Wearable tech - past and future innovations
By Louise Richardson
Brand new inventions are announced frequently - some are designed to make our lives easier and others to help us monitor what we do each day. And, with the latest developments, we don't need to carry around our favourite gadgets by hand - many of them are now wearable. In 2016, 61 million fitness, activity and sports trackers were sold along with 14 million wearable cameras and 15 million virtual and augmented reality headsets.
Aesthetically pleasing technology
It's important that wearable technology has an element of style to it. It has to look attractive and be something that people would happily wear with their regular items. This has been difficult, especially when it comes to items such as Bluetooth headsets and smartwatches, as they can often look out of place.
An example of this is the smartwatch sector, developments in which have made the product more attractive to buyers. The latest releases from brands such as Samsung are much more stylish and look more like a watch that'd be bought for fashion purposes. With coloured leather straps and a circular face, brands are moving away from square screens and plastic straps as they realise that smart-watches that look very digitalised don't go down as well with the target market.
Furthering this, is the collaboration between Levi's, Jacquard and Google. They created wearable technology that could be worn seamlessly with other clothes. The Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket comes with its own app and you can control music with a few swipes of the sleeve. Could we see future innovations like this integrated in men's blazers or women's dresses?
Using technology to monitor our well-being
There are ways that wearable technology can help us improve our wellbeing.
In conjunction with global beauty brand L'Oréal, researchers developed a wearable device that could monitor UV exposure. Clip it onto a denim jacket or individuals can wear it on their thumb to get an accurate reading of the current UV levels and take appropriate action to keep their skin protected.
Another health monitoring innovation is the health tag. Link them up with your phone to track your activity, sleep, heart rate, breathing patterns and stress levels.
Future developments could be made so that wearable tech can help our health services too. There has been discussion around the possibility that well-known fitness tracker, Fitbit, could help doctors predict how a patient may react to chemotherapy.
What do forecasts say?
Statistics have revealed that 411 million smart wearable devices will be sold in 2020, in a market worth $34 billion. But, what type of wearables will they be? CCS Insight predicts the following number of sales by device in 2020:
- * Wristbands - 164 million
- * Watches - 110 million
- * Eyewear - 97 million
- * Wearable cameras - 25 million
- * Hearables - 9 million
- * Tokens, clip-on, and jewellery - 4 million
- * Other - 2 million
Similar to today, in the future it seems that wristbands and watches will still be dominating the market. And, with 97 million eyewear pieces to be sold in 2020, it will be interesting to see how these will be developed and designed to be truly wearable for all.