Georgina Bradbury

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What is the future of wearable technology?

Wearable technology is an undeniable trend and many brands such as Nike, Apple, Samsung and Google are all bringing out products to satisfy consumers growing awareness and demand for new products.

A lot recently has been publicised about smartwatches in particular due to the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch and the new Apple iWatch- does this mean the future of wearable technology is all about wrist based devices? Can wearable technology cross over from being an fashion accessory to being a functioning part of our everyday lives? What do you think will happen in the future of this industry?

  • Oct 21 2013: If the imaginings of science fiction writers is prophetic... technology will be wearing us.
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      Oct 23 2013: Well said.
      Technology has a history of being developed to serve us, but we end up serving it.
      (In the Old Testament this was called "idolatry")
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    Oct 26 2013: There are multiple aspects to this question. One question is what wearable technology will be used for. That cannot be discussed in one post, one thread, one web site, or one century. Here are some ideas I came across: http://www.businessinsider.com/future-of-wearable-technology-2013-5?op=1.

    Another question is how people will interact with devices. At some point, keyboard was the way (I guess, inspired by the typewriter machine). Then mice came along. Then touchscreens. The next step, I've heard, is voice. Devices become smaller and smaller. They consume less and less power and can afford to stay on for hours. Speech recognition software improves. Now seems to be the time when it is possible to make small devices that will be always on and listening, waiting for a key command like "OK, Glass".

    I'm very skeptical about it and would like to know other's opinions. I see several issues:

    1. Privacy. One thing is poking finger into a touch screen in a public place, the other is talking to the device. Wouldn't people look like lunatics talking to themselves all the time?

    2. How practical is it? Compared to poking an icon, sending and processing a voice command seems to take a lot more time, even with the best processing speed and the best voice recognition accuracy.

    3. Did I mention privacy? Currently NSA *only* scans our emails and phone conversations. With wearable devices always on and listening, they will scan EVERYTHING people say, even to themselves.

    Any thougts about this trend?
    • Oct 26 2013: You've brought up the absolute key points of wearable technology, but I honestly think that what may dominate over your points is the consumer itself.

      Take for example phones, they are increasing in power and merging with the newer technologies and everyone today, especially youths, are replacing their phones every 1 to 3 years. It is simply a must in this day and age, it is the trendy thing to do and everyone wants to be caught up with the newest technology. I don't see this stopping any time soon.

      If such is the case, phones will probably end up as some sort of holographic screen, which may be implemented onto clothing.
      Or, if the physical form retains its shape and if you could do anything with just your voice, then I'm sure people would have some sort of microphone in or attached to their collar so they could activate anything they wanted with ease on their phone.

      As you said it goes into many different areas, but the main point is if it will make things easier for the generations to come (especially for things such as social networking and taking pictures) then I'm sure it will be implemented in clothing and it will be a casual thing. In the sense that it will become a part of all of the newer generations lifestyles.

      In a way it seems nice, the beginner steps to that futuristic land we can imagine the one with floating cars and the likes.
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        Oct 26 2013: I agree. In the link that I posted, there is a good analogy with a watch. Clocks went from an expensive device installed only on city towers to something we can carry in our pocket and, eventually, on our wrist. They've become fashion items and symbols of status. Same is happening with other gadgets. Yet, I know many people who do not wear a watch - they simply don't need it and find it inconvenient to wear one.
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    Nov 5 2013: I don't believe that wearable technology has a future unless it evolves to seamlessly overlay with the physical/real world. For want of a better expression, I guess I'm talking about a "wearable augmented reality" or perhaps even an immersive technology.

    At the moment there is too much of a disconnect between the virtual and the real. This disconnect means that if your attention is focused on the virtual, you are not paying attention to the physical and vice versa. Even if you are prepared to accept this disconnect and its implications, the law is not. This perspective is evidenced by the fact that wearing google glass while driving is now classed as a driving violation in several countries (I never really understood why this came as a big surprise to anyone).

    When I talk about a wearable augmented reality, I'm not talking about a clever way to have virtual and physical worlds diiscretely visible in the same field of view. I'm talking about a technology that merges the two and allows synergies to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

    So I envisage a world where wearable technology is not seen as a potential contributor to accidents, but rather as a means to reduce accidents. A world where wearing the technology will reduce your insrance premium or perhaps a world in which it becomes illegal to drive without augmented reality.

    I appreciate that google glass sells itself as "augmented reality", but at this point it has never been more true that "the map is not the territory".

