Tech EM: Wearables

January 19, 2015 | Event Technology

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Researchers are working hard to blur the distinction between us and our technology into the background…or at least into our clothes. So-called wearable technologies are devices and materials that function not only as digital tools, but also as articles of clothing, seamlessly integrating functionality with our wardrobe. This growing field can be broken into three broad categories; Fashion, Fitness, and Communication. Read on to learn more about the potential applications of each as well as currently available options.


Fashion
Fashion has always been about creativity...and smart fabrics are no exception. The development of digitally active materials allows designers to create clothing that produces its own light and motion, and someday may display high resolution images (imagine a t-shirt that can be programmed with image and video-based designs and patterns). The makers behind Disney's TRON outfits didn't just imagine this, they put it production.


Fitness
Health and fitness use is one of the earliest areas of implementation of wearable technologies. The proximity of the body with data sensing makes wearable technologies a natural fit for a host of uses from recording biometric workout information and alleviating physical ailments to competing with friends virtually. Small startups like Misfit and FitBit along with Nike and its FuelBand are just some of the fitness focused wearables in the market today.


Communication
The pitfalls of mobile communication are varied, but among the top problems are battery life, signal level and the increased size of smart devices. Wearable technology researchers are working on solutions to these problems that literally involve the shirts on our back. How many times have you had to crouch into a corner in order get proper reception on your phone? Researchers at Ohio State University are developing fabrics that incorporate multiple cell phone antennas that are durable, invisible and promote vastly improved reception.


When you include new products like smartwatches and Google Glass and then combine all of these innovations with other embedded technologies, you have insight into what researchers perceive as the future for communication; where what we wear is integrated with what we do.




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Posted by Jamie Barlow | Request as a Speaker

Devoted creative servant and quiet sage of technology. Inspired by nature and motivated by mediocrity. Digital team lead @sparksmarketing.