Since human inception, wearable technologies of the time have been utilised to grant protection – for instance, battle armour – or to convey status, wealth or intelligence through watches and glasses, for example. However, in the digital age, computing and electronic technologies are now smaller and more accessible, and our relationship with technology is becoming more personalised. No longer is technology now just at the tip of our fingertips, we are now wearing it. As such, wearable technology now refers to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories that can be comfortably worn on the body. Wearable technologies are the up and coming technologies; 90 million wearable devices are set to ship in 2014 and the market is set to be worth $19 billion by 2018.
The wearable technology sphere has so far focused on products from Samsung and Google who have respectively made smart watches and the Google Glass wearable computer. However, the first ever London Wearable Technology Show showcased a range of new wearable technologies from self-empowered healthcare devices to gaming tools. Here's a review of our favourite three wearable technologies from the show:
Glofaster Smart Running Jacket
Exercising and lifestyle tracking devices were prominent at the show and Glofaster’s smart running jacket is the latest contender in the health-conscious wearable technology market. Designed for running, the jacket uses Bluetooth technology to connect with an App on the user’s smartphone and users can set targets, such as distance and heart rate. The jacket will then calculate how fast they are going in relation to chosen targets, and will light up to reflect the users pace – the brighter the light, the better pace. The lights will make the users visible, subsequently protecting them in the dark. The waterproof jacket, which featured on Dragon’s Den and is designed by an ex Abercrombie and Fitch designer, can also sync with the user’s music to complement their pace and keep them motivated. Upon release, the jacket is set to be priced at £99 with 10% of profits going to the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.
One of the latest offerings in the self-empowered healthcare wearable domain is a customised UV monitor, inspired by NASA UV technology. Wearers can set their personal skin colour and sensitivity and SunFriend monitors their UVA and UVB exposure throughout the day. When all the LEDs light up, one has had their safe amount of sun for the day. The monitor is designed to enable users to reduce their skin damage whilst being able to optimise their vitamin D exposure. Being waterproof to 3m, SunFriend is suitable for the beach. SunFriend will be available for around £40 when it is released in May and a more advanced version, which links to a smartphone and displays information via Bluetooth, is expected in early 2015.
The Intelligent Headset combines 3D audio, GPS and head-tracking to provide game changing augmented reality, contextual awareness and location-based information. For example, if someone was lost in a city, and facing a public monument, they could tap the headphones to find out both where they were and what they could see. As well as providing the complete surround sound experience, the headphones can also be used to execute commands in a game, such as passing the football. It is hoped that the Intelligent Headset will be used to enhance the senses; for instance, for the blind. Wearers could, for example, be fed information about their location and their proximity to both other people and objects. It is anticipated a range of complimentary Apps will also be developed to educate, entertain and inform Intelligent Headset wearers.