Wearable Tech: How well do we know what we are wearing?
As computing technology has increased in function and ability, so too have its tendencies toward more personal and individual use.
From the advent of general- and commercial-use computers like ENIAC and UNIVAC, consumers have seen computers grow in power while decreasing in size requirement from rooms to desktops to the palm of one’s hand.
In this modern age, consumers now see computers in a place only seen before with on-screen spies and imagined futures: on their bodies.
Though wearable technology was around since programmable watches in the 1970s, the introduction of Google Glass to the public conscious in the early 2010s brought the concept of wearable technology to the masses on a broader scale.
Glass features a touchpad for controlling the device, a camera that can record videos in 720p HD, 12 gigabytes of usable memory and a high-resolution display equivalent to a 25-inch high definition screen observed from eight feet away.
In short, the capabilities of this device surpass many computers from a decade or two ago—and it all rests on the bridge of a user’s nose.
Alongside Glass, other wearable face technologies such as EyeTap, Golden-i and Looxcie have provided potential users with the ability to capture photos, provide head-up displays and other basic computer uses.
Since the launch of Google Glass in 2012, many companies waited to see what would happen with the fringe technology such as this one. However, some companies entered a different world of wearable tech—smartwatches.
Taking the lead of Glass, companies such as Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm took to formatting the basic properties of smartphones for the face of a wristwatch.
With models such as the Galaxy Gear, SmartWatch 2, and Toq, the companies leapt into the wearable tech market in 2013. The next year’s Consumer Electronics Show featured even more smartwatches showcasing even more capabilities.
2014 also featured the announcement of Cuff, marketed as a stylish alternative to personal security. Cuff, which ships in Fall 2014, was shown to sync with a user’s smartphone and provide the user’s protective circle with the location details needed to find the user.
Devices like Glass, smartwatches and Cuff have all followed the trend of advanced technologies mentioned earlier. Collectively, they have added to the pool of what a computer can do while becoming more personal in size and use.
While many people show praise for these new advancements, many others show weariness, hearkening back to the equal-yet-disparate dystopias of George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” where governments use technologies to control societies with omnipresence or blissful automaticity, respectively.
Personally, I see neither of these series of unfortunate events occurring any time soon. While there is a lot that could happen with technology closer at our fingertips and on our bodies, what will happen now falls short of those expectations in my opinion.
In fact, as of right now, the technology seems as though it is adding on to how we live our daily lives. Social media is now at our retinas and wrists, and a call for help is a touch of a covertly-hidden button away.
However, what the future could hold is as nebulous as it was when Glass first came out. App developers are still trying to figure out the ins and outs of app creation for wearable tech. Even tech developers are trying to perfect the art of wearing a product.
So, as of right now, my worry does not involve what can happen with government control or how invasive or impersonal this technology could make us in the future. My concern involves how we can use this technology for our own personal betterment.
Before we can speculate on the tech we wear on our bodies, we need to know it like the back of our hands.
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