Abstract [G2] Until 1961, the first wearable computer developed

Abstract

 

Wearable technology has been growing rapidly in the last few
years. This growth has been changing the trend from computing technology to the
fields closely related to people’s daily lives. This essay briefly summaries
the history of wearable technology and demonstrates its challenges and
application areas over time. It also predicts the next generation of wearable
technology.

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Introduction

 

“Wearable technology or wearables are smart electronic
devices with micro-controllers that can be worn on the body as implants or
accessories.” This is the definition from Wikipedia. Thus, a device that can be
called “wearable technology” needs to have three requirements:

·     
It’s wearable.

·     
It has the ability to independently compute.

·     
It has specific and technical applications and
functions other than being used as accessories.

Nowadays, wearable technology is very popular and crucial in
the field of ubiquitous computing. As professor Gregory Abowd mentioned in his
paper, to be “ubicomp” means putting computing into the real world; leveraging
existing infrastructure to create new services that scale to a broad form of
use; and appreciating the need for integrative, multidisciplinary research.

Wearable technology has been penetrating into our daily lives, and smart
devices like smartwatches are integrating more functions inside instead of
being just a watch. Also, wearable technology has been involved in multiple
research areas, such as fitness and healthcare, entertainment, and retail.

 

The state of the
field

 

While we think of wearable technology, we often think of
smartwatches and fitness trackers, the first wearables data back much further
than that. Actually, during the 17th century in China, creative people had
invented abacus rings. Another early example is pocket watches invented in
Europe as a popular status symbol. At that time, wearables mainly focused on
implemG1 enting
other functions into accessories and being controlled by users. G2 

 

Until 1961, the first wearable computer developed by MIT
professors, Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon taking wearables to another level.

Interestingly, the wearable computer was used to calculate better odds for
gambling. Over the next couple of decades, several devices modernized wearable
technology, such as calculator wristwatch. However, wearables in this phase
mainly focused on realizing functionalities while the appearance could be
strange and impractical.

 

Today, the core purpose of wearables still hasn’t changed
much, but with advanced technologies, we are able to build more multifunctional
and practical devices beyond just mechanical operation. With the rapid
development of sensors, wearables G3 have
become the most popular technology in health, entertainment, retail and other
fields. Also, industries put more focus on product appearance. Products like
Fitbit or Apple Watch can be really useful and also used as fashion
accessories.

 

Main challenge

 

Back in 18th and earlier, the biggest challenge
that wearables faced was restrained in mechanic. Without computing technology,
it was limited in simple functions. After the wearable computer was invented,
the challenge became G4 the
size of components. To accomplish their functions, wearables were usually big
and unsuitable to wear on the body.

 

Today, the challenge has become the following aspects:

·     
Personalize. Accessories are always personal and
fashionable, but most manufacturers are focused on technology rather than on
design.

·     
Power. With the rapid growth of wearable
technology, the high power consumption of smart wearable devices becomes an
issue.

·     
Data privacy and security. Most wearable devices
are small in size, but still able to store a large amount of data. Also, many companies can retrieve this
information, which can cause a disruption in work for users. G5 G6 G7 

·     
Input. Despite the small sizes of wearables, it
leads a new problem that it’s hard to use traditional input method in them. The
Ubicomp Lab at Georgia Tech and The HCI Lab at Tsing Hua University have been
working on creating new interactive technologies to tackle this problem.

 

Application areas

 

As a sub-area of ubiquitous computing, wearable technology
is