The Future of Wearables is Now

In terms of tech category explosions, we are in the midst of unprecedented growth as wearable tech has taken our lives by storm. From fitness to nutrition, to sleep, wearable devices can tell us the truth about ourselves whether we like it or not. Yet, all the monitors out there can only give us data. Sure, Fitbit can monitor sleep, but all it can really do is track how many hours you’ve slept, not the real quality of it. Similarly, Jawbone can measure your heart rate, but it can’t tell us why it spiked on a certain day. This is why, in a survey of 6,223 individuals, research firm Endeavor Partners found that “more than half who bought a fitness tracker had stopped using it, with one-third abandoning the tracker within six months.”

Fitbit knows this, CEO James Park says, “Up to this point it’s been about gathering as much data as we can and the presentation and the visualization of that data. Now I think a lot of that effort is going to go into making that data actionable, whether it’s through coaching, insights, or guidance.” At this point, we don’t need more data. In order for wearables to become a habit worth keeping, users are going to want them to have a meaningful impact on their habits. We need devices that will change our lives, whether that’s saving save us time or leading us to good long-term health. In 2016 and beyond, we’re going to see that. CIO, a leading online tech news company, says, “Apps will take advantage of the sensors in activity trackers and give people a cloud-based repository of their info, along with more recommendations for how to improve their health." The key to that statement is the recommendations. Consumers want a device that can tell us that our LDL cholesterol level is too high and be prescriptive rather than descriptive, informing us how to reduce it.

Not some far-flung futuristic ideal, Next -Gen wearables are already happening….

Like something out of a sci-fi movie, Google is hard at work on development of a “smart” contact lens. These lenses will be designed for diabetics and will measure glucose levels in tears using a wireless chip and a sensor. This device can be successful in two ways, first, it solves a need for diabetics, second, the technology is nearly invisible. For wearables to become adopted, they need to become invisible and become embedded in a device that doesn’t scream, “Hey, I have high sugar-levels!” Alternatively, they must look good. Most fitness trackers are made of plastic and look sporty. Newer trackers will change that with companies taking their design cues from fashion to reflect the growing sophistication of consumer tastes. Apple and LG have already bridged the gap with smartwatches that take aesthetic cues from sleek, modern designs, not fitness equipment.

We’re even going to be sleeping differently thanks for technology in the very near future. Oura has created a wellness ring that tracks and analyzes a user's rest and sleep. Already on the market, the device looks like a real ring and packs all of its tech into a tiny package making it one of the most unobtrusive wearables on the market. Wearable Solar is making lightweight wired garments that enable the wearer to charge a smartphone up to 50 percent if worn in the sun for a full hour. This solar-powered clothing makes our lives more convenient because we won’t have to worry that our smartphone batteries will die. Now you’re never going to have an excuse to miss the perfect insta opportunity.

Wearable tech has crossed over into fashion realms as well. Prep god and fashion OG Ralph Lauren is getting into the game. Polo now makes a tech-infused version of their classic polo shirt. Available now and made of silver fibers, the shirt reads heart rate and breathing depth as well as other metrics, which are then streamed to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Whether or not it automatically dries itself if you spill rose on it is unknown. HP is working on tech-influenced wearables with designer Michael Bastian and Intel and Fossil have teamed up for future smartwatch designs. Not to be outdone, old meets new as Google and Levi Strauss are working to create interactive garments that will allow people to do things like send a text message by swiping their jacket cuff. Drunk texting just got that much easier.

There are so many new wearables out there that it will be hard for customers to choose one that fits their lifestyle and yet, the products will begin to integrate so seamlessly into our lives that we may not even know they are there. The speed at which innovation is happening shows no signs of slowing down, and soon the day will come when everything we wear will do something that affects us, or make our lives healthier, or more convenient. From there, when the robots actually take over and kill us all remains to be seen.