11 Great Examples of Wearable Technology

Ever since the Caped Crusader first donned his famous utility belt, the idea of wearable gadgets has captured the imagination. Of course wearable technology is nothing new and even the earliest wristwatches and spectacles fall into this category but today's technological advances and miniaturisation have opened up an immense range of possible future applications limited it seems only by our imagination.

The Smart Watch

The Apple Watch is probably the most hyped example of the smart watch but is certainly not the first nor the most advanced. Despite huge pre-launch publicity, its sales have been slow and by Apple's standards it must be regarded as something of a flop. Its fitness app gives such information as how long you have been sitting for and of course it works perfectly well as a watch (but so does a bottom of the range Casio!). Its appearance may impress a twelve year old gadget fan but most mature adults will find it rather tacky. The main problem is that it really only functions as an iPhone accessory making it about as interesting as a TV remote control.

Fitness Bands

Fitness Bands such as Fitbit and Jawbone are hugely popular as their wearers seem to believe that simply by wearing them they are following a life changing fitness routine. Their measurement parameters are fairly basic but give some indication as to an individual's fitness levels. Serious athletes rely on more sophisticated monitoring in order to optimise training techniques and achieve the best possible performance.

Contactless Payment Devices

This technology has been around for a long time now but its take-up has been slow. For most users it seems like gadgetry for the sake of it with no particular advantages but for retailers and banks it represents a great way to get money with no need for any expensive human input. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barclays are working on providing customers with smart key fobs, stickers and wristbands.

Fashion and Clothing

When Katy Perry wore a Cute Circuit LED illuminated dress in 2010, the idea of wearable technology in fashion really took off. Smart textiles are now available capable of displaying changing patterns, colours and even tweets! It may simply be a gimmick but has huge sales potential.

Military Uniforms

Following on from the above, smart fabrics have a significant future in the design of military uniforms. Although we are unlikely to see our armed forces going into action wearing Katy Perry dresses, military uniforms will certainly incorporate sophisticated circuitry to power all kinds of equipment. The advent of ultra-thin flexible batteries with solar and kinetic charging will add to the smart uniform's capabilities.

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Smart Jeans

Anyone who has ever wanted to control a TV or laptop simply by rubbing their thigh will welcome the arrival of patches of intelligent textiles developed to be incorporated in denim jeans. This may be in the form of a touchpad or even low power radar which can detect hand gestures made close by. The only question is why?

Homing Sunglasses

Wearable technology does not have to be cutting edge and Tzukuri Bluetooth sunglasses are designed never to be lost. This seems like a slightly updated version of those key rings that bleep when you whistle.

Smart Jewellery

Many people find that an incoming message notification is rather vulgar when announced by a bleeping or vibrating phone so the "Ringly" by Christina Mercando is simply a highly attractive gemstone ring which flashes to herald the announcement.

Smart Glasses

The term "Smart Glasses" is really a vast understatement as these devices, such as Google Glasses, are in reality head worn computers. Although originally launched as consumer devices, their popularity seems to have suffered due to their generally unacceptable appearance. People feel uneasy when dealing with what simply looks like a head-cam and the geeky looks of their users soon gave rise to the name "Glass-holes". The emphasis has now changed to business use and, especially in medicine, this could represent a tremendous advantage.

The Future?

The future applications of wearable technology seem almost endless but, in true Darwinian style, many will fall by the wayside while others gain in popularity and strength. Medical applications will become ever more sophisticated with such devices as the Google smart contact lens which monitors glucose levels and, as monitoring systems continue to advance, software developers such as FirstApp provide the number-crunching with mobile healthcare apps and clinical trials apps with particular emphasis on iOS, Windows and Android platforms. The fickle world of fashion is more difficult to predict but current estimates suggest that around 26 million smart garments will be sold during 2016. Suddenly Batman's utility belt is looking decidedly old-hat!

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