I think we are just beginning to see the start of the wearable technology trend.   And as time goes on more and more creative minds will find ways to make wearable technology a part of our daily lives.   It seems to me that the door was really opened by several key events to make this a reasonable reality: the devices are getting smaller and smaller, the technology is getting more reliable, and finally the introduction of wifi and Bluetooth technology.

Sony Walkman

This design could be strapped to the belt or put into a pocket while the previous design was worn on the chest and a stethoscope style set of headphones were used. The next style was even smaller and silver in color.

Anytime we can remove the electrical cord from the equation there becomes a wonderful freedom from that chain to the wall called the data cable or electrical cord.   It is easy to see how the cell phone has metamorphed from a giant heavy walkie talkie looking device with a large antenna poking out from the top to the sleek smart phones that don’t just do phone calls.   They are actually small handheld computers that allow us to play games, keep track of business and personal data, take photos as well as keep communication going.   I am still learning what my smart phone can do, and I am sure that I will never fully realize its amazing potential.   You have to realize that I bought it because it was a mobile telephone, and not for any of the other wonderful features it offers.

When I was in high school the first signs of wearable technology coming to market were apparent with the digital wrist watches that had alarms and timers along with some that had calculators.   That was a big deal in school.   Everyone was afraid that the kids with the calculator watches would cheat in math class.   Now I am told that the students use calculators in the classroom on a regular basis, which for me could be an additional blog topic.   We also had the new wearable tape player aka Sony Walkman.   Only the coolest of kids had these awesome devices.   They were very expensive and kept getting smaller and sleeker with each new design concept.   Now tape cassettes are something you find at a garage sale along with the old Sony Walkman.

Just one of the many kinds of light sports shoes available now.

Just one of many kinds of lighted sports shoes available now.

So as the devices become smaller, they gain a broader target of  markets like athletics and fitness.   Wearable music player systems such the iPod and other mpgs players, the pedometer that can be attached to one’s clothing, and even tennis shoes for our children that flash lights when they take a step are all targeted at having an enhanced athletic experience.   I was even told that Nike had shoes that could be monitored by one’s cell phone to help gage one’s physical activity. So as we see these cell phones and other devices get smaller it becomes not just something in one’s pocket, but also a fashion statement.   This started with the headsets and earpieces.   At first, they looked like aviation gear and then changed into the small earpieces available in a variety of styles and colors to suit the wearer’s personal fashion.   But not everyone liked wearing the earpieces, and now we are starting to see the wrist watch style/bracelet wearable pieces as well as the famed Google Glasswear and the Go Pro cameras that people have been attaching to themselves.   It’s clear that the freedom to be able to use technology and still have free hands to work or play has become very important, and I think this will guide the future of wearable technology.

The motion picture industry has been using wearable technology for over 20 years to collect data to put into a computer for 2D and 3D computer animation.   An amazing example of this is the creation of the character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy movies.   This technology is referred to as motion capture where the actor wears sensors.   Live entertainment as well as the film industry is starting to use wearable technology.   We are starting to see performing groups that wear lighted costumes and perform in the dark to create unique settings for their on stage performances for example Light Wire Theater seen on America’s Got Talent (2012) while other groups such as party goers to events such as Burning Man and Faerieworlds are wearing lights to enhance their outdoor party experience.   The power sources for these mobile lights are lasting longer and are becoming more reliable and cost effective especially with the use of the Fiber Optic and LED lights as opposed to the old fashioned lighted bulbs.   And these wearable fashions are not just for fun but they are also being used for safety gear such as for night time cyclists agoogle-glass1nd dog walkers.

I wonder what kind of technology is currently being worked on in high tech laboratories and family garages.   Will we see in the near future clothing or wearable technology that helps us regulate body temperature, monitor health conditions, aid those with disabilities, or a holo-emitter style A.I. that accompanies us on our daily activities such as work, shopping, or hiking?   The sky is the limit, then again…..maybe someone will invent some wearable technology that will allow us to fly.   Wait a minute….there is that Yves Rossy guy with that wearable set of jet wings…. So maybe the limit is past the sky somewhere when it comes to wearable technology.

G.Winkler © 2013
Cumulus Technology – www.WeAreTechnology.com

For more information about some of the topics touched upon in this article, please check out the links below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23787743
http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-iwatch-concept-design-2013-8
http://faerieworlds.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-emitting_diode
http://www.lightsforalloccasions.com/c-88-wearable-lights.aspx
http://www.impactlab.net/2007/04/28/yves-rossy-photo-gallery-of-the-flying-man/
http://www.burningman.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_capture
http://mashable.com/category/wearable-tech/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmR0AvgY8aM