Wearable technology is a growing market in the technology sector. This sector is worth over $25 billion and has continued to grow. The history of wearables shows that it has been around since the 15th century. Since then, wearables have become a household name used by military forces, businesses, and medical professionals for decades. However, the wearable industry is dominated by fitness gadgets like those used for counting steps or monitoring your heart hearts.
Big names like Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin sell millions of wearables each year, but they face stiff competition from start-ups. First, however, you might be wondering what wearable technology is? This article will delve deeper into the history of wearable technology and its various application of the technology.
What is Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology is an electronic device designed for users to wear. It can take various forms like accessories, jewelry, medical devices, elements of clothing, and many more. It requires wearable computing which refers to the communication and processing capabilities of the item. However, the sophistication of the wearable usually depends on the technology used.
The most intricate examples of wearable technology include Google Glass, Artificial Intelligence hearing aids, Microsoft HoloLens, and many others. However, a less complex form of this technology is disposable skin patches with sensors. They transmit patient data wireless to a control device in the facility.
How Does It Work?
Wearable technology falls under a broad category of usabilities like fitness trackers, smartwatches, etc. Wearables work differently, usually dependent on the category they belong to. Some of the popular categories include fitness, health, and entertainment. It works with batteries, microprocessors, and connectivity to the internet so you can sync the data with other electronics like laptops or mobile devices. Wearable technology also comes with in-built sensors that track your bodily movements. In addition, it features biometric identifications and can sometimes help the user with location tracking.
Activity trackers and smartwatches are the most common types of wearables. They usually come with a strap that wraps around the user’s wrist to monitor their physical activities and vitals throughout the day. Although most wearables are attached to clothing or worn on the body, some function without any physical contact with the user.
Smart tags, computers, or smartphones can still be carried around and will track the user’s movement and vitals. Other wearables utilize smart remote sensors to track your speed and movement. Others use optical sensors that can measure glucose levels or heart rate. A common factor about wearable technology is that the primary goal of the technology is monitoring the wearer’s data in real-time.
History of Wearable Technology
The history of wearable technology began in the 13th century with the invention of the first eyeglass. Down the line in the 15th century, inventors created timepieces, and some of them were small enough for you to wear. However, it wasn’t till the 1960s that modern wearable technology came into existence. Below is a breakdown of the history of wearable technology according to various timelines.
History of Wearable Technology – The 1960s
In 1961, Claude Shannon and Edward Thorpe created the first modern wearable technology. It came in the shape of a small four-button computer that could easily fit into a person’s shoe or allow you to strap it around your waist. This wearable technology aims to help gamblers in casinos cheat at roulette games. In addition, the computer served as a timing device that could easily predict where the ball would land.
History of Wearable Technology – 1970
Although Claude and Edward created the first modern technology in the 1960s, it only began to gain popularity in 1970. It was in this decade that Pulsar created the first calculator wristwatch. This new wearable technology soon became a fashion statement as many celebrities like Sting, Police lead singer, were seen wearing it.
Pulsar wasn’t the only company with the wearable technology idea, as Casio also released watches late in the 1970s. This soon gained popularity, and Marty McFly was seen wearing the Casio Calculator in his movie ‘Back to the Future.’
History of Wearable Technology – 1980
In 1979, Sony released the first Walkman. The Walkman didn’t take long to become the most famous wearable music device and remained so throughout the 80s. The healthcare industry also dived into the wearable technology sector by creating the first digital hearing aids in 1987.
History of Wearable Technology – The 1990s
In 1994, a Canadian researcher named Steve Mann created a wearable wireless webcam. This webcam technology is arguably the future of IoT technologies. It was also in the 1990s that there were smart clothing expos and wearable technology conferences. This significantly spiked its popularity in the 90s.
History of Wearable Technology – The 2000s
We can all agree that it was within this decade that there was an explosion in wearable technology. It was in the 2000s that Nike introduced the iPod Sport Kit. Bluetooth headsets also entered the scene, and so did Fitbits. Wearable technology became more of a fashion statement in this decade.
History of Wearable Technology – The 2010s
This decade marked the tipping point of wearable technology. With further advancements in technology, the Google Glass entered the picture in 2013. Apple Watch also debuted in 2015, and the Oculus Rift Headset quickly followed it in 2016. This decade, there were several other wearable technology innovations, with start-ups popping up everywhere.
