By Jonathan Weinberg, Spring Chicken Technology editor
If you’ve never heard of ‘wearable tech’, then you soon will.
You might have seen in the news that Apple has developed a smartwatch to monitor a person’s fitness, tell them their location and even make payments. But wearable technology doesn’t just mean a futuristic gadget on your wrist. For Spring Chicken readers, the advance of wearable tech can make a huge difference to health, well-being, safety and convenience. They can also give peace-of-mind to relatives and friends.
Wearables, as the name suggests, revolves around anything a person can wear attached to their body, on their body or even within their clothing or footwear. Often they are made to monitor something. For example, many items such as as pedometers and fitness trackers can tell how far someone has walked, how quickly they walked a certain distance and how many calories that walk burned.
They often clip to clothing and are a great tool to check just how active you are being and encourage you to be more active by showing how many steps you are taking each day.
Wearables are also transforming healthcare.
For example, coming soon to Spring Chicken is Live!y, a watch with a pedometer and an emergency button to summon help if needed.
It will come with various sensors to attach to items such as pillboxes, the fridge or a front door. If these aren’t opened when expected, the watch knows and sends a message to a relative or carer. Generally wearables work easily and intuitively with only a few buttons or a touchscreen.
Another technological advance called The Internet of Things will also work alongside wearables. The IoT is where ordinary appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, kettles and coffee machines can be controlled directly from a smart device such as a phone or watch.
But this could ultimately extend to control using a sensor placed nearby the appliance, so when a person walks near the kettle, for example, it instantly turns on. This could make a massive difference to the daily lives of those who struggle to press fiddly buttons or switches.
Wearable technology is also revolutionising the way we interact with doctors, clinicians and medical support staff.
Doctors can now diagnose patients without them even being in the same room, thanks to technology worn by the sufferer at certain times of the day, or even 24/7. Using the internet, these send readouts of a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and activity level to a clinic for checking. Any pattern changes are detected quickly and could ultimately save lives.
Wearables can also identify signs of a fall, a person not moving or simply help establish verbal contact with the wearer when they can’t get to a phone. The NHS’s Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh believes they represent a huge opportunity for older adults and for the NHS>>>.
But wearables can be fun too.
Many companies are now designing clothing with sensors and wiring inside the material that can communicate with smart devices for tracking or kooky uses such as warming them up on command.
It’s likely we will all own at least one piece of wearable technology within the next five years.
But what kind of wearable device would benefit your daily life? Why not post a comment and tell us what you’d like to see invented.