The year began with predictions that 2014 would be the year of wearable technology, the electronic devices that take the wonders of 21st century communication technology from the desk top, lap or pad and place them around the wrist, ankle or body. As the year passes, the eager predictors have not been disappointed. Leading technology companies are ramping up their offerings and continue the battle for the leadership in the wearable electronic device market.
Many devices, once thought to be little more than a flight of fantasy or science fiction, are becoming increasingly common place with millions of eager wearer/users. While many of us thought the new gadgets would be worn like pieces of jewelry or an accessory, Athos is bringing to market a new line of exercise apparel embedded with bio-sensors that collect information from the wearer’s body, connects it to an accompanying smart phone device via Bluetooth, which then interprets the data and provides the wearer important insights about their physical routine. It is easy to imagine that Dick Tracy, the legendary wrist-radio wearing, crime fighting hero of decades old comic strips, would marvel at the newest technology. Do they come in yellow?
The newest in fitness monitoring wearables promises to be an affordable alternative to personal trainers, adding them to a workforce that includes some white-collar jobs, as a profession to feel the effects of the rapid advancement in communication technology. As Fitbit expands its basic line of products to include a line of techno designer jewelry that encourages wearers to get active, eat better, sleep better and lose weight, the makers of Rufus Cuff are challenging consumers to “join the wrist revolution” with the introduction of their “wrist communicator,” a wrist wearable that offers users a connected experience akin to one provided by their smartphone. Apple, never to be out done, will be introducing the new Apple Watch in 2015, a fashionable line of wearables that features a handsome, sleek polished design wrapped around all the newest bells and whistles that technology has to offer.
But with all the benefits and convenience of having a personal electronic trainer wrapped around some portion of the body, comes evidence of some nagging negatives. For many who find it difficult to divorce themselves from the daily relationship with their wearable partner and their fitness regimen, dedicated users are frequently haunted by feelings of guilt when they fall off the fitness wagon, sneak a snack or fudge a workout or rationalize a brief respite. For many, that little voice of conscience no longer expresses its message from within the confines of the head alone.
Initially thought to be devices favored by fitness mavens and mavericks, wearables are finding new converts among chronic disease suffers and consumer wellness advocates. It is estimated that the market for wearable health monitoring devices will grow to over $5 billion in the next three to four years. The monitors gather vital health data and integrate it into the patient’s health record, often providing immediate care and treatment to the user. It is saving time, lives and reducing the cost of healthcare.
Wearables have clearly crossed the threshold of being a passing fad and moved beyond the realm of curious widgets and are quickly becoming the place to find the latest in modern technology.