Wearable technology is the newest frontier attempting to break out into the mainstream. Sure, headphones have long been commonplace, but the Bluetooth ear-piece was met with scorn, people think Google Glass is a joke, many are skeptical about the Apple iWatch, and cell phone holsters are super dorky. So is there anything out there that’s both practical, fashionable, and comfortable?
In the case of activity trackers like Fitbit, a third of people stop using them within six months hinting at the idea that novelty is the selling point of most wearables. But it’s not inconceivable we are on the cusp of a dramatic shift in wearable technological, as more and more people will begin to feel not only less self-conscious, but even comfortable donning their newest gadgets. As our demands increase and our attentions spans decrease, technology innovators need to find new ways to captivate our changing minds. For wearable technology, this means “reducing the time between intention and action,” says Google CEO Larry Page.
By increasing uniqueness of each accessory and having specific functions (instead of trying to be all-encompassing, like our phones have become), new tech companies can break into as yet untapped markets. Here are a few of the trends in wearable tech, from international companies to small startups looking to create the next big thing.
- Pebble Watch – The Pebble Watch has set the bar for what a smart watch should be. It’s customizable, relatively affordable, has an extensive battery life, and is compatible with your iPhone or Android, which can remain in your pocket when you get a text or phone call.
- LG G Watch R – Like the idea of a smart watch but want to retain the classic watch aesthetic? The G Watch R is doing just that, melding new and old. The watch can tell you the weather, traffic, directions, and keep you in the social media loop. This sleek watch is compatible with Android only.
- MOTA Ring – If watches and bracelets are too intrusive for you, the more inconspicuous MOTA Ring vibrates when you have a notification, whether an email, text, or social media update.
- Recon Snow 2 – The Snow 2 is a device made specifically for skiers and snowboarders. It is placed inside your goggles and can measure speed and altitude, analyze airtime and track stats, but also keep you connected with other boarders so you don’t get lost. It can also let you view text messages and send social media updates while on the slopes and control music as well.
- Fineck – While many fitness trackers wrap around your wrist, the Fineck goes around, you guess it, your neck. In addition to measuring steps and activities, it aim is to help measure and improve posture and get rid of neck pain. It’s still looking to get funding through Kickstarter, but may be a worthy investment, particularly given our culture’s growing addiction to staring down at smart phones.
- Polo Tech Shirt – This shirt, which debuted earlier this year, is designed to measure respiration, heart rate, and stress level. A small black box attached to the shirt streams this information to your phone or tablet.
- Hexoskin Biometric Shirt – An even more versatile shirt is the Hexoskin. It measures heart rate, breathing rate and volume, activity, and sleep. You can access the data with the Hexoskin app on your phone, or get the raw data online to use with your own analytics software.
- Sensoria Fitness Socks – These socks are designed for runners looking to better measure their workout. They count steps, track distance, measure calories burned, and more. The socks use a metal anklet to connect to an app on your phone to compare stats and improve form.
- Smart Hoodie: This hoodie is designed to text someone at the swipe of the hood or rolling up the sleeves. While this product is still in the design phase, it opens the doors for the possibilities of where wearable tech will go.
The future is unwritten as far as wearable tech is concerned. Even Ralph Lauren is looking into high tech purses. The exciting new field of wearables is one to keep in mind as your pursuing your computer science or technology degree.