoring and functionality. Meanwhile, brand-new IoT devices could dramatically improve the collection of health data, which gives doctors and patients more information for the purposes of diagnoses and treatment. For example, ingestible sensors can monitor the activity of the gastrointestinal system, sending data to a nearby receiving device. Studies using IoT are planned for arthritis, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. The combination of wearable tech and the IoT is already revolutionizing the healthcare industry, and patients of the future have much to look forward to.
Wearable Tech Makes Payments
Innovations in payment technology tend to be few and far between. When it comes to their money, people are usually reluctant to change, fearing insecurity or inefficiency that exposes their funds to unnecessary threat. As a result, payment-related wearables have been slow to evolve – but they are finally here.
Mostly taking the form of wrist cuffs but also appearing in fashionable jewelry and watches, wearable payment technology is available (or will soon be so) from nearly all of the biggest IoT developers: Amazon, Samsung, Fitbit, etc. With a few taps on their tech, users can make payments online or in-person without reaching for their wallets. Any initiative that improves the convenience of paying is positive for merchants and consumers alike.
Wearable Tech Augments Reality
Augmented reality is a new and relatively untested development in tech. Not long ago, Google has big plans for wearable augmented reality: Google Glass. These stylish goggles were meant to help users optimize their interactions with the world, allowing them to know more about their environment, engage with entertainment more seamlessly, and more. Though Glass failed to catch on with the greater public, interest in augmented reality has not waned.
Smart glasses like Glass are the most likely wearable for augmented reality because the tech relies heavily on sight for functionality. However, the concepts of IoT, AR contact lenses and brain-stimulating microchips are also popular – though they veer more directly into the realm of the Medical Internet of Things. For AR to become popular with IoT users, a few major issues must be addressed – but with the rate of development in wearable IoT, you could be using an augmented reality wearable within the next decade.