“There isn’t an industry that isn’t becoming part of the technology industry. We are in a golden era for transformation.”
Paul Brody. Strategy leader; Technology Sector at EY
The world of wearables is at the start of what promises to be a period of a huge expansion. Wearables have become common in fields such as sports training and other endeavours including health care and clothing manufacturing. Products range from taking a bracelet that helps detect and destroy cancer cells to holographic nail polish, to haute couture dresses that stab unwelcome suitors. Here are four products that are paving the way for the future in wearable tech.
#1. Quality of Life
While major tech companies such as Apple and Samsung have created apps and product that deal with health as a general issue by targeting a wide audience through various software solutions; smaller and newer companies are catering to specific audience; one being the elderly.
One of these companies is Playtabase. The company is one of the newest players in the market and is often described as the “Internet of Things” - blurring the lines between wearable tech and smart home systems. Muhammed Abdurrahman, co-founder of Playtabase, came up with the idea after his dad had had several strokes. Making things difficult for his dad to do day to day activities. Abdurrahman wanted to create a new way for his dad to control his world.
Essentially, Reemo is a wristband used to interact with your environment using natural gestures. Just plug the device you want to control into their Smartplug, attach the receiver next to the device you want to control and it’s as simple as pointing and waving your hand at the device you want to control, and the device responds to your gesture. “We focused on making our gesture set small and memorable,” Abdurrahman said.
Reemo relieves strenuous activity and frustration of solving everyday technical problems for the elderly. Reemo isn’t meant to be a techie device for early adopters, however. Abdurrahman said it’s intended to help the elderly easily control the appliances in their homes. This means that caretakers will be free of small jobs to help around the house, and seniors can continue living in the comfort of their own home, instead of being put into a care facility.
Wearable tech products like Reemo are fundamentally improving the way people are interacting with their surrounding and shifts the paradigm between mobility and accessibility.
#2 - Accessibility for Everyone
“Wearable technology is truly a new frontier for people with disabilities,” says Dana Marlowe, a Principal Partner at Accessibility Partners, LLC.
Tech developer Krispian Lawrence sees both the strengths and drawbacks of the white cane, the first tool to aid the visually impaired. “The cane has social significance. At the same time, it has two major defects: it can’t [guide] you from one place to another, and it can’t orient you.” Lawrence is CEO of Ducere Technologies, and was founded in 2011 with his colleague, Anirudh Sharma. Born and still living in India, Lawrence states that he has had “the unfortunate distinction of [living in] the blind capital of the world,” so he sees the pros and cons of the white cane first hand. Started out as a simple impulse solution to help the visually impaired to navigate their worlds better is now a reality. Lechal, Hindu translation for “take me there”, is a footwear that will supplement the cane by providing navigation through vibrations in the wearer’s feet.
The insoles or shoes, whichever you choose to buy, have an interactive haptic-based navigational system, which guides the user towards their destination through simple vibrations in the footwear. Designed to be hands free and audio free when using the Smartphone App via voice control. The smartphone app pairs with the Lechal products via Bluetooth. The user interacts with the app and can set a destination. The phone’s GPS is used to calculate location data and the directions are conveyed to the user via haptics in the footwear. Other features include a fitness feature, tag locations, set destinations, a start/stop/pause navigation all by a simple tap of the foot.
Will Seymour from the Future Foundation consulting group points out that wearable and mobile technology is already giving the disabled a newfound freedom to communicate and navigate. “Allowing someone to do more with their body is certainly a redefinition of what it means to have a disability. Performance boundaries are now seen as flexible; the body’s weaknesses as negotiable,” he says. This may change how society as a whole sees and understands disability.
Lechal is an example of how wearable technology is eradicating the boundaries between assistive technology and the consumer technology market. People with all bodies will be drawn to technology as they sensors get more powerful and interfaces get more creative. This new type of technology will enhance senses, monitor health and ease interactions with the environment. These devices could possibly shift our views on bodies and their limits, as they become more integrated into the future of everyday life.
#3. Keeping You Safe.
We live in a world where caution is necessary.
