Gartner’s Predicts 2016: Mobile and Wireless report holds many insights into wearable tech with key findings including an estimated 5 million people having enterprise-confidential information on their smartwatches by 2018, and 2020 seeing tech disruptions causing 40% of enterprises to restrict notifications on smartphones and wearables. Though Gartner believes organizations will have to work hard to reduce interruption through smart filtering, training and awareness, and biometric monitoring integration with smart messaging, it’s also apparent that wearables will encourage productivity with devices such as smartwatches allowing users to view project dashboards and meeting reminders, message colleagues, and log hours worked and generate invoices. But wearables won’t only be impacting the business environment. Today, the majority of wearable tech is far more focused on the individual’s lifestyle.
Wearable Tech & Health
One of the first mainstream fields wearable tech found itself in is the fitness industry. Says Stephen T. Doyle, senior director of Strategic Health Management Solutions at UPMC Health Plan, “Devices that measure physical activity, heart rate, caloric expenditure and other biometric measures, often referred to as ‘wearable fitness technology,’ hold the promise of dramatically changing the face of the health care industry.” More recently, the benefits to health insurers are being explored, as wearables provide real-time, accurate data of a user’s health behaviors. Of course, the concerns of privacy and protection of personal information are increasingly relevant, and device manufacturers and health insurers need to work together to mitigate any risks.
A few specialized wearable devices related to the health industry are proving promising, suggesting innovators have more than fitness monitoring in mind. Skyn, a wearable biosensor from BACtrack, monitors blood-alcohol content in real time. Currently only a prototype, Skyn looks similar to other watch-style trackers and measures the ethanol that escapes the body as it processes alcohol. On the diabetes front, rumor has it that Google may be trying to patent a contact lens that overlays data into your field of vision with the purpose of measuring glucose levels.
Interacting with Tech
Samsung has already patented their own smart contact lens, but their design has a very different purpose. Overlaying internet search results onto an individual’s field of vision and allowing them to discreetly take photos, this device could see smartphones radically evolving as the need for screens disappears. Of course, since similar technology introduced with Google Glass wasn’t well received, our world might not yet be ready for Samsung’s genius.
Another wearable novelty, SubPac is a tactile bass system that lets listeners feel music – without actually standing in the middle of a dance club damaging their hearing. Worn as a backpack or pressed against the back of a chair, low frequencies are transferred to the body via vibrations through the SubPac’s membrane. Says John Alexious, SubPac co-founder, “Any time you’re hearing sound, whether you’re in a music environment, a film environment, an auto environment, you’re going to be physically immersed in that as well.”
And almost too ridiculous to believe, though very necessary in my opinion, Cornetto has created wearable tech commitment rings. For partners suspicious of ‘Netflix infidelity’ these rings connect to streaming services and use near-field communication and app connection to block selected shows from being watched if the rings aren’t in proximity of one another.
(Infographic discovered via: Visual.ly)
Unfortunately, wearables haven’t always met with the stringent requirements of the stylish. Plasticy watch straps reminiscent of ‘80s chic, bulky pedometers that have to be clipped onto belts, and sci-fi-style glasses… Fear not, fashion has watched with dismay and finally stepped in. If the wearable tech jewelry and watches now available from designers such as Fossil, Gemio, and Opening Ceremony aren’t enough, TechStyle NYC promises to combine fashion with tech innovation. With scheduled events in New York and Los Angeles, you can now explore high fashion as well as top technology, all rolled into one.
By Jennifer Klostermann