While the future, in the form of the present, still hasn’t brought us George Jetson’s flying car, or the much-sought-after personal jet pack, 2014 is likely to be the year we start to see some rather futuristic gadgets. For starters, sometime this year we will witness the wide commercial launch of Google (News - Alert) Glass, the search giant’s wearable computer in the form of “smart glasses.” Other consumer wearable technologies are soon to follow, particularly on the healthcare front.
One product to watch for is what’s being called the world’s first bio-sensing clothing from maker OMsignal. The “smart garments” have been designed to track the wearer’s daily health and wellness through vital signs. Embedded sensors in the garments can measure heart rate, respiration and activity, and send the data to the OMsignal app on your mobile device.
While world-class athletes have been using biosensors in their clothing and in wearable devices, 2014 is expected to be the year these products hit the wider market. If analyst estimates are accurate, it’s likely to become big business very quickly. Market research firm Markets and Markets has predicted that sales of smart clothes and fabrics will reach $2.03 billion by 2018.
Another device that will likely make a splash next year, probably in the fall, is the AIRO wristband. While those of us trying to maintain a fitness regimen and a healthy diet are good at lying to ourselves (as in, “that piece of apple pie was really very small, and I used light whipped cream!”), the AIRO wristband is lie-proof. According to Mashable, the device will be able to automatically keep track of the calories you consume AND quality of the food you eat. (“But I thought that pizza had whole-grain crust! Honestly!”)
Another “can’t lie to it” device we’ll see more of next year is the newly introduced Jawbone UP wristband with built-in vibration and motion sensors that can track and analyze the wearer’s exercise, diet and sleep data. It comes paired with an app for the wearer’s mobile phone that displays movement and sleep details from the device and “delivers insights, celebrates milestones, and challenges you to make each day better,” according to the wristband’s maker. It also has a social media element that allows wearers to share their accomplishments with friends inside the app. (No lying about that five-mile run after work.)
Wearable smart health technology not for you? How about ingestible smart technology? A company called Proteus (News - Alert) is developing an ingestible sensor patients can take alongside their medication, at which time it is activated by the body and can measure the precise dosage and drug absorption rates. It contains no battery and no antenna: it’s actually powered by the patient’s stomach fluids. An accompanying patch captures data related to the drug’s absorption and efficacy as well as vital signs, and ultimately sends the data to your smart phone. By some reports, the system may be available in Europe as early as next year.
While wearable technology may ultimately permeate our entire waking and sleeping day, healthcare is where it’s likely to become big business first. Learn more at two events happening this week. The Wearable Tech Expo begins tomorrow (Tuesday, December 10) at the Hilton Los Angeles/University City. The event will feature keynotes by leaders from adidas Interactive, Fullpower, Plantronics and Vuzix as well as TMC CEO and Group Editor-in-Chief Rich Tehrani (News - Alert), together with interactive exhibits and conference sessions. Collocated with the event, and beginning today (Monday, December 9), is the Fitness & Sports Wearable Technology Conference (FAST) is focused on the newest generation of devices - wearable sports and fitness activity sensors.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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