History of Wearable Technology – The 2020s
Advancements in the gaming industry characterize the entrance of this decade. Game developers continue to integrate new VR and AR headsets into their games. Additionally, clothing designers are diving into virtual fashion and bringing smart clothing to the mainstream.
Top Applications of Wearable Technology
Consumer wearables like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and many more are top wearable technology applications. However, there have been notable advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI. Due to this, wearable technology is now present in various industries and used in navigation systems, professional sports, and many more. This article follows the most common applications of wearable technology. We’ll take the history of wearable technology into account, considering it the first wearable tech to be created.
Epidermal Skin Technology
According to ScienceDaily, The Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation created a wearable electronic skin that you could use to monitor health. This next-generation wearable technology is a thin e-skin patch that you could attach to your chest area. It comes with a small wireless transmitter, and a water spray helps it stick to the wearer. You could wear a single patch for more than a week.
This ultra-thin e-skin patch is quite sensitive and can easily pick up electro signals. It records muscle movements and heartbeats sent directly to healthcare providers through the cloud. This way, the providers could easily monitor the user’s vitals remotely. This wearable technology is a significant stepping stone for monitoring chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart failure.
This wearable technology is more popular than epidermal skin technology. People wear this technology to track and receive notifications about their blood pressure and heart rate. This application of wearable technology can also be helpful when monitoring training regimens and calorie intake. In addition, the pandemic boosted the use of health monitoring wearable technology because it made most consumers more aware of their hygiene.
Therefore, people began to take precautions to prevent the spread of infections. Apple updated its cardiogram app by creating the sleeping beats-per-minute feature. This new feature helped users to monitor heart-rate fluctuations for COVID-19 patients.
Entertainment and Gaming
The entertainment and gaming industries were the first to start utilizing VR headsets, controllers, and smart glasses. Some of the most popular VR head-mounted displays include Meta Quest, Sony PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest, etc. These displays are used for entertainment purposes like watching movies, gaming, virtual travels, and many more.
Fashion and Smart Clothing
This option is also quite popular. Virtual fashion has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years. For example, smart Jackets like the Levi Jacket, which featured Google’s Project Jacquard technology, had threads that Levi made with electrical fibers. This technology enabled the wearer to answer calls, take photos, play music, and more right from their sleeves. Other fashionable wearable technologies include smart jewelry, wristbands, smart shoes, etc.
The military isn’t left out of it. Throughout the history of wearable technology, inventors also created wearables that could track soldiers’ vitals. Other military-based wearable technology includes VR-based simulation exercises and sustainable technology. An example is the boot insert which estimates how well soldiers hold their equipment weight and how various terrain factors affect their performance.
Sports and Fitness
The sports industry is quite popular in its use of wearable technology. It is either built into the fabric or incorporated into the equipment like bats and balls. For example, GPS and Bluetooth-linked devices record real-time data and send them to coaches for analysis. Beyond the wearable athletic devices, other technology used in the sports industry, including Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, Polar, and many more, are used to track players’ performance and health metrics.
What the Future of Wearable Technology Holds
Wearable technology continues to become famous and will revolutionize the future. Although smart devices, fitness trackers, AR headsets, and many more have gained approval throughout the history of wearable technology. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Below is some futuristic wearable technology to expect.
Some reports from Bloomberg and The Information suggest that we can expect Apple Glasses by 2023. This technology will allow users to transfer information from their phones to their faces. These glasses will automatically synchronize with the wearer’s iPhone to display games, texts, emails, and many more within their field of vision.
A drawback of wearable technology is that you have to take it off for regular charging. However, an energy harvester can prolong battery life by converting solar energy, body heat, and movement into power. An example of energy harvesting technology is piezoelectricity; piezoelectric ceramic can convert body vibrations developed during movement into energy.
Smart Contact Lenses
Smart contact lenses are popular in sci-fi movies and help deliver real-time information to the human eye. This wearable technology will soon be available to consumers. Top tech brands, including Mojo vision, Sony, Google, and Samsung, are working on developing smart contact lenses that could sync up with smartphones. The goal is to provide real-time, hands-free information alongside vision correction.
Three hundred years after the first wearable technology, there are now different wearable technologies in various industries today. Although it seems like a recent development, it has been advancing over the decades, and now we’re in the technological era. This article provides insight into the history of wearable technology and its different applications in different industries. We hope you understand better how technology has evolved through the decades.