Wearable technology has exploded in popularity in recent years. Also known as wearables, these portable devices integrate computing technology and can be worn on your body. From smart watches to virtual reality headsets, wearables perform a wide range of functions. If you’re not yet familiar with the major categories of wearable tech, keep reading to learn about six different types you should know.
One of the most common wearable devices is the fitness tracker. Fitness trackers monitor your activity, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more to provide insights into your health habits. Popular models like the Fitbit track steps taken, calories burned, floors climbed, and activity duration and intensity. They encourage an active lifestyle by setting fitness goals and reminding you when it’s time to move. Many trackers are wrist-worn, but they also come as rings, earbuds, and clothing clips.
Slightly more advanced than basic fitness trackers are smart watches. While they still track fitness metrics, smart watches have a range of other functions through connectivity with your smartphone and apps. You can get notifications, view messages, make payments, set reminders, control smart home devices, stream music, and much more, all from your wrist. The Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch are two dominant smart watch products.
Augmented Reality Glasses
Augmented reality (AR) glasses take wearable technology to an immersive new level. AR overlays digital information onto the real environment around you. AR glasses like Google Glass display relevant audio, visual, and sensory cues right before your eyes. This allows for heads-up educational content, mechanical and technical assistance, health metrics, directions, social connection, photography enhancement, and spatial detection of surrounding objects.
Earbuds and headphones are evolving into sophisticated wearable devices called hearables. Companies are putting biometric sensors, microphones, speakers and voice assistants into earbuds that track health data and environmental context. Some hearables from companies like Nuheara and Olive Union integrate with smart assistants to let you control your smartphone and smart home through voice commands spoken into your earbuds.
Exoskeletons and Prosthetics
Exoskeletons and prosthetics exemplify wearable technology with a healthcare purpose. An exoskeleton is a framework of mechanical parts that supports and protects the human body. Exoskeletons can enable those without use of their legs to walk. And intelligent prosthetics replace missing limbs with robotic ones that neural signals can control like a natural appendage. Both technologies kann restore mobility and freedom.
At the most advanced end of wearable tech is virtual reality (VR). VR headsets like the Oculus transport you to fully immersive digital worlds by displaying stereoscopic 3D environments. Using head, hand, and eye tracking sensors, you can explore and interact with VR worlds by moving your body and looking around, just as you would in real reality. This creates an incredibly life-like experience for gaming, training, virtual travel and more.
From fitness trackers to AR glasses and exoskeletons to VR headsets, wearable technology comes in diverse forms, each providing different capabilities. But all wearables make technology ultra-personal and convenient by integrating it directly onto the body. As these devices become increasingly intelligent and interconnected, wearables will grant us enhanced access to information and experiences at a glance or simple voice command. The future looks incredibly promising as wearable tech’s presence in our lives steadily expands.