Clothing and accessories to keep warm and look good? That’s so passé darling! Wearable technology is changing the way we live our lives and the way we dress and as with many other areas of our everyday lives the potential for M2M to penetrate what we are wearing means that clothing and accessories are already moving from functional to fantastical. A recent survey on wearable technology by the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London, showed that 18% of those surveyed had already used wearable technology whilst 71% of Americans and 63% of Brits said that wearable technology had improved their health and fitness – one of its primary markets to date.
The market is advancing fast. Last year saw the Twitter dress and this year the revelation that is Google Glass. You will be able to hear more about the opportunities that Google Glass offers at Apps World Europe this October when Google principal architect Grant Allen will be presenting his vision of the future as part of a showcase session within the free to attend Droid World Android Conference. Meanwhile Apple boss Tim Cook, who is understood to be working on the iWatch, said earlier this month that wearable technology was “profoundly exciting”. So how is wearable technology changing the way we live?
1) By making us fitter
This is the most public facing role of M2M in wearables and there are already a number of wearable accessories on the market -- often wristband based -- that allow wearers to monitor activity levels and thereby improve fitness. Examples include Fitbit’s Flex or the Nike + Fuelband, both of which track activity and calories burned. Some, such as the Fitbit device and the Jawbone UP, track sleep patterns too. As in the car industry some health insurance companies are already giving customers that wear such fitness gadgets lower premiums based on the amount of exercise that they do.
2) By allowing self-reliance
Where wearable technology really comes into its own is where it has a very real benefit to the user and there are a variety of gadgets in the market that are aimed at helping either the elderly or the disabled to better care for themselves. The Image Watch for example flashes up icons to remind its wearer the right time to do things such as eat or perform tasks and is particularly suitable for people suffering from conditions such as ADHD or Asperger's syndrome.
3) By monitoring the vulnerable
The market for M2M within the care market is huge. Services such as hospital to home will increasingly allow patients to recover in the comfort of their own homes whilst still being monitored through equipment they wear and within their home, which is accessible by care staff. The future meanwhile could see the doctor calling us before we knew we were ill. Meanwhile the advantages offered by M2M for assisted living is also important, offering the ability for monitoring the movement of those with Alzheimers for example. In Spain Vodafone is working with the Red Cross on SIMAP – a telemonitoring system that helps alerts wearers friends or family of the GPS location of their loved ones.
4) For infotainment
These are the uses in which the likes of Apple’s iWatch and Google Glass fall, allowing users to more closely integrate their infotainment needs in a more accessible form than a mere tablet or PC! Allen will be explaining more about the opportunities offered by Google Glass in his session at Apps World Europe.
5) By introducing a little more va va vroom in our lives
Of course there are fun uses to wearable technology too. In April condom manufacturer Durex revealed its Fundawear smartphone-controlled vibrating underwear which allows couples to titillate each each other remotely. Operated via a smartphone app it shows that wearable technology is literally a market that is arousing much interest. Though we can’t promise you will be able to try it out you will be able to hear from the co-founders of Wearable Experiments – the inventors of Durex Fundawear – at Apps World Europe as both Ben Moir and Billie Whitehouse will also be speaking.