Wearable technology is part of a category of electronic devices which can be worn by humans in their daily lives. They can be worn as accessories, embedded within clothes, tattooed onto the skin and even planted within a human body. They are gadgets which have a range of practical uses and are powered by enhanced microprocessors. The devices have been adopted rapidly and have been placed at the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT). The market of these wearables is growing continuously and it is booming even ten years after their launch. The original wearable was the Fitbit which is still popular today.
Globally, wearable devices have reached around 85 million units in 2019. This figure is expected to be doubled in the next three years, which is an impressive feat for wearable tech. At the turn of the last century, phones have bridged many communicative gaps in innovative ways. The way we carry messages now through our bodies is a new thing that has transformed space and time. In the last twenty years, digital devices have changed all around us and have transformed from containers to bodily extensions. Humans are synonymous with their smartphones and their virtual headsets, all of which come with enhanced capabilities. Beyond pre-1900s rhetoric, our languages have changed to reflect this transition as well.
One with Our Technology:
Today, humans are integrated with their technology. We are one with our pacemakers, implants and limbs and since 2018, we have been making strides in the field. Our biomarker breathalysers now fit into our smartphones and are able to detect early diseases. A team from Japan recently came up with a device which reads the vital signs of your body and displays them onto your skin. We also have come up with sensors which sit on our teeth and can track our diet processes in real time while notifying our doctors.
Is it really a surprise that technology has become so integral to us? Our gyms, homes and supermarkets all come with their own “beeps” or “alerts” which come from a wearable making its claim. We are at the center of new categories of interface mechanisms which have brought paradigm changing fundamentals with them. This shift showcases how we interact with technology that has become an essential part of us. But is it enough that we recognize it? Or do we have to effectively leverage the growing landscape of wearables to see if the benefit us adequately?
New Wearables: Smarter and Edgier:
Tracking your everyday activities by using wearables is now a part of daily routine. Around 60 million Americans use a wearable device at least once a month and these range from smart watches to fitness trackers and even tech glasses. As technology gets more innovative, the wearables become smarter and edgier. Engineers and designers are always looking for interesting ways to make a product more popular, whether it is integrating a smart microchip or adding to the accessibility of UI. There are now innovations like smart tattoos which feature a skin interface that enables users to have control from their smartphones and tablets.
Serving as statements of personal style choices, there are now jean jackets with touchscreen functionality. All of these devices and their practical use are showcasing how much humanity is taken away by their functions.
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The Human Reaction:
How we, as humans, are interacting with new tech is connected to our cognitive processes to a large extent. Designers are using their abilities to create amazing UI and unpredictable patterns are emerging on an international scale. The collective response to it is people orienting themselves by using their cognitive processes as a “fallback” mechanism. An analysis of this displays that the relationship between wearables and their acceptance is not entirely pure and issue free. Technology is considered to be both limited and oppressive by humanity and these contradictory beliefs were first made public in the 1930s but are still being addressed in 2019.
Good and Bad Technology:
Today, when you ask people about wearables and tech, their responses are divided. A survey conducted found that women reported that their Fitbit made them feel “naked” (45%). Around the same number of them said that the activities they performed were a waste. Some of them felt a lesser motivation to exercise (22%). But there was a pressure to achieve daily targets, and 59% said that their daily routines were controlled by Fitbit.
The illusion that technology is “perfect” almost seems shattered now. But there are industries where wearable technology is already proving to be useful. In sports and healthcare, biometric tracking devices are monitoring athletes’ performance and prosthetics are helping people’s mobility. Technology is becoming sophisticated and this can be either good or bad.
Ultimately, humans are going to accept the changes these wearables bring on a fuller scale, but as of now there is considerable weariness and concern about the future of wearable tech.