In today’s digital world the term ‘wearable’ has a new meaning. Ten years ago, when someone mentioned the word ‘wearable’, the first thing that came into your mind was an image of a t-shirt or a nice dress. Rather, today it brings up images of accessories such as a smart watch or a fitness tracking device. Wearables are used in many areas and not only for fun. They can be used to keep first responders safe and alive by monitoring their physical conditions and their environment. For example, when the wearable detects a dangerous gas, an alert can be issued: the wearable tells the first responder to put on a gas mask. This way of applying wearables could save lives.
Another popular wearable, maybe as lifesaving, is the fitness tracking device. These devices can, among other things, calculate the number of steps you’ve walked, how many calories you’ve burned, how many floors you’ve climbed, and the number of your active minutes. The use of a fitness tracking device can be motivating and can give more insight in people’s behavior during the day. According to a study on wearable technology from the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London, 71% of Americans and 63 of Brits said that wearable tech has improved their health and fitness. Another function of many fitness tracking devices is sleep tracking, which will monitor the quality of your night’s rest and wake you up each morning with a vibrating alarm.
These wearables can also provide us a lot of interesting data. For example, On August 24th at 3.20am, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 struck Northern California. Many people were awakened by this earthquake. Strikingly, it is possible to identify the epicenter by measuring the disrupted sleep suffered by thousands of people in the area who use a sleep-tracking device made by Jawbone. The company spotted trends in how long it took people to return to their slumber, and noted that 45% of people within 15 miles of the epicenter were unable to go back to sleep at all.
The Economist (2014) Shaking up the wearables. Available: http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21613925-potential-market-personal-fitness-tracking-devices-over-hyped-shedding-wearables. Last accessed 20-10-2014.
Nusca, A. (2013) 13 eye-opening figures about wearable tech. Available: http://www.zdnet.com/13-eye-opening-figures-about-wearable-tech-7000016421/. Last accessed 20-10-2014.
Sazonov, E. & Neuman, N. R (2014) Wearable Sensors: fundamentals, implementation and applications . Oxford: Elsevier Inc.