What is a wearable?

Leaving the gym and knowing all the calories burned or steps taken, receiving messages on the wrist or keeping track of the hours of sleep, are some examples of things that can be done with wearables. But, what is a wearable?

The “portable technology” is a term that refers to those technological devices that can be “worn”, since by definition they go where their user goes [1]. They allow the user to connect with their mobile devices and receive notifications, store information related to health and fitness, routes made, take photos, etc. [2].

But this technology is not just something new and fashionable. It must be understood as something that allows us to interact with ourselves, our environment and the world around us, since the devices are designed to improve our quality of life.

How to call them?

There are different names for a technology that basically responds to the same characteristics. Which one is correct?

You end up assuming the most used term is correct, so, for this, we decided to check in Google which are the most used forms. These are the results for January 27, 2018 [3]:

  • Wearable technology: 97,400
  • Body technology: 14,200,000
  • Technological clothing: 1,240,000
  • Smart clothes: 431,000
  • Wearable technology: 45,100
  • Wearables: 65,700,000
  • Wearable: 107,000,000

The conclusion does not admit doubt, “Wearable” is the term with which, overwhelmingly, we call this type of technology.

How do they work?

Generally wearables have some communication system that allows the user to access information in real time, although there is a factor that is not missing in any of these devices: allow data entry and store them locally [4].

They can be used both with computers and mobile phones and autonomously. In general, these are independent devices that can work without interaction with other devices, but that maximize their possibilities and advantages when paired with other elements. The most important thing to keep in mind to choose the wearable that most interests us, is to take into account the connection possibilities we want and have available, so that we do not have problems of incompatibility, battery life or other errors.

The battery worn by wearable devices has always been a problem or cause for doubt at the time of purchase. As they are small devices, the batteries that can be incorporated can not be large capacity. In addition, because they require wireless connection, the energy consumption of them is usually high. Hence, depending on the type of device and the reasons for use, the beginnings of technology were not expected by users. This is currently changing, and, for example, there are already bracelets that can track the user’s movements with load for several weeks.

Evolution of wearables

Although we do not have a specific date for the beginning of the history of wearables, we can say that these appeared the first time that a human adapted to his body a technological development no matter how rupestre, which can take us back to the Neolithic. Of course, the starting signal for wearables occurs in the 20th century [5], fueled in the collective imagination with the development of gadgets typical of spies during the Cold War era.

However, with the beginning of the XXI century is witnessing an exponential growth of this technology, being considered 2014 [6] as the year of the wearables and waiting for 2018 global sales of more than 300 million devices, which they will translate into a profit of 30,000 million dollars [7].

Not only the number of devices will be increased, but also its type, increasingly varied.

Uses and applications of wearables

Currently the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about this type of technology may be the new watches or the famous Google Glasses, but there is a world that goes far beyond these two types of devices, from contact lenses, textiles and smart fabrics, ribbons, hats, rings, bracelets or earrings [8].

Its implementation can influence many fields, highlighting health, medicine, disabilities or education, but also others such as transport, business, finance, games or music [9].

Thus, we can already find smart watches, glasses, activity wristbands, accessories, or implants, both close to the body (without contact), as contact, and within the body. Thus, practically there is not part of the human anatomy that does not have its own wearable: head, ears, eyes, torso, arms, wrist, legs, feet [10] …

And the uses of wearables cover increasingly broad and novel aspects, involving a greater number of economic sectors: health, industry, sports and welfare, entertainment, or military, among the most important.

What to do to stay up to date?

Currently, numerous fairs and international events dedicated totally or partially to wearables are held. They are the best way to know firsthand the latest developments in this field. A representative sample can be the following:

However, there is another equally effective way to stay up to date on the wearable world in a more economical and accessible way: Check the Draxides blog!

[1] https://www.techopedia.com/definition/31206/wearable-device [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_technology [3] https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tecnolog%C3%ADa_vestible [4] http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=738305 [5] http://www.redorbit.com/reference/the-history-of-wearable-technology/ [6] https://www.wareable.com/wearable-tech/a-brief-history-of-wearables [7] https://www.statista.com/topics/1556/wearable-technology/ [8] http://www.information-age.com/current-and-future-applications-wearable-technology-123460636/ [9] https://online.grace.edu/news/business/the-past-present-future-of-wearable-technology/ [10] https://www.capgemini.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/wearable_devices_and_their_applicability_in_the_life_insurance_industry.pdf