11 Wearable Electronics of the Future
A decade ago no one would have been able to predict that millions of people would buy and come to rely on watches that not only tell time, but also send and receive texts, check the weather, and track fitness biometrics.
Yet the integration of wearables into our daily lives, like the Apple Watch or Google Glass, is on the rise--fueled by our addiction to increasingly faster and smaller tech.
While futurism isn’t necessarily a perfect science, human drive is intent on innovating the next best piece of tech: how will it maximize our potential? What kinds of information will they be able to glean from the outside or even inside of our bodies? Most importantly, how will that information help us make better-informed decisions.
Well, we wanted to get as close as we could to an answer, so we compiled a list of possible future electronics, smart tech clothing, and gadgets.
The best wearable tech of the future will have multiple benefits, using biometrics to track internal health factors such as mood, stress levels and body temperature, while also tracking environmental factors like UV exposure or air quality. There will also be the question of security: what kind of data will these wearables generate, and who will pay astronomical amounts to get their hands on it?
7 a.m. Getting Out the Door
1. Mood Fabric Shirts/Sweaters: Sensors in these fabrics will be able to track biometrics to determine mood, and could light up or even change color--allowing both the wearer and people around them to respond accordingly. These could become one of the more aesthetic wearable technology trends, but could also be a somewhat awkward piece to wear brazenly at the office. They might stay in the music festival and entertainment space.
2. Posture Reminder Shirts/Blazers: Using sensors and haptic feedback in shoulder pads or along shoulder blades, these tops will gently remind the user to straighten their spine in order to avoid health problems caused by long-term slouching.
3. Custom Renewable Power Shoes: Cascas’ FootB3D™ technology doesn’t currently include electronics, but uses scans of your foot from your smartphone to map over 20,000 points on your feet to give you a crazy accurate fit with orthotic-like support. The high-grade, lighter-weight materials in our Avros give themselves more easily to neat features like haptic feedback responses (like those little vibrations your smartphone gives off when you type) to direct you as you navigate between destinations.
Current tech allows for GPS to be embedded in thick rubber soles, but these wearables are so large and heavy that they’re almost, well, unwearable for the average commuter. Future Cascas, on the other hand, may be able to charge themselves as you walk, using impact and movement to run GPS, self-powered temperature control, and even allow them to act as an external battery for your other devices--all without adding military-style bulk.
4. Smart Earrings: A normal-looking pair of earrings could also have bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to take phone calls, choose, and control your music. Future models might even be able to track heart rate, body temperature and blood oxygen levels, providing you with vital health stats. But when more and more wearables like this start to become the norm, there’s a possibility that insurance companies will also want access to that data to monitor your health and alter your rates.
5. Smart Rings: While there are already a few smart rings on the market (like the Oura Ring) that read biometrics and send the data to your smartphone, future smart rings will also use your movements to interact with other electronics in the home and office: keyboards, lights, screens, and security for example. Flick of the wrist to turn on the TV, flick of the other wrist to turn it back off.
8 a.m. Commuting
6. Wearable Chair: No seat on the bus? No problem. Just lean backwards onto your chair (like this model shown by Tech Insider) and listen to your audiobook. Sure, you’ll look like a human tripod, but we’re talking about wearables here, not new knees.
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. At the Office
7. Personal Assistant Contact Lenses and Glasses: Keep your day organized with a personal assistant who gets to know you better than any person could. With advanced AI, it can learn to predict your thoughts and intentions by analyzing your emotional reactions and provide what you need before you know you even need it. Have you heard of Replika? It’s an AI that becomes you the more you interact with it. Useful, or a bit creepy? We’re split.
8. Under-the-Nail Microchips or Microchip Nailpolish: These microchips may not be able to do much on their own, but they would be able to track your movement, allowing you to enable a keyboard function for virtual screens, providing real-time haptic feedback against the keys. They could possibly even allow you to draw virtually in 3D or interact with holographics. Social media could get a whole lot more interesting.
6:30 p.m. Gym Class
Wearable health technology will take many forms in the future, but one of the easiest ones to integrate early on will be at the gym because of the high-intensity nature of fitness and the straightforward application to our daily lives.
9. Posture-Correcting Pants: Similar products are already on the market, albeit niche! Check out this example by Nadi X. The idea is that using haptic feedback and tracking your movements, these garments can actually correct your posture over time, helping you avoid long-term damage from exercise. They can even recommend moves that will help reverse bad habits.
10. Health Monitoring Tops: While not a particularly novel idea, heart rate monitors in exercise equipment and wearable watches can be immensely helpful for training. Based on medical tech, fabric of the future will contain micro-EMG sensors that can also detect which muscles are working, and transfer that data to a central hub, like your phone. It could also track muscle effort, heart rate, and breathing in order to help you exercise correctly and avoid injury. Like the smart earrings, however, the data that this kind of tech generates will be invaluable to insurance companies and conglomerates that want to market to you or predict their audience’s trends. The cybersecurity aspect of powerful technology like this will be interesting to watch develop.
8 p.m. Getting Home Safe
11. Panic “Button:” Shirt and jacket buttons haven’t been touched by wearable tech quite yet, but they could. Integrated with other devices, these buttons will be able to track your movements using GPS and learn your habits. If you end up somewhere you aren’t supposed to or happen to find yourself lost and in a dangerous place, your button will be able to contact your family or call for help. Similar, non-embedded wearables, like rings, keychains, and necklaces already use this technology!
Plug in your devices at night!
Don’t forget to charge your devices at night! Their resting places will act as charging pads, taking the pain out of plugging and unplugging, and giving you more time for much-needed rest to do it all again tomorrow.