The current landscape for wearables is an obvious one. Quite literally, as whether you look at Netflix’ joke smartwatch or Apple’s very real one, the displays, wristbands and visual stylings mean one of the very real points of a wearable is that it’s visible. But that may not be how they are in the future, as if we use our already display equipped smartphones to view all of the data and the sensors inside wearables get smaller, could those big wrist straps and wearable displays disappear entirely?
This is what the guys over at Reuters have been talking about and they points at the likes of the Bragi Dash bluetooth wearables as a sign of the future. Already that’s a wearable that’s out of sight and out of mind, simply by plugging into your ear. Imagine one in the future though where they slip into your ear and you can’t even feel them, or sit on your cheek bone where it uses conduction to send the sound through to your ear drums.
Again, it’s a wearable you never see.
Bragi’s Nikolaj Hviid believes this sort of future will lead to a whole new type of wearable technology that’s less a wearable and more like a “disappearable”. The biggest benefits of these he says will be in the medical field. What once were hundreds of sticky sensors with cables attached to a patient in a hospital bed, will become a series of invisible, wireless sensors that no longer make a person look like they’re on their death bed. They may not even need to be physically attached to the person, but could be built into their hospital gown or their own clothes even, letting them feel far more normal and therefore helping remove the stigma of being ill – which has been shown in some cases to aid recovery.
This sort of technology is already in development though. Look to Google, where it’s developing glucose sensing contact lenses, or Proteus Digital Health, which is developing an edible sensor powered by stomach acids that can send back information via bluetooth.
As sensors become smaller and smaller, they have the potential to be powered by the human body itself, which means batteries aren’t necessary and that’s where the real breakthroughs can begin, as that’s almost always one of the bulkiest parts of a design.
Still, as advanced as all this is, convincing the public to wear them will be the hard part, as there are many who would be sceptical of such technology. Not us though, obviously.
Image sources: Google, Proteus