    Until technology provides us with a more seamless means by which we can merge two maps and then get in and walk around, we're pretty much just finding more technically sophisticated ways of strapping a smartphone to our body.

    At the moment I don't see wearable technology as any great radical innovation set to change the world, more a set of incremental innovations designed to guarantee revenue streams.

    Bah Humbug and all that.
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    Oct 27 2013: Wearable technology can be for more than social interactions and entertainment. Think of all the health related wearable technology we could develop instead! We have heart rate monitors in watches, headbands that collect data on your sleep, insulin pumps, limb prosthetics, etc. I believe our clothing will also adhere to technology. Imagine a sleeve that fits snug around your arm that helps you keep in check your inner body functions? Good bye blood exams. Just look at your underarm and see how your blood pressure is. Maybe check your unfinished grocery list as well. Or a wrist band that knows when our body enters in crisis (we panic, adrenaline kicks in) and it gives us the option to ask for assistance or help. Heck, I remember watching a commercial that sold panic buttons you could wear around you neck; why not your wrist?

    Now that I see this much technology around me, I find all those deranged sci-fi ideas to be not so deranged anymore. I'm starting to sound like a sci-fi novelist. Next thing you know, we will have things implanted in our bodies to augment ourselves... Hold on...
  • Oct 25 2013: My concern about wearable or other type of gadgets is that we outsource too much thinking to them. Computers/robots are great but the more we rely on them the more we get used to not doing the functions they do - storing information, matching data, calculate, translate... To some extent this can be very useful but beyond a certain point I think comfort takes over us and instead of aiding our thought processes having all these services at hand (or on hand, literally) will only make the brain slack...

    Another thing is that I think the need to access the internet, being able to look up information, or communicate 24/7 is just an illusion, an artificially generated hype. Certain business areas may require this constant accessibility, but the majority of business processes, let alone private life, can go on perfectly well without individuals being invisibly tethered to each other all the time.

    As for the future, I like to think that people will reject wearable technology - I think our current gadgets already provide us with an unbearable amount of distraction, imagine what it will be like when even your watch beeps at the most inconvenient times. Also, maybe recent disclosures of certain spying/monitoring agencies will make people think twice if they want to attach a tracking device on their own body voluntarily.
  • Oct 23 2013: I think so, I am one of those people that think that what people are imagining in films, other people are in the process of creating in labs... We have the google glasses and now the watch, it's only a matter of time before our clothing is tech if it isnt somewhere already.
    Technology is great and makes human life much much easier, it's just a matter of using all this great tech for good rather than evil that we have allowed govts and businesses to use it for. i dont want a smart watch if im being tracked while using it without my knowledge or consent. And I dont want a smart hat if it can randomly create/prune neurons in my head from someone somewhere (this is in the making in AZ fyi for the military)
    Now we just have to work on humans making human life easier... This is supposed to be the age of longer lives and happier lives.
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    Oct 22 2013: I'd like to wear milk-made clothes in the future.It's so cool and eco-friendly :)

    http://visionblog.huaban.com/?p=2819
  • Nov 19 2013: You got it right Kareem.

    The key app as far as wearable technology is the direct connection brain-chip. An implanted terabyte (maybe petabyte) chip that can be read by the brain will store information that will be orderly, retrievable, and non-fading, unlike the diffuse and deteriorating brain. Memory is a prime asset and needs to be large. The operating system is finite and remains constant.

    Whenever this is developed, the field will explode. The approach to education will radically change, when the job of memorizing will be a simple transfer of data.

    One can daydream forever on the changes in the world thereafter. Happy dreams...
  • Nov 10 2013: We probably won't see much improvement than a wrist or eyeglass device until computers become non linear. For all the advances of algorithms in anticipating our needs and determining our likes and dislikes computing is linear and wearable sensors need to be non linear to hit the jackpot for changing wearable technology. What will become wearable technology is in my opinion only possible with a new operating system. Will this come from the big box software companies who have every interest in keeping the status quo, I doubt it. A new non linear operating system is years off.
  • Nov 5 2013: When cell phones came out, they looked really stupid and obvious. These days, you run the risk of looking funny if you never pull one out once in a while. Heck, people my grandparents' age insist they need the devices. That's how wearable technology will go, too. Eventually, it will become as boring and everyday as a cell phone.
  • Nov 5 2013: Wearable developers, technologists, designers, telecom and hardware providers are set to attend Wearable Computing Conference 2013 in New York next November 7, the biggest forum on wearable technologies on the East Coast.
  • Nov 1 2013: How far into the future would you like to know just a few years or thousands of years or maybe hundreds of thousands of years? Without some kind of time reference the answer could take volumes and you would not understand most of the answers anyway because the technology does not exist yet. It would be a pretty safe bet that none of us on this planet can even explain "all" of the technology going on in a single hair of our body.

