Nathan Baranowski reflects on the possibilities that wearable tech could offer us.
I have been following the news and reviews coming out of MWC 2014 with interest. There seems to be an ever increasing interest and excitement around wearable tech.
A recent article from the BBC - Are most new technology products just fashion items? - suggested such things are not that impressive, yet the hype around such things as Googles Glass and other wearable tech is attracting a lot of attention. Things like the Weon Glasses, bring fashion and functionality together to provide a product that doesn’t look like it is straight out of the movie Tron.
Watches aside the idea that wearable tech can really transform how we live our lives and support health is something we can all stop and think about. A smart phone that doubles as a health monitor, a jumper that can communicate our moods or even a tattoo that measures our blood sugar levels.
Wearable tech isn’t new though. Remember the calculator watch and even the one that could act as a remote control? They’re not like the new swish smart watches looking to hit the market this year, yet the technology has been there for a while.
Today using technology means making an effort. If you need to use your phone, computer or tablet you have to engage with it. The general trend is towards a world where technology becomes invisible. A world where we are one and the same. A coat that has a built in MP3 Player, a jumper that keeps us connected to our friends on Facebook or a tattoo that continually monitors our vital signs.
Although a lot of the attention on the wearable tech market is about consumerism and what will be next after the tablet, the potential health benefits of some of the applications that are emerging are immense.
I have recently been working with a disabilities charity and often the challenge of independence presents itself in helping people live the lives they choose. Take something like Google Glass and you could revolutionise how people interact. A typical scenario might be someone living by themselves and having prompts (often digital photos of specific things for example cooking a meal), using Google Glass you could know they are by the cooker, prompt them to ask if they need instructions and give them guidance, including presenting the instructions to a whole series of recipes and options. Connect that to the fridge to help know if they have the ingredients to make it you can even offer suggestions. Take that slighter further and what happens when someone comes to the door and the person is worried. They support worker could be on the phone to them and see what’s happening there and then and help take them through the process, provide reassurance and assist them.
These are relatively simple examples and the opportunity to support and enable people to live better lives through such technology is a huge opportunity.
I doubt we will all be walking around with Google Glass in the next two years, but I do believe the move to wearable and more invisible tech is the way to go.