Technology All Around!

Abigail Lee
5 min readOct 23, 2020

Back in 1286, Salvino D’Armate, a 13th century Italian from Florence, created the first pair of eyeglasses. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had just created the first known piece of wearable technology in the world. Since then, the wearable technology industry has grown and evolved, and now can be considered one of the fastest-advancing sectors of the wider technology industry. In recent years, we have witnessed new, disruptive innovations like the Apple Watch, Airpods, Oculus Rift, and Fitbit shift long-established patterns of how people use data in their daily lives. And now we see wearable technology everywhere.

What is Wearable Technology?

Examples of Wearable Technology

First, let’s talk about what wearable technology even is! Wearable technology often referred to as “wearables”, can be defined as a category of electronic devices that can be worn on the body. As we can see in the photo above some examples include glasses, watches, or even implants. Most wearables use sensors to connect to its user and detect, analyze, and transmit information concerning the user’s body signals and/or ambient data.

Some of the most well-known types of wearable technology include smartwatches, head-mounted displays, and hearables.

Smartwatches

These are probably the most popular out of the three. These portable devices are worn on the wrist and provide much more information than the current time. It can track your heart rate, activities, and provide reminders throughout the day, like what day a new episode of The Good Place comes out. Much like a smartphone, a smartwatch has a touchscreen and several apps, that can display the weather, list stock prices, and display maps and directions.

Head-mounted displays

For the avid gamers out there, this probably sounds familiar, but for those who aren’t head-mounted displays are exactly what they sound like — computer displays that a user wears on their head. Some of the most popular examples include the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Google Glass. Most head-mounted displays can be classified into either virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).

VR headsets block out the entire world and fool the user’s brain into thinking that they are somewhere else completely.

AR headsets or smart-glasses enhance the real world by adding virtual components within our sight. This could include creating and manipulating holographic objects and diagrams, or allowing users to keep track of their statistics or the weather while engaging in other activities, like going on a hike or run.

Hearables

These are now one of the fastest emerging divisions of wearable technology, worn in the ear. The most famous examples of hearables are Apple’s Airpods, which allow users to listen to songs like WAP by Cardi B wirelessly!

Other examples of hearables are live translation tools, like the Wavelery Labs Pilot that can currently translate 20 languages and 40 dialects, and hearing aids that are designed to improve the hearing of those who have suffered hearing loss.

What will Wearable Technology Look Like in the Future?

Wearable technology is constantly improving and although nobody can predict the future, here are my own ideas on how wearable technology can improve and be implemented in the future.

Longer battery life

Nothing is more annoying than having to do something on a device, then it dying on you. Many wearables today have relatively short battery lives. As of now, lithium-ion batteries are the “go-to power source” for wearables, however as wearables become smaller and thinner the performance of these batteries declines.

Because of this, some companies are looking into using alternative battery sources. A common method is called energy harvesting, where a device can convert body heat, solar energy, or even movement into power. This idea is similar to how a person may use a stationary exercise bike with a motor to generate energy for a lightbulb.

Authentication

If you have ever stayed at the Walt Disney World Resort, you may know of MagicBands, a wrist-worn device that allows visitors to unlock the door to their hotel room, enter the theme park, check-in at FastPass entrances, and charge food and merchandise purchases to their hotel room. This is an example of how wearable technology has the potential to be used for authentication.

In the future, wearables may be responsible for unlocking your home or car, buying items at stores, and going to concerts. By speeding up a variety of processes in our daily lives, such as security clearances, the application of wearables to authentication can greatly change how humans interact with the world.

Medical Advancements

Some of the most popular wearables, like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, are geared towards helping users to improve their health and fitness. However, there are many companies that are working on how wearable technology can monitor and solve medical problems.

UVA-Developed Artificial Pancreas

For example, artificial pancreas systems are proving to be effective at monitoring blood sugar levels and automatically supply insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes.

Additionally, there have been many advancements in terms of prostheses. Imagine being able to feel again after years of feeling absolutely nothing. You would probably feel a great lack of sensation. In 2017, a team at the University of Utah combated this problem and was able to restore the sense of touch to amputees through a robotic arm.

Even now, scientists are working on bionic eyes that may restore the sense of sight to blind patients. In the future, prostheses will be extremely advanced and may even be able to fully restore our physical senses (sight, hearing, touch), and doctors may be able to supplement failing bodily systems with advanced technology.

Although wearable technology has improved greatly in the past few years, the journey is far from over. While the future is unclear, one thing is for sure in the next upcoming years' wearable technology will undergo monumental developments that will change the world we live in.

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Abigail Lee

High School Student. Innovator at The Knowledge Society. Passionate about medicine!