“Technology of the future” is a commonly overused phrase. Nevertheless, it describes many aspects of modern everyday life quite well. From the perspective of the 80s and 90s, technological development achieved such an incredible scope of international and interpersonal connectivity that wasn’t even dreamt about. The benefits of it are enjoyed not only by the most influential groups in the world but also by common people, mostly in wearable technology. But to understand it better, it’s necessary to dive a bit into IoT’s philosophy — the Internet of Things.
- What is the Internet of Things?
- What has wearability to do with IoT?
- The most popular wearable devices in the market
- Smart clothes. Do you need them?
What is the Internet of Things?
IoT, as a term, was coined in the ’90s. Its definition has changed a bit over the years, but the consensus defines it as a “network of physical objects”, which can connect exchange data via the internet. Sounds simple? In theory, it is. But in reality, it fundamentally changes how people interact with some everyday objects.
A wristwatch now can measure blood pressure and send medical data on a smartphone. A ceiling light can serve as a Bluetooth gateway for smart thermometers (which can also measure humidity). An Android or iOS app now knows about your sleep quality a lot more than you do (via smartwatch or smart band). And it sends notifications about it. This is the Internet of Things in its pure form.
What has wearability to do with IoT?
Wearable electronic devices can be described as a branch of IoT. They are mostly developed based on everyday objects like watches, bands, clothes (shoes, shirts, belts), jewellery (smart rings) or other things like keychain additions. Multiple companies have made breakthroughs in popularizing this technology (like Apple, Samsung and Huawei with smartwatches or smart bands). Wearable technology aims to expand the functionality of the objects on which they’re based on. The bigger this expansion is, the more interconnected a particular object is.
The clothing industry (in the case of wearability) still has a lot of room to develop new ideas. There are no major international companies that monopolized this niche — the most interesting products of this category usually come from independent and highly innovative companies. This allows for free and unrestrained competition with a constant flow of new functions, design and dedicated smartphone apps.
The most popular wearable devices in the market
It seems that the most successful wearable is the smartwatch. The traditional watch as a concept and item (along with the purpose it serves) is deeply entrenched in many cultures, making a smartwatch quite an easy object to market and sell. Probably most people in the world of any age have had a watch at some point — this cannot be said even about video games, desktop computers or laptops.
But there is another type of everyday objects which are subject to wearable expansions — clothes. The miniaturization of chips and integrated circuits has made it possible to embed “smart” functionality basically into any object. The next step on this innovative road is probably a smart tattoo, a complicated, ultra-thin set of chips to be glued directly onto the skin.
Smart clothes. Do you need them?
The answer is ambiguous: it depends. If you’re a passionate runner, you could buy a pair of stylish boots that track your GPS and calculate running distance. But at the same time, this set of functions can be easily provided by a smartwatch. But in case of heart monitoring, clothes could have a significant advantage over smartwatches because heart rate sensors in them are placed closer to your chest, providing more accurate measurements.
But there is one feature exclusive to one wearable only — it is body heating, provided by smart heated jackets made by such manufacturers as Jay23. These clothes, designed with gaming aesthetics in mind, can provide uninterrupted fabric heat powered by rechargeable batteries and controlled via Bluetooth with a dedicated smartphone app.
It’s one of the latest inventions of wearable technology that’s worth checking out. Jay23’s heated hoodies and smart jackets (from the Pro series) perfectly fit other wearables and are great, practical additions to frosty winters, long bicycle trips or traveling.