    "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change"- Buddha

    Can you explain a woman carrying around another human for 9 months and then having it extracted, often cut out of her body. Can you imagine in your wildest night mares the amount of pain she must bear to carry around all that extra weight for most of a year. While you are thinking about that take into consideration that this parasite is sapping as much strength and nutrition from her body as it can possibly get. Then when it gets a big as a volley ball it starts kicking and punching to get out. Now the worst question of all, how do you get something the size of a volleyball through a hole the size of a tennis ball? Try to imagine that kind of pain but please do not throw up or pass out, neither will help. But the real question is this, why would you ever, ever, ever do that again?

    If you can give me a satisfactory answer to that question I will tell you anything you want to know about the future.
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      Nov 7 2013: Keith is right here..., right on the money ... Long live Keith W Henline! Hurray!
      • Nov 7 2013: Flattery will get you anywhere.... what the Hell Lejan I think I'll give Georgina a small peak, let's see it would be about about 2072 before it's commercially available although the technology will first be developed for spies and then the military.
        A very small patch of smart material will be grafted to your ear drum allowing a transmission to and from the drum.
        It does not take much imagination to realize the immense possibilities here. For instance you could communicate with anyone, anywhere, in any language. Anyone could be talking to or guiding you or teaching you whether you are awake or asleep and you would be the only one to know it or hear it. Ipods would be pretty much obsolete by now. Sorry, if I tell you anymore I am going to have to hunt you down and then k.. well you know the drill, so don't tell anyone. It will be our little million dollar secret.. If enough of you are interested I may tell you just a little more..
      • Nov 7 2013: TY Lejan, I was not aware of Babel Fish and I tried to look up a better schematic to see exactly how it works but found no more than the imaginary fictitious one for sci-fi. My idea could work with the known technology we have today ie nano tubes, bio-tech organ and skin growing and small transmitters. Once the transmission is established all kinds of audio techniques can be applied, translation, amplification, subliminal education, relaxation, healing just to name a few. Kids could be teaching college by the time they are 12. They could be educated before the street gangs in and out of school get a hold on them and in spite of their uneducated parents..
        Unfortunately there are just as many criminal uses. I could train an entire army and control them with subliminal messages and they would have no idea who I am or that they are under my control. Of course since I am also a hypnotist I could have done that anyway.
      • Nov 7 2013: OK very funny, the difference is my idea would work, for real. By then they would have figured out how to control it with the brain but meanwhile it could be controlled with computers. I was never much on fiction, even sci-fi. I am much more interested in technology that either works today or can be explained with mathematics and logic.
      • Nov 7 2013: Which they, the present day scientists that are capable of making the ear graft work or the private army? The private army is not unique, many intelligence organizations have used and are using that idea already, Israeli's are the best at it but the KGB, CIA, MI6, Interpol and what ever they are called in Germany have used it for years.
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          Nov 7 2013: I see.

          By the way the KGB collapsed in 1991 together with the Soviet system, unless you deliberately referred to Belarus in your listing.

          The German organization is called Bundesnachrichtendienst.
      • Nov 7 2013: KGB... They just named it the Federal Security Service now... Putin is still referred to as from the KGB or connected to the KGB whatever there name they still use the technique I described to conceal the cover of there agents but mostly their double agents. Hypnosis is an awesome power.
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      Nov 7 2013: Dear Keith,
      I have not experienced what you describe as the birth of a child, nor have I ever heard any other woman describe it in that way. WOW....sounds terrible.....perhaps you have information that we women are not aware of!

      You ask..."But the real question is this, why would you ever, ever, ever do that again?"

