The top 10 wearable tech innovations
Wearable tech has evolved far beyond the ability to count your daily steps or check text messages by glancing at your wristwatch. From life-saving devices and ways to monitor chronic conditions to providing seemingly superhuman qualities, wearable tech now offers ways to significantly enhance daily life for people of all walks. This month, BOSS looks at the top wearable tech currently available or coming your way in the near future.
A soft exoskeleton worn on the upper body in conjunction with a VR headset, the FlyJacket allows the wearer to fly drones through intuitive body motions. Leaning forward makes the drone dive, while leaning back makes the drone ascend.
The pilot’s arms are extended by the exoskeleton, providing the sensation of soaring through the air like a bird. Smart gloves allow for controlling takeoff and landing as well as marking notable locations during the flight.
Billed as “your own personal thermostat,” the Embr Wave is a bracelet that instantly warms or cools your body at the push of a button. Such cooling is done by sending warm or cool waves to the sensitive skin on the wrist — cooling or warming the body by 5 degrees.
In addition to providing body temperature control, the wristband can be worn to provide stress relief and the perfect temperature for falling asleep. A mobile app allows users to program cooling or warming sessions by degree and time.
The opioid crisis has made it clear there is a need for drug-free pain relief, which is why Quell’s technology is so exciting. The FDA-approved leg band is worn over the calf, where it provides prescription strength nerve stimulation that triggers a natural pain relief response in the brain.
Quell has two options for the electrodes used to provide nerve stimulation, standard or sport, which has a special gel that is resistant to moisture when subjected to sweat or high levels of humidity.
The MNI uses Vibrotextile™ technology in its harness, wrist bands, and ankle bands to provide vibrations throughout the body and allow the wearer to feel music. Not Impossible calls it a “Surround Body Experience” that wirelessly translates audio to vibrations felt on eight parts of the body.
Originally made to create a robust music experience for the deaf, the creators of this piece of wearable tech also envision a future “where we can appreciate rhythms, intensities, and movements conveyed to the human’s largest organ: the skin.”
Designed to help people lose weight, the Modius headset fits just above the forehead and has two electrode pads that attach behind the user’s ears. The electrodes emit a soft pulse that helps users feel fuller and reduces food cravings.
Intensity can be controlled by a mobile app which also provides a platform for logging weight loss and interacting with and finding support from other users.
Not quite ready to be available commercially, a new fabric developed at the University of Maryland is capable of cooling or heating the body, depending on conditions. The fabric is made of engineered yarn that is comprised of two synthetic fabrics and coated with nanotubes.
When exposed to heat or sweat, the fabric tightens and the nanotubes allow heat to escape and sweat to evaporate. On the other hand, when cold, the fabric expands and the nanotubes close the pores in the material to trap heat. Eventually, this fabric could be used for clothes, bedding, and more.
The wearable sensors created at Northwestern University are described as a “bio-integrated lab” that can be worn on the skin. Working in conjunction with an app, the sensors — in a patch about the thickness of a temporary tattoo — provide insight into athletic performance by collecting data on sweat rate, electrolyte loss, and skin temperature.
Aside from assisting elite athletes, such as the participants of the Iron Man World Championships, who were among the first to wear the device, the sensors could eventually be used as a non-intrusive method of screening for diseases
A hearing aid with artificial intelligence, the Livio AI delivers on its primary purpose of assisting the hard of hearing but adds some interesting bells and whistles courtesy of artificial intelligence. The device contains a gyroscope and an accelerometer to track physical activity that, due to their location in the ear, provide more accurate tracking of activity than those worn on the wrist or kept in the pocket.
The Livio AI also provides language translation and brain health monitoring in the form of tracking when the wearer is actively listening. With such benefits, it’s not hard to imagine the Livio AI appealing to even those with perfect hearing.
The HeartGuide is a wearable blood pressure monitor that provides information on how specific activities affect heart health. Working with the HeartAdvisor app, the wearable tech creates graphs to track trends and other personal data, including sleep habits, to present personalized data that can be compared to recommended healthy levels.
Placing HeartGuide over the wearer’s heart provides a clinically accurate blood pressure reading in 30 seconds. The wearable also tracks steps, distance walked, and calories burned.
The MyEye is a piece of wearable tech that helps blind people gain additional independence. Small enough to attach to most eyeglass frames and able to connect to speakers and headphones via Bluetooth, the MyEye reads digital and print text, and identifies faces, barcodes, and products.
The tech intuitively responds to hand gestures and more than 20 voice commands for easy use without requiring an internet connection. OrCam offers a one-on-one training session and free online tutorials for new users.
As high-tech devices become smaller and less expensive, the wearable tech market looks to expand by leaps and bounds. Not long ago it would have seemed impossible to carry around the technology contained in everyday smartphones. It will be exciting to see the portable technology that emerges over the coming years and decades.
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