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March 2017
Wearable Tech

Beyond smart phones and wireless headsets!

Wearable tech is beginning to catch on. That is exciting and also a little depressing but in this age of information the data won’t help you if you can’t see it when you need it. With a few common apps most smart phones can track your location, course and speed with GPS. Allow you to communicate with voice, text and email. Even monitor your physical condition via pressure and temperature sensors. But this information may not be available to you while you are driving, operating equipment, skiing, biking, running or a variety of everyday activities.

The Hushme private conversation mask is an example of wearable tech that got it wrong.
In the old days we measured an athlete’s performance in the forty yard dash solely by time. Now an array of sensors in the clothing can tell how much power was in their first stride, fourth stride or twentieth stride. Heart rate, breathing, temperature, blood oxygen levels and more for each millisecond of the event are transmitted to the coaches in real time. Electrically conductive tattoos can monitor temperature, heart rate, blood chemistry and potentially store data. Just about every human activity can be monitored. Even sexual intercourse, (sorry no images for that one please) can be monitored by wearable tech.

From agriculture to warehousing forward thinking industries are taking advantage of modern wearable tech. In the medical industry they not only monitor but treat patients with wearable tech. Skin patches are becoming the preferred way to administer certain medications.

Getting it Wrong
Design remains one of the biggest issues for wearable tech. Wearable’s that range somewhere between ridiculous and hideous won’t entice even the most “geeky” people to use, let alone purchase the device regardless of how well it works. Virtual Reality goggles can provide a thrilling experience but you had better be sitting down or you’ll trip over the coffee table or walk into the wall.

One example of getting it wrong is the Hushme, mouth mask or “personal acoustic device”. It not only silences chatty co-workers but it makes them look like the bad guy in a science fiction movie. It even comes with an app that provides “masking sounds” one of which is Darth Vader.

Getting it right
SnapChat Spectacles is an example of getting it right. Designed to work with the popular SnapChat, app these sunglasses not only have a good quality camera built in but they are stylish, (at least for the younger crowd). At about $130.00 each they have sold out so you may have a hard time getting a pair at that price right now. Snap Inc. is working to increase the supply as fast as they can.

SnapChat Specatacles is an example of wearable tech that got it right!

Project Jacquard is Google and Levi Strauss & Co. joining forces to produce a “smart jacket”, The technology is woven into the fabric so it looks like a normal Levi’s jacket. With a brush of the sleeve you can control you smart phone through the Bluetooth connection. And the jacket is washable too; just remember to remove the Bluetooth cuff first. The jacket is expected to be available later this year and retail for around $350.00.

There have been a few successes in the wearable industry like the Fitbit and several Smart Watches but the overall industry is just getting its collective act together. After years of floundering around, inflated expectations and overselling videos it looks like wearable tech is finally making products that are both useful and appealing. The internet of Things is about to get bigger.

And remember always back it up!

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