      The only pain, was during the actual birth, and I remember while in labor, thinking....."I will NEVER do this again!!! It only takes one look at that sweet little creature, and the pain is forgotten....I've heard lots of women express that feeling:>)

      This does not seem relevant to the question....."wearable technology", but I felt that your comment needed clarification from a woman who has actually given birth:>)
      • Nov 7 2013: I am guessing there are as many birth experiences as there are women. My first wife was a hundred pounds soaking wet and our child although natural was extremely painful to her. The first six months were a breeze but the last three were starting to get uncomfortable.
        My second wife had back problems and never intended to get pregnant as she had two children already and although she was considering it before we were married, 15 minutes after we were married she decided a definite no for more kids. Things went down hill from there. When she did get pregnant she was furious, Bahai's don't believe in birth pills so we were left with rubbers which I didn't like and diaphragms which she didn't like or rhythm methods which apparently didn't work to well either. As I said she was furious and that lasted for nine months until our daughter slowly popped out and then she slowly began to heal both physically and mentally. I was front and center for the whole experience and took care of both my daughter and my wife for several months until she got healthy enough to take over the Mother tasks. Even after the birth my wife was not a happy camper for many months and reminded me a lot. As for the birth pain I remember it well as my wife jerked my pants down to my knees (I wear no underwear). Then seeing my predicament said "Well, I'm naked so you might as well be too" It got a big laugh from the doctor and nurses but I just took it in stride, I figured at this point she can do whatever she wants. I'm glad to hear you had a different experience, I would not wish mine on anyone, but I would not trade my daughter for anything either, she is the pride of my life.
        By the way, not all women have an easy birth in fact as you know many children die during childbirth and also many women die during child birth, to some it is more than they can handle.
        He was talking about wearable technology and I was pointing out the wonders of the brain(unused wearable technology).
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          Nov 7 2013: I wholeheartedly agree Keith...there are many different pregnancy/birth scenarios, which is exactly why I popped in. It felt like your description of pregnancy/birth was for you, the one and only scenario.

          I am very sorry for your personal challenges with pregnancy and birth. It can be a beautiful, enjoyable time in a family's life, and it can also be very challenging....yes....I am aware of all the possibilities.
  • Oct 25 2013: I'm already wearing the most advanced technology in this world, I would love to be able to download a complete user's guide but I have not found the website yet. It already works pretty well but I know it has many undiscovered apps and features I have never tried yet. Maybe you have it to and like me have never used it that much? Everybody should have and use this device.
    • Oct 26 2013: Well said, it's somewhat a shame that the more recent generations have become increasingly more materialistic, I'd say.
      Not knowing that true value and wonder of what we don't even fully understand yet. I guess that's part of what makes it fascinating.
      • Oct 26 2013: I guess you figured out I was talking about the hat rack where you hang your glasses.
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    Oct 23 2013: The future could be of "Nudist" their numbers are increasing Look around; we are going back in stone age period (at least in clothes section)
  • Oct 22 2013: It is coming -MIT researcher published a paper on a wearable solar panel jacket. They were trying to tie in also heat to electricity technology also. They were also tying in pants that generated electricity when you move. I see in the future where we have wearable devices powered by wearable power sources.
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    Nov 19 2013: To me an extreme would be like a chip implemented on backside of our brains which will control our communications and record everything we say/hear/see....

    A recent series 'Black Mirror' comes to mind (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2089050/)
  • Nov 19 2013: Augmented reality - if you haven't heard of it look into it, its pretty amazing the rate technology is improving. If it continues at the rate it has been over the past 20 odd years we will all be constantly connected to a digital overlay of our reality. The only problem is that it will inevitably lead to a lack of interest/concern with the beautiful world around us.
    There is already a range of wearable technology available to the public and they are working on improving these. Contact lenses that instantly deliver information to the wearer, user mounted projectors giving product statistics to name just a couple.
    The next few years are going to be really interesting in regards to technology, but will we as a species know when we are going too far?
  • Nov 18 2013: Technology is increasing rapidly, and I believe that future of wearable technology would be huge. I believe it would be huge because it will then become a fashion trend and a must have item. Something that our society is always on the look out for. Google is currently working on glasses that help you record, keep track of time and many other things. Technology is always improving and the wearable technology will then be part of our everyday lives.
  • Nov 18 2013: Wearable clothing and changing technology are becoming synonymous. P.V. threads are being interlaced in clothing to collect solar power and may charge your cel phone, your computer, or any other portable device you may have. The implications for the military are imperceptible as well. Your clothes in the future will be able to sustain you in many applications of daily life, as much as you will relinquish to it....Power generation, stored information, tracking data, med. info, the possibilities are limitless
  • Nov 17 2013: Oh i don't know, i struggle with these designs recently, a hat brim that lights my face, instead of a Zippo.
    A hat with LED panels at trance concerts/ I'm a dull guy no more.
    My flexible arm Oleds would change daily as my list of things to do and to get does.
    My shoe sensors will tell me how they are matched for the current terrain/change tread pattern.
    My stomach GPS will tell me where best daily food deals/nutritional daily allowance are in town.
    On my bike my LED arrays will let me be seen better/live longer on our streets.
    And the best one, my dollar is worth more than your dollar because it came out of a smart wallet/purse.
  • Nov 9 2013: The future is un-noticeable attachments and interfaces to the already wonderful devices we already have like eyes, nose, ears and especially brain. The caution is they don't do more harm than good. In the near future you will be able to purchase grown organs and once they get that down to an art, they will immediately start thinking of ways to improve and make the organs better than the original. Organs that receive more data and have the ability to manipulate that data real time. Instead of eyes in front of our head like we have now, they will be able to see up and in all directions at the same time.
  • Nov 9 2013: Technology can be wearable but heart:)
  • Nov 7 2013: for I believe that in the future technology will have a great effect laptop in society as more and more people need them and for the same reason as you mention generates demananda and better things We could perhaps even be able to fly in a car or maybe once that starts a war because the technology also is part of the evolution of weaponry
    about whether we should use technology to diverge too conscious it is my view
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    Nov 5 2013: Dont ever consider wearable devices as necessary replacements of cell phones or any other currently prevalent devices,wearable devices are just as normal as any technological product,they serve a group of people who like the idea and design,while others dont.

