By Simon Frid.
When Tron debuted in 1982, many of us imagined a future filled with luminescent sleek motorcycles and light-dashing uniforms. While hopefully the electric car concept is in development, the fashion of the future is not what we expected. Despite the media hype, the future of wearable tech, at least for now, is in providing access to information about the body, as pertaining to movement, sleep, fitness, biometrics or health management.
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending the second Wearable Technologies Conference at Fort Mason, San Francisco. The conference was packed with startups and big technology companies alike. Speakers were organized in four major themes: Sports & Fitness, New Interfaces & Innovative Technologies, Consumer Gadgets, and Health, however, many of the speakers arguably fit in multiple categories.
Keynote speaker Volker Pruller of Texas Instruments, and many others, described how increasingly cheaper technology, a revolution in wireless capability, and design focused execution will enable a new generation of wearable technologies. Companies like Pebble, Zeo, MC10, SenseTech, and LUMOBack have products in the market (or in production) that follow this manifesto.
Among the standout presenters, was MIT Professor in Electrical Engineering and wearable technology pioneer Joseph Paradiso. Dr. Paradiso has been developing smart wristwatches that optimize lighting and heating conditions in building based on body positions. By using small sensors, Dr. Paradiso can dramatically improve the energy use of large buildings and visualize the real-time conditions of the building.
When Google announced Project Glass, the tech world was hammed with headlines paraphrasing “Wearable Technology Is the Next Big Thing”. Despite the media hype, the majority of the companies attending were not interested in eyewear or wearable cameras. Surprisingly, most of the products aimed to provide access to information about the body, as pertaining to movement, sleep, fitness, biometrics or health management. Given of the apparent diversity of applications, the Do-It-All uniform from Sci-Fi couldn’t further from reality. Companies are focusing on niche applications using wearable and wireless as a form factor.
Simon Frid is a wearable technology enthusiast, life scientist, and entrepreneur . He is currently working on venture by name of Wingspan, which is developing motion capture technology for sports and health. You can follow him on Twitter as @fridicuou5.