Wearable technology is steadily progressing to the point where devices are becoming closely intertwined with their users in order to assist them with their daily lives. The trend towards tech with a more human face looks set to predominate over the next few years.
The growing popularity of connected objects indicates that people are now increasingly keen to be able to personally monitor and control their environment by harnessing technology. Devices available now are not just to be found in our pockets or hands, but are being directly incorporated into clothing and even placed under the skin. These innovations are having a far-reaching impact on how people work and socialise, and more generally on the way they live. A report, The Future of Wearable Tech drawn up by ‘content network’ PSFK Labs in conjunction with online tech tracking magazine iQ by Intel, points to the growing desire on the part of consumers to get hold of technology that is more suited to their real needs and wants, in effect more ‘human’. Examining the relationship that people have with technology and how they use it, the report highlights three major themes: ‘connected intimacy’, the ‘tailored ecosystem’ and ‘co-evolved possibilities’.
Connected devices becoming ever more intimate
What the report’s authors describe as ‘connected intimacy’ refers to the desire to continually share remotely, via clothing and accessories, personal information about our feelings, health or mood with family and friends. The analysts point to a growing fondness for objects such as the T.Jacket, a jacket for children which simulates cuddles and is remotely controlled by the child’s parents via a tablet. Another example is a tooth-embedded sensor developed by the National Taiwan University which informs your dentist about what you are eating. The second trend highlighted by the report – the ‘tailored ecosystem’ – is all about moves to help users integrate technology into their daily lives in order to meet their needs more precisely. Medical advances based on biotechnology are expected to become increasing available through devices such as Microsoft’s Septimu earphones, which can change your music according to your mood, and the Sensoria smart socks that use tracking sensor technology to warn of impending injury or alert you to the risk of a fall.
Key wearable tech trends
The third technology-with-a-human-face trend highlighted in the report is what the PSFK-iQ experts call the ‘person as computer’ trend, i.e. the growing desire to augment native human abilities. One example is the headphone implant developed by a visually-impaired American who fears losing his sight in the near future, to improve his ability to interact with his surroundings based on hearing. Another is the Kapture customisable wristband which allows you to “save and share spontaneous audio so you never miss a moment,” promises the Kapture website. Overall such technological advances are driving developers of the next generation of devices to incorporate an ever-greater range of features. Soon we can expect to see tiny devices that are perfectly suited to the human body, our physical movements and biological functions. The authors predict moreover that we can expect the relay of information between people and machines to become far more intuitive, shifting to real time as changes take place during the day. Curious to see whether these challenges will be met over the next few years? Watch this space!