Science fiction TV shows have shown us how our computers and technology will become miniaturized in the future. Knight Rider, a highly entertaining TV series involving an unbreakable AI car and its highly masculine driver has shown us the multi-functional wrist communicator, Star Trek The Next Generation has made us dream of communicator badges – and these are just the two best known examples. Wearable tech has shown up in movies and novels in the last century, making us dream of having some of our own. Today these have become a reality: wearables such as fitness trackers and smart watches have become part of our lives, allowing us to read news, send messages, or even play online pokies on them. These are already changing the way we look at technology, but what about the future?
Today’s truly innovative wearable devices are different from what people are used to. Smart watches look like ordinary watches, but they have loads of extra functions besides just showing the time, while the likes of Google Glass are obviously not what people are used to, so they attract uneasy glances and often criticism. Until the attitude of people toward wearable tech will change we can’t expect the wide acceptance of a new paradigm. The Google Glass was discontinued as a device for the public, and will most likely be used in medicine only, for the time being at least. Microsoft’s HoloLens will be great to use at home, but we shouldn’t expect too many people walking around with it in the streets.
It’s not hard to imagine the future of wearable tech – as it already has been imagined by some creative and visionary science fiction writers before. A wearable device that can send out a distress signal to emergency services if a child is lost can be a life-saver. A wearable device that can detect in which direction a person gazes can help paralyzed people interact with the outside world much easier – think those suffering from ALS, those involved in accidents, and so on. A wearable device can track our vital signals – not just our heart beat, but our body temperature, blood pressure, the chemicals in our sweat and many other factors – and can provide health advice or alert emergency services if the need arises. And the list could go on for hours.
But… there is a but. Today’s wearables market is highly competitive in nature. Manufacturers are battling for market shares, but they fail to see the importance of developing a common platform that has the potential to help the technology reach its true potential. Once wearables become something more than just a trendy gadget we can expect them to become what they are meant to be: an extension of ourselves, a helpful part of our everyday lives.