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Wearable Technology: Revolutionizing the Future

By Adaobi Rhema Oguejiofor

Nowadays, everything in the world has gone smart. From smart phones to smart houses, smart doors, and a number of other smart options in an evolving technological revolution. One of the innovations in this new wave of technology is one that is worn right on the body. This technology is known as the wearable technology and it is currently reshaping the daily lives and interactions of people all over the world by introducing devices like Google Glass, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Motiv Ring, and Oculus Rift. Wearable technology is one with a promise to revolutionize data access and by extension, the future.

Wearable technology, which is often called Wearables for short, make up a wide category that includes any device worn or attached to a user’s body. This technology is simply a general term for a group of electronic devices physically worn by individuals in order to track, analyze and transmit personal data. They include health and fitness trackers, smart watches, as well as other devices designed to be worn throughout the day for different purposes. They have become increasingly popular over the past few years, as ZipDo’s estimate revealed that in 2020 about 590.1 million people use wearable devices globally.

However, the basic idea of Wearables is not new because even a normal wristwatch is a simple kind of Wearable. These current highly technological Wearables can connect with ones existing devices, like computers and smartphones, which means that they can do a lot of interesting and dynamic things.

Wearable technology is evolving into an important category of the Internet of things (IoT) with life-changing applications in medicine and other fields. These smart IoT devices have the ability to track biometric data ranging from heart rate to sleep patterns. The growth of mobile networks, high-speed data transfer and mini microprocessors have enabled the development of this technology. Wearables are also becoming popular consumer technologies in the gaming and fashion industries.

Devices from this technology could be worn, embedded in fabric, accessories, in medical devices or tattooed directly onto the skin. The most sophisticated examples of Wearable technology include artificial intelligence (AI) hearing aids, Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens and a holographic computer in the form of a Virtual Reality (VR) headset. An example of a less complex form of Wearable technology is a disposable skin patch with sensors that transmit patient data wirelessly to a control device in a healthcare facility.

Wearables can be categorized into health and fitness Wearables, gaming Wearables, travel Wearables, educational Wearables and fashion Wearables, among others. These Wearables are specially designed to meet specific needs of users in specific industries and areas of life.

With regards to the popularity of the technology, fitness activity trackers were the first big wave of Wearable technology to catch on with consumers followed by the wristwatch becoming a screen, as well as more robust mobile applications being added. Now, Bluetooth headsets, smart watches and web-enabled glasses all allow people to receive data from Wi-Fi networks.

Primarily, Wearable technology operates by incorporating microprocessors, batteries and connectivity to the internet so that the collected data can be synced with other electronics, such as mobile devices or laptops. Wearables are implanted with built-in sensors that keep track of bodily movements, provide biometric identification or assist with location tracking. For instance, activity trackers or smart watches which are the most common types of Wearables, come with a strap that wraps around the user’s wrist to monitor their physical activities or vitals throughout the day.

Some Wearables use remote smart sensors and accelerometers to track movements and speed, and some use optical sensors for measuring heart rate or glucose levels. A common factor among these technology Wearables is the fact they all monitor data in real time.

Over time, the advancement of Wearables has been a welcomed tool for the insurance, healthcare and sports industries for some significant reasons. These reasons range from encouraging healthier habits to optimizing physical performance and industries have reaped the numerous benefits that come with Wearable technology. Among the benefits of Wearables include improving healthcare. The healthcare industry experiences the biggest benefit from Wearable technology. Patients who wear these smart devices can measure information like body temperature and blood pressure, which is then forwarded to their medical team in real-time. If something is wrong then doctors have a quicker way to accurately diagnose and treat a patient. This makes the entire treatment process faster since doctors no longer have to run series of tests to determine an illness or disease.

Also, Wearables are beneficial as they provide more insights into sports and fitness performance. Professional athletes from all over the world can now maximize their training regimes using the biometric data captured through Wearable technology. Wearables also increase the productivity and health of workforces. These devices help enhance communication, track employee activity, boost job site safety measures and can improve the health and quality of life for a workforce because a healthier, happier workforce will then lead to higher rates of employee retention, saving companies a lot of money each year.

Wearable technology provides users with the ability to track their locations with GPS, and view text messages more quickly. Most of the devices that allow users to do this are hands free and portable, eliminating the need to take devices out of user’s pockets. They can help people with setting goals and tracking their progress toward them.

However, there are few challenges with these devices as they tend to have a fairly short battery life. Some Wearables, like the simpler Fitbit trackers can last for several days before requiring battery recharge but some of the more advanced Wearables like the Apple Watch, will only last for about a day. For some users, it can be a challenge to remember to regularly remove the wearable to charge it and as a result, a number of developers are looking into the possibility of wireless charging options that would eliminate the need to remove the device.

Another challenge is that some Wearables have been reported to measure data inaccurately on occasion. This can be especially dangerous when measuring data like heart rates. For individuals with heart conditions, this false reading could lead to overexertion and further health issues.

Wearable technologies are a technological revolution that opens the door to a new personal universe, which could shape the future for the better. While challenges like data privacy and battery life remain, the potential of Wearable technology to improve health, wellbeing, and even daily interactions is undeniable. As the world enters a new era of connectedness, where technology becomes even more personal, Wearable devices will undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping the future of human interaction and experience.