In India, according to official statistics, about 60,000 children go missing every year. In 2006 the country was ranked sixth on the list of most kidnappings, behind countries such as Haiti, Brazil and Mexico. However in 2013, kidnaps increased, and around 4,000 cases of abductions were registered in the province of Assam in 2013 alone. By 2013, India was ranked second on the list, right behind Mexico. “In 2010, the state registered a total of 3,250 kidnappings which was followed by 3,785 cases in 2011. Subsequently in 2012, numbers went up to 3,812. It is estimated that almost 4,113 kidnappings occurred” said a police official in Assam.
Walking around the city alone late at night can be scary – especially if you’re a woman. Every woman deserves to feel safe, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing. Now there are wearable-tech products that help you stay safe, and stay notified (in style). One brand in particular that we love is Stiletto Charms. This wearable tech item helps prevents potential attackers by notifying your friends and family that you are in potential danger. The Stiletto Charm is capable of transforming any accessory you choose to wear.
Stiletto contains an omni-directional microphone, vibration motor and alert speaker. The Stiletto provides an automated voice assistance that communicates critical information for you even when you can’t get to your phone or are unable to speak, even when your mobile has no data service! The tech product helps alert your friends and family as well as the police when you need them most – whenever and wherever, especially when you’re phone is buried in your bag. The device emergency alerts and sends real time location updates. Even if your emergency contacts don’t have a smartphone, they will receive and review Stilettos alerts – even on a landline! Even if it’s a false alarm, it is super simple to cancel the notification. If you are a Smartphone user, within the Stiletto app, you can easily plan routes and share them with your contacts so that they receive automatic location alerts should you leave your planned route unexpectedly.
Personal security is no ones business but your own. The Stiletto Charm is a stylish wearable tech product for when you’re travelling in an unfamiliar country, going on a date with someone new, for students studying late at the campus, night shift workers, or returning home from a night out. This wearable tech product is like a hidden super power really.
The future of wearable tech will be bringing you home safe and sound.
#4. Wearable Tech isn’t just for humans
Now this last one isn’t necessarily a wearable-tech product that will change the world for the better, but if you’re anything like me, you always want the best for your pet.
Pets can’t talk, but they can communicate. In particular, dogs show you how their feeling, whether it be the way they wag their tails, how they raise their paws or droop their head. These are simple identifiers of mood. But I know there are days when I’m at work and think “I wish my dog could message me to let me know how his day is going,” especially when he’s been sick. And I know i’m not the only one. There are now wearables that help with my need of wanting to know how my pet is. Wearables that monitor your pet and give you a comprehensive profile identifying their health, behavioural issues, activity during the day and overall taking the guesswork out of figuring out what’s wrong.
Established in 2004 by dog lover and innovator, David Gibson, Heyrex not only builds a closer bond between man and his best friend, but has the potential to identify a number of medical and psychological conditions that could go undetected. The monitor fits onto the collar, building a profile of your pet’s behaviour. Recording aspects of your pet’s activity in real time, then transferring the information to you every time your pet comes within range. The monitor collates your pet’s behaviour: exercise levels, scratching, quality of sleep, and other behavioural and health issues. You receive automatic notifications when behaviours change, improvements or indications of a health problem, something i’m sure a lot of pet owners would love to know. You can even share the information from Heyrex with your veterinarian.
There is an estimation of 80 million dogs and 96 million cats in the U.S. alone. That’s over $60 billion spent on them this year! “Pet food and product trends tend to follow human food and product trends,” states Bob Vetere, the president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association. The belief that pets have the power to improve their owner’s lives, and that humans are happier and healthier the more time they spend with their pets is a clear indication as to why we spend copious amounts of money on them as we do on ourselves. They’re practically their owners fur baby, and due to the number of people wanting what is best for their pet, in the past two years there has been in a rise in tech products for pets. Paul Mann, CEO of Fetch! Pet Care, a professional pet-sitting and dog-walking service notes that wearables can help owners keep track of their pets’ activities, monitor their daily exercise and even their food consumption. Wearables are perfect for certain species who are proned to have some sort of bone or joint problem, great for getting to know your new pup or pets who need more attention as they age.
If humans find products that works for them, they will often look for and create or demand the same for their pets. This certainly seems to be the case with wearable technology devices.
image from forbes.com