For some of us, the phrase “wearable tech” conjures up images of the terribly embarrassing pocket protectors of the 1980s, even if those weren’t strictly considered “tech.”
And let’s face it, back before the days of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, individuals who wore pocket protectors or other “techie” items probably wouldn’t have to worry about overbooking their velcro calendars with hot dates or social events.
Oh, how times have changed. As the Agence France-Presse (AFP) informs us, wearable tech is now getting a long overdue makeover, as Internet-linked computers are woven into formerly brainless attire such as glasses, bracelets and shoes.
“We are heading for the wearable computing era,” Gartner analyst Van Baker told the AFP. “People are going to be walking around with personal area networks on their bodies and have multiple devices that talk to each other and the Web.”
Indeed, a Forrester Research survey conducted early this year determined that 6 percent of US adults wore a gadget to track performance in a sport, while five percent used a device to track daily activity or how well they sleep. Unsurprisingly, worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices could climb as high as 30 million units this year.
“It is just amazing. We will see an exciting future ahead. Contextually aware computers will be hot topics for at least the next decade,” engineering professor Asim Smailagic, director of a wearable computer lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, told the publication.
“They can help you when you need help, even to look smarter. Everybody likes to have the kind of help contextual computing can provide. When you combine wearable computing with sensors and machine learning algorithms then you get context, the computer knows your state and is able to help out clearly in the situation.”
As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel is right in the middle of the wearable tech revolution. First off, Atmel’s SAM4S and tinyAVRMCUs are inside the Agent smart-watch (pictured above) which recently hit Kickstarter. Atmel MCUs have also tipped up in a number of Maker projects for wearable tech, like the LED pocket watch we featured earlier this week.
Of course, wearable tech also ties into the Internet of Things (IoT), which refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. Today, it’s estimated that there are nearly 10 billion devices in the world connected to the Internet, a figure expected to triple to nearly 30 billion devices by 2020.
“Traditional technology companies will have to start paying attention to how sensors are enabling us to live,” added Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at NPD. “Consumers are ultimately going to become more aware of their data in the digital ether. I suspect wearables are going to disrupt the way tech firms are doing business now.”