Go back just a few years and fitness trackers and other wearable tech didn’t exist as we know it today. There were no wristbands tracking your steps, heart rate or sleep patterns. And yet, today, with what has gone before during these past years, we have the luxury of predicting a level of technology that may have seemed hard to comprehend now only a matter of years or even months away.
From enhanced trackers and smartwatches to the seemingly impossible chips in brains and more. We’re living in an age of science-fiction become reality. At some point down the road, ethics will also become a huge factor in the development of more sophisticated technology, but for now, let’s just enjoy the thought of some remarkable future devices, some of which are already in the works.
Although this isn’t all that far-fetched, it is still worth noting. We’ve already seen the likes of smart rings that track your health with heart rate and sleep monitoring. Now, with additional items such as a pair of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more, you can look the part while still being able to track all those vital health stats you’re interested in.
Watches and fitness trackers have already become fashion pieces for many, so smart jewellery is the logical next step in the wearable tech evolution.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the Boston Robotics parkour robots over the past year. For some, it leaves a feeling of glee and enthusiasm for the future. For others, it’s a terrifying glimpse of the slippery slope to a Terminator-style doomsday event around the corner. That said, the company working on these robots have also been working on smart prosthetics.
These prosthetics aren’t just there to look aesthetic but, instead, perform a function of the limb or digit it is meant to replace. In some instances, it could also do more than conventional tasks, enabling wearers to do a lot more with the additional power and strength it can provide. Another company also working on such technology is MIT Media Lab.
The military has been a big proponent of intelligent prosthetics – it’s not hard to understand why. With the possibility of a stronger soldier in the field, it’s a clear incentive to invest heavily in this area. Tying into the likes of prosthetics is that of the exoskeleton. The idea was originally to enable those with some level of paralyses to continue life as normal, now opens up the possibility of the super-soldier as well.
There’s no doubt that prosthetics will form part of the future of wearable tech too.
As strange as it seems to think, this is no longer something from a sci-fi film – and we’ve seen many. Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink Corporation, has been investing and experimenting with neural technology, placing a chip into the brain to perform specific functions.
Earlier this year, Musk showcased the enablement of a monkey to play the game, Pong, using only its mind to control the movements. The idea behind this technology is to assist those paralysed to be able to communicate and perform functions with mere thoughts via their mobiles and computers. This will, indeed, be a breakthrough in the healthcare industry.
The scary end of this is the potential risk of being hacked. While any technology connected to any network runs the risk of being taken over through hacking, it’s far scarier to consider that someone could hack your brain.
Cerebral chips are definitely part of the future of wearable tech.
There are two aspects to this research. The first is more of a figurative usage of the term “smart skin”. This is a tight-fit bodysuit that one wears ‘like skin’ that tracks your health metrics throughout the day. It’s something that would be worn daily under your clothing without the need for additional wearables such as fitness trackers, watches or even smart jewellery.
The second of these is a lot more literal – actual smart skin. This is tissue that has been printed that is then attached to a person. The technology has been tested on animals where tissues were created and attached to then start tracking various stats.
This technology can be used on burn victims, for example, where skin grafts are required and can be used to assist the healing process. In other instances, it could be used as a tracker, monitoring movements and other biometric stats.
Technically, most wearables form some part of clothing. However, there are companies working on designing clothes such as jackets, pants, shoes and more than could be the future of wearables.
One such company working in this field is Nextiles. The idea here is to blend traditional stitching and sewing techniques to create advanced circuit boards that form part of the clothing. These stitches are flexible in nature and allow sensors to be placed anywhere on the clothing to track activities, heart rate, sleep and much more. It was designed to gather stats from data collected through various biometric technologies added to the clothes.
One of the key areas of growth in the wearable tech industry is how to keep those tracking devices powered for longer. While battery technology has seen great strides recently, with some wearables having 2-3 weeks’ worth of charge, there’s still more room for growth.
In the next leap forward, we can expect wearables to start moving towards being continuously charged as they’re being used throughout the day. One of the first such technologies is to have batteries charged through devices in your shoes and other clothing. The natural motion of the person would be converted into energy and saved in the battery banks. This would then be used to power your wearables, including your smartwatch, fitness tracker or smart jewellery.
There’s also the more obvious solar recharging. However, one would need to be out in the sun more often, with manufacturers also needing to find novel ways to make the panels wearable to be able to make it a natural part of your daily apparel. Just try to avoid being caught in the rain and running the risk of an electric shock or two.