New trends in wearable technology
Following the predictions of Back To The Future II, we should only be one year away from riding hoverboards in the sky, comfortable in a pair of self-lacing shoes. While these much-discussed items are yet to surface (despite a consistent string of hoaxes) technology, in particular the wearable kinds, is leaping forward every day.
The concept of wearable technology can be disconcerting for some, as visions appear of government tracked collars and micro-chips, but it should be noted that we’ve all been using wearable technology for years.
The new developments really are just improvements on existing staples. Chances are you’ve worn a pedometer, heart rate monitor, pair of Bluetooth heaphones, a Go-Pro or a regular wristwatch before! Most wearable technology hinges on the transfer, recording and analysis of data for the purposes of added efficiency. So strap in, latch up and slide on – it’s time to check out the latest major trends in wearable tech and how they can improve your work, life and play.
Difficulty of use: easy
What it is
Health and fitness have long been the pioneering forces behind wearable tech. A simple rubber wristband that houses a wireless touch-sensitive tracker, the Fitbit Flex is arguably the most popular activity and sleep tracker on the market.
Burning calories turns from a dark art to an exact science, as the Flex wirelessly tracks steps taken, distance traveled, active minutes and the quality of your sleep to give you an exact picture of your lifestyle, with an accurate assessment of calories burned.
How it works
You charge it up, strap it on and synch it to your phone or computer via the FitBit app using Bluetooth. Once you’re on the road, the unit only requires charging every 3-4 days. Switching modes between active and sleeping is simply case of learning the tap commands and watching the LED light system for response.
You can set your own goals for steps, active minutes and the like to keep life a challenge and increase ‘the burn’. There is also the option to use a silent alarm that wakes you up by vibrating the wristband, a true godsend for bed partners working different shifts on a weekday. Plus, this bad boy is completely waterproof so you never need to take it off unless it’s time for a recharge.
Available: late 2014
Cost: estimated at $1,500
Difficulty of use: variable
What it is
The most sci-fi of the all the tech we’re examining, the Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer with a focus on an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Google Glass heralds the dawn of ubiquitous computing, separating the user from the need to work with a PC, phone or tablet device to engage with an online interface.
How it works
The potential applications and benefits of the Google Glass are endless. Just think about how it could change the life of a surgeon or improve OHS on a worksite. As far as the basic operation goes, it’s a hand-free unit that works much like a smart phone can, communicating via natural language voice commands.
Just say “take a picture” and it takes a picture. The same goes for sending a message. Get up-to-date directions right in front of your eyes. Live share video from events directly. Look at things and see useful info on the spot. This thing is just too damn cool for words.
Samsung™ Galaxy Gear Smartwatch
Difficulty of use: medium
What it is
The Samsung™ Galaxy Gear is an Android-based smartwatch designed to work with existing Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
How it works
A Bluetooth connection links your Galaxy Gear with your compatible smartphone, giving you the ability to answer and make calls from your wrist, throw down voice commands and receive important notifications. There’s also a 1.9MP camera for photos and videos (up to 15 seconds) that can be stored onboard or immediately moved over to your phone or tablet. You can also record voice memos on the run.
The Galaxy Gear is really best utilized by individuals who need to stay informed of what’s happening in their inbox and on their phone that don’t want to be constantly digging out their phone in meetings or transit. It’s very much like a wearable personal assistant with access to your phone and calendar. The camera is a neat bonus, as is the pedometer, music and, of course, watch functions.
What are the most exciting pieces of wearable tech sitting just over the horizon?
That’s easy. The long-discussed iWatch and the unfathomably cool home-theatre-in-your-headphonesGlyph.