I’ve always been leery of wearables – those tech devices we wear on our bodies. Sometimes, it just seems a little too much like scary science fiction. That changed when I started using a Fitbit. It’s helping me get more active, and it’s also opening my eyes to the potential of wearables as a tool to improve our emotional and physical well-being.
What is a wearable?
It’s not simply wearable tech, it’s wearable computers. Think smart watch (rather than digital watch) and fitness tracker (rather than pedometer).
According to Warable.com:
“The new age of wearables tap into the connected self – they’re laden with smart sensors, and make use of a web connection, usually using Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your smartphone. They use these sensors to connect to you as a person, and they help you to achieve goals such as staying fit, active, losing weight or being more organised.”
And increasingly, it’s social.
In recent years, tech companies have added social networking applications to their wearables to boost user engagement and sales, reports Fortune.
Take my Fitbit, for example. It shows me how many steps I’ve taken and lets me compare my progress to others in my community. It also allows us to send encouraging messages to each other.
Social networking through Fitbit is helping to motivate. Fitbit users “who have one or more friends take an average of 700 more steps per day,” says Fortune.
My Fitbit is like my own personal trainer. It beeps at me every half hour telling me I need to get moving. And it congratulates me when I’ve exceeded my daily fitness goal. It monitors my heart beat and tells me how many calories I’ve burned.
But wearables can do so much more, suggests the New York Times:
“The health applications are enormous. Over the past year, Mr. Rogers and his team of scientists have been working with patients with Parkinson’s disease to monitor their motions, dermatologists to treat skin diseases, and beauty companies like L’Oréal to develop digital stickers that track skin hydration.”
Wearables could also improve health research. In this 2018 study, researchers found that the use of mobile and wearable technologies in health research, particularly the social networking aspect, could “greatly enhance our understanding of adolescent neurodevelopmental and mental and physical health outcomes in youth.”
The future is wearables
The New York Times predicts that “the next era of computing will be wearables.” They’ll be more like tattoos than glasses (Google learned that lesson), and they could be worn on our skin, inside our bodies or as clothing.
If you could invent a wearable to help you achieve a goal (like getting fit, eating better, improving healthcare, or finding new ways to connect with a community), what would it be?
Twitter: How I learned to love wearables, and why you should too. https://wp.me/p3QRy0-jxR
Facebook: How I learned to love wearables, and why you should too. (Hint: these tiny computers are taking over and experts say that’s going to be good for our health). https://wp.me/p3QRy0-jxR
[Post by Anne Boys]