Let’s get digital: wearable technology
Wearable technology, known as “wearables,” seems to be the newest addition to the vernacular of the nation, with the announcement of some Jetsons-age technologies landing in stores shortly.
While wearables have actually been around since the 1980s, with the calculator watch strapped to millions of wrists and Bluetooth headsets on every ear, what we are now seeing are wearables with the volume turned all the way up.
Forbes recently reported that 71 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds want wearable technology, described as smartwatches, wristbands or Google Glass. Arguably the largest consumers of technology devices, this age group has the potential to affect the future of wearables and their presence as a link to the world.
As sophisticated technological advances are made available to the public, we may begin to see wearables take on a new existence, which is a scary thought in a world already overrun by technology.
Smartwatches are one of the fastest growing wearables on the market right now, with the promise of doing everything your smartphone can, and then some. Brands like LG, Samsung and Apple have jumped on the train with the promise of delivering the capabilities of a supercomputer to your wrist.
Of the smartwatches already on the market, prices range from $150 to $350, and your money will buy you the ability to make and receive phone calls, utilize applications and track fitness information without whipping out the monolithic smartphone from your pocket. These watches sync to your smartphone, provide all of the same information and are ideal for when it’s inconvenient to have your phone out.
Most of the current watches available are only compatible with Android devices, however, some brands like Pebble Steel have made devices consistent with Apple’s iOS. True Apple diehards will have to wait until the vague “early 2015” release date for the simply named Apple Watch to hit shelves. Those who wait will be rewarded with retina display, as well as rose gold and platinum finishes, to name a few. Though a more attractive option, the Apple Watch must be charged daily, while comparative options have a two- to seven-day battery life.
Activity trackers are seemingly the most practical wearables, despite being characteristically vague. Some of the more common activity trackers include the FitBit, which has six different models, and monitors heart rate, sleep cycles and counts steps to provide a comprehensive profile of your daily activity.
The newly released Jawbone UP3 is a sleek band for the wrist that measures skin temperature, resting heart rate (which is important for understanding your heart health) and hydration. The UP3 also automatically measures your light, deep and REM sleep and provides all of this through the Jawbone app on your smartphone. The individuals at Jawbone work to analyze user shared data to better understand the effects of gaining more sleep and walking an extra mile or two on long-term health effects.
Two weeks ago, Google announced that they will no longer provide Google Glass, the computerized lens wear, to retail customers, following its lack of success on the market. Instead, medical companies and factories, the only ones really using Google Glass anyway, will be the only permitted buyers of the product.
Whether you’re a technology buff or just someone who lives a busy life, wearables can be beneficial for the fast-paced and information-hungry society of today. They may seem like a luxury today, but in the not-so-distance future, these abstruse mechanisms could be commonplace and open up worlds of knowledge for the regular Joe.