Wearable technology is a buzzword in the tech world nowadays. Despite being in its nascent stage, the technology is increasingly being embraced by businesses and users. But what is wearable technology and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Let’s address some of these basic yet extremely important questions in this blog.
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What is Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology refers to the technology behind electronic devices, called wearables. These devices are designed to be worn as accessories, put in/implanted in the human body, added to the clothing fabric, or in some cases, even tattooed on the skin.
Wearables are used in industries such as fashion, fitness, health, gaming, and sports. These are portable and hands-free devices that are known for their practicality. Powered by microprocessors, this technology is capable of sending and receiving data via the Internet.
The first wearable product to gain massive popularity was fitness bands or activity trackers. Then advanced elements such as a screen, wristwatch, and mobile apps were added. As businesses and users started realizing the benefits of this technology, more industries started leveraging it to develop digital products. And rightly so.
Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches, web-enables glasses, all these gadgets all users to receive data from Wi-Fi networks. Furthermore, the AR/VR headsets used in the gaming industry, blend the real and virtual elements. This allows users to get more genuine and enjoyable gaming experiences.
In the healthcare sector, this technology is helping users to track their health vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure rate, etc. This allows them to seek help as soon as there are any alarming signs or symptoms.
The technology is evolving and diversifying rapidly. In fact, a Canadian company named Myant is overseeing the development of a clothing fabric. This fabric will track every move you make. They have created this “smart fabric”, capable of detecting information from one’s body using electronic sensors and yarns.
After the garment is worn, it will immediately start giving information regarding one’s ECG, temperature, movements, and breathing. The “smart material” is being touted as the next major technology in wearable electronics.
Advantages of Wearable Technology
Wearable technology is growing in leaps and bounds. It has covered markets of several developed and developing countries and growing rapidly in others.
Businesses are increasingly investing in this technology due to the simple reason that it has been very well-received by the audience.
For example, I am an adult who regularly uses her smartwatch to track my daily steps, calories burnt during workouts, heart rate, oxygen levels, etc. The smartwatch powered by wearable technology has become a necessity for me, and many others like me.
But why? What benefits do I or millions of other users of this technology receive from it?
Let’s look at some of the advantages of wearable technology that are making it a hit among users and businesses.
Ease of Use
Wearable technology has evolved and become more sophisticated since its introduction. The devices built and offered today are much easier to integrate and use. These portable and hands-free gadgets/devices are easy to set up and connect with smartphones.
Additionally, they can be worn anywhere and are available in multiple forms such as wristwatches, accessories, glasses, headsets, etc.
Contributes to Healthcare
Wearable technology is massively supporting the healthcare sector. It allows individuals, with age no bar, to track their vitals as well as creates a more connected health experience for both healthcare seekers and givers.
These devices monitor everything from heart rate, blood pressure, and daily physical activity to stress and sleep levels. Additionally, smart scales can even measure body weight and fat percentage.
This could prove to be life-saving data for many users, especially in their middle or old age. Wearable devices or implanted tech such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) monitor, notify any irregularities, and control heart rates, even helping to revive the heart, if required.
Similarly, these devices could monitor and detect irregularities in BP as well as rise/fall in blood sugar levels, helping diabetic patients to self-monitor their health. The data collected and transmitted by these devices help healthcare professionals to provide appropriate medical treatment considering the present as well as historical health data.
Not just it. Wearable devices resembling watches, are used to monitor the activities of patients with Parkinson’s disease in the absence or between doctor’s visits as well as send medication alerts to the patients.
Wearable technology helps users to be at the top of their games. The voice command technology allows users to set reminders, dictate notes, and make to-do or checklists, all hands-free. This helps them multi-task with efficiency.
Additionally, with fitness bands/smartwatches, a user can track his/her physical activity and bring the necessary changes to enhance productivity. Smartwatches even offer important notifications to users while they are busy doing other work, allowing greater real-time connectivity and collaboration.
Supports Safe Working Practices
Wearable technology is used to monitor worker fatigue and notify the need for a break. This helps to avoid any accidents or mishaps caused due to human error/negligence.
Additionally, wearable technology is used to build protective or safety equipment such as glasses with heads-up displays and hats with sensors. These equipment or other wearable devices have in-built safety features like GPS tracking, sensors to detect proximity and alert systems. These features facilitate prompt action in case of emergencies, threats, and risks, creating safe workplaces, especially in the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors.
GPS in smartwatches also helps fitness enthusiasts, especially bikers, trekkers, hikers, etc., to find their way back in cases they get lost outdoors.
Facilitates Overall Health Maintenance:
Wearable technology in the form of fitness bands and smartwatches allows users to monitor their overall health, from vitals to physical activities.
Moreover, these devices also help to identify human sleeping patterns and stress levels and initiate action whenever required, by offering real-time as well as historical data and ease of transmission across devices.
Despite having multiple advantages, wearable technology also has some shortcomings that we will discuss in the next section.
Like every other technology, wearable technology has its pros and cons. And when there is an investment to be made, especially in technology, a user or business should always be aware of both, the good as well as the bad.
This section will list some of the cons or risks associated with wearable technology for users to make an informed decision.
Some disadvantages of wearable technology are:
Security of Data
Security features and provisions for various wearable devices might differ. Therefore, a user should go through the security features of each device carefully in order to protect the personal data collected and shared. The more the technology is widely used, the more it will be noticed by hackers and fraudsters.
With advancements, some wearable products like the Apple Watch are being offered with bigger screens and with some features similar to smartphones. However, it should be noted that the majority of devices would require smartphones to work. They are not replacements for smartphones, as opposed to the constant comparisons made with them.
Wearable devices have a limited battery capacity which may not be a favourable feature for a user or a business that highly relies on devices. Good quality battery devices come at a higher cost due to the limitations of a compact, lightweight, and portable wearable device to hold heavy batteries.
Integration of wearable technology with the existing infrastructure, software, or legacy system can present some challenges. This may call for additional training, resources, or technical support.
As wearable technology is still in its initial stages, the options of devices are limited and so are the market players. As the technology is gaining more popularity, more and more businesses are expected to invest and enter the market, bringing more options and competitive prices.
The wearable app development trends highlight that it is a rapidly growing technology. As more businesses enter the market with revolutionary products leveraging this technology, the wearables market will further expand to include users with different purchasing powers on the income spectrum.