Wearable technology refers to any technology worn on the body that records data about the wearer.
The sources of wearable device data are the wearers themselves. However, the devices they use to record their data can be anything from watches to glasses to jewelry.
Wearable technology records the wearer’s activity and biometrics. Depending on the device used, this may include such detailed information as mood, brainwaves, or blood sugar.
After recording the data, these devices then store it either in the devices themselves, in a cloud, or transmit it to another device, like a smartphone or computer. This transmission takes place with Bluetooth, WiFi, or mobile data.
Most wearable technology is available for private commercial use, so individuals use the data to improve their lives in some way—for example, by increasing their daily activity or by sleeping more often. However, the healthcare field sees the most use of this data. In fact, many developers create and market wearable devices exclusively for medical use. Examples include devices that measure gait to predict Alzheimer’s or wearable dialysis machines.
Additional uses of wearable devices are in entertainment and industry. In these fields, eyewear is key. For example, VR and AR headsets provide interactive movies or games experiences. Meanwhile, many industries use glasses that allow wearers to see what’s in front of them but still have hands-free access to workplace software.
Wearable devices merely transmit data; the wearer’s biometrics are always valid. Therefore, the focus should be on ensuring the devices are sensitive, damage-resistant, have long battery life, and record and transmit data continuously.
Furthermore, these devices should have a simple user interface. That is, unless required for work, the device design must be intuitive enough that an ordinary person can pick it up and start using it right away. In short, if users don’t find the device user-friendly, they won’t use it and there won’t be any data to record.
Finally, privacy and security are concerns for this type of data. Encryption, authentication, and blockchain technologies all help here.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are developing a wearable electronic device that’s “really wearable”–a stretchy and fully-recyclable circuit board that’s inspired by, and sticks onto, human skin.
The team, led by Jianliang Xiao and Wei Zhang, describes its new “electronic skin” in a paper published today in the journal Science Advances. The device can heal itself, much like real skin. It also reliably performs a range of sensory tasks, from measuring the body temperature of users to tracking their daily step counts.
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