In a new presentation at the PSFK conference this weekend, iQ discussed the future of wearables, highlighting many areas that it thinks the technology will branch into and suggesting that the next few years will not be dominated by the current trends of fitness and activity trackers, but something else entirely.
Wearables of the next decade will be split into three distinct categories according to the presentation: person to person contact, such as tracking emotional states or providing data for carers and family to check in on at risk individuals; a person to computer system that draws on an individual’s stats to improve the relationship and a secondary computer to person relationship that gives augmented senses, cloud-based memory storage and an authentication system based around biometrics.
The analytical care aspect of wearables is one that extends to several parts of society: children, the elderly and infirm and athletes. These groups all require care and bio-metric tracking can make a big difference in the type of attention they get, since it can be more targeted and therefore more accurate. We’re already starting to see developments in that area through baby tracking devices like the Mimo and athlete trackers like the Foxtel alert shirt.
These are fairly typical wearables, but used in more applied ways. Manufacturing techniques like 3D printing are helping advance wearable development in other areas such as prosthetic manufacturing. This, combined with simple biometric tracking, is allowing for much better, bespoke artificial limbs to be created for amputees and similar.
However from making us more human, to making us something more than that, certain sensors and hybrid technologies are allowing for the creation of people that are more advanced than before. Laser eye surgery has long allowed people to see better than those that have 20/20 vision, but in the future, we might see people with zoooming capabilities or the ability to see in the dark, thanks to contact lenses with new sensors in them.
Like the film Her, where we saw much more integrated electronics in the world, the future is likely to involve more natural communication between humans and computers. As voice controls become more prevalent, we’ll need a wearable to handle them, which is where future generations of smart headphones come in. To make sure it’s you talking, these headphones could take a voice signature and compare it to a stored track of you talking in a variety of ways. Similarly, other wearable devices are tracking other biometrics like your heart signature and comparing that against your live one to make sure you’re you.
These are bold ideas, but ones we’ve seen previously in hinted at developments, as well as many science fiction programs and movies, so the potential is there and the future of wearables is certainly exciting. What do you guys think the next-big development in wearables will be?