In 1977, a wristwatch calculator became the first piece of popular wearable technology. The Hewlett Packard HP-01 could tell the time, set alarms, and make simple calculations despite being as small as other wrist watches at the time. This first innovation held vital hints related to the future of wearable tech, which would involve computations of all types.
According to Grandview Research, the global industry was worth over $32 billion back in 2019. Some projections estimate wearable technology could be worth more than double that amount by 2027. The boom is largely due to the rise in IoT (Internet of Things) products.
Back in the 1980s, wearable tech most commonly related to products like The Walkman, and early smartwatches. These ideas have culminated in the modern smartphone, which is a hub for most handy services—IoT and beyond.
Today, wearable tech allows consumers to monitor, manage, and analyze a range of personal data to create customized experiences and services. This covers different areas of life—from air conditioning to healthcare to ordering groceries. With new ideas emerging constantly, the future of wearable tech is vast and multifaceted.
Here are three of the most unique applications in use today.
Pro Sports: The Homework Check
One of the first industries to lean on wearable tech was professional sports. With the data revolution of the early 2000s, many major franchises shifted their focus to granular stats in order to make big changes. To do this, coaches and staff relied on wearable tech to forecast player readiness.
They’ve also relied on wearable tech to monitor player activity in the offseason or during breaks. Remotely, athletes are required to don their devices so coaches and other staff can monitor their workouts, effectively doing a homework check to make sure they’re raising their heart rates and covering enough distance.
Off the pitch, sports data from wearable tech has found a variety of applications. Sportsbooks are particularly interested in stats as they work to create predictive algorithms. With companies competing against one another in terms of free bet offers and other welcome deals, being able to provide bettors with picks informed by comprehensive data is becoming a priority for brands.
Smart Jewelry: Subtlety is Key
There’s a growing movement in wearable tech to bridge the worlds of fashion and technology. In the past, early models of the FitBit or Garmin watches were utilitarian and sporty. However, as more and more consumers opt into IoT, there’s a growing emphasis on style.
For example, one product, Ringly, uses a false amethyst gem with a rose gold band. The simple product has different settings to alert the wearer that their smartphone has received a call, text, or voicemail. The ring itself looks like an ordinary piece of jewelry—though it’s likely the brand will offer more colors soon.
Another, titled Diffus, takes wearable technology to a new level. The dress provides key information about dangerous levels of pollution in the air. Sensors light up when certain amounts of CO2 are in the air. Though adapted for a runway, this type of wearable technology is likely to see medical and geological applications in the coming years.
Body Hacking: Canine Edition
One of the first applications of wearable tech was to track the heart rate of a wearer. This was relevant for athletes, as well as various healthcare workers and their patients. At the moment, heartrate and health monitors are available for pets—but this could shift to entertainment in the coming years.
Recently, Nikon filmed a commercial that showcased an advanced collar for dogs. The wearable tech has a camera mounted to it. Every time the dog’s heart rate passes a certain threshold and elevated levels of sniffing are detected, the camera takes a photo.
The idea is to monitor a pet’s emotional reaction to a situation and snap photos to document their most exciting moments. Already, similar devices exist, which log a dog’s activity to provide key insights related to their behavior, wellness, and physical health. Others are more basic, allowing owners to track lost dogs and pets.
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