    When you need it you need it,dont posit or impose to be needing it. So, wearable technology is merely a set of devices that seduce and match a group of people,just like television,fridge and bike do.
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    Nov 5 2013: I have heard about edible clothes and certainly witnessed fruit necklace and vegetable fashion wear. For the less greener side of it, there can be RFID tattoo, wearable bar-coded tickets for high security games - the possibility is enormous. There is also somewhat debatable but very possible technology of genetically engineered color of furs for pets - but then it is more than wearable!
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    Nov 3 2013: as for me , with the development of technology , more and more high-tech products have been made . such as telephone 、 computer 、 and so on ,, so i believe many things we are don't be familiar with will be discovered by human in the soon future. perhaps , we only know a little about it in this industry ,while we will face a lot of obstacles ,
  • Nov 3 2013: As for me, wearable technology have a very promising future. In the sphere of computer technology almost everything have been done for past 10 years (fast PC, laptops, tablets, smartphones and so on). And the only hopeful projects nowadays are wearable devices.
    And again, all this famous companies will never invest their money and time in no-win projects.
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    Nov 2 2013: The future of "wearable" technology depends on four things.

    1) Design -> Ergonomically aesthetically pleasing
    2) Pricing -> Affordable. Market is limited to pricing.
    3) Function -> It needs to do something well (and the more the better) that is worth wearing regularly.
    4) It needs to be durable.

    If these four conditions are met then wearable technology will always see those that have it "one step ahead of the game." In a competitive society being one step ahead is what competition is all about therefore it has a definite future.
  • Oct 29 2013: Cancer.
  • Oct 28 2013: I suppose we could say " I think, therefore I am " . So the world we make is a real projection of our imagination.
    Can we get more technical than that.
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    Oct 27 2013: very bright cause i want to have them. seriously speaking they are needed hence they have future
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    Oct 27 2013: I was talking very recently about this with my son. We were sitting down watching the announcement of the site for the next Olympics. After hearing Japan had been choses (we live in Japan currently) we started to discuss trying to make it to Tokyo to watch some of the events. Seeing as how the Olympics is a few years away I explored the possibility that by that time I may have a better handle on the language. About the same time there were a few articles about Google glass and similar things. I wondered, what if Google glass could make my language barrier more of a bump. What if I could put on a pair of glasses and magically everything around me was translated into my language. When people spoke to me, their words were translated and displayed..or better yet sent to a blue tooth device for me to hear in near real time. Maybe this is already a reality, I haven't really researched it. If not, I can see the potential for a very profitable accessory (especially at events like the Olympics).
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    Oct 25 2013: The future of "wearable teachnology" is:
    - 80% of humanity who live on less than $10 a day should have something warm to wear
    - the materials that the clothes are made of should be such that it can be produced with least "carbon footprint"
    - it shouldn't ruin our health and the diversity of the planet
    - it should be comfortable and beautiful
  • Oct 23 2013: That day is not far when Human will wear smart cloth, and shoes with high sensing capabilities. This will be possible as the nanotechnology upgrade. New technology will make life easier. Human want more and more than what he have. wearable technology has bright future. Smart watch is just only starting. With wearable technology, human will do multifunctional task at the same time.
    So future of this industry is bright but need more scientific effort to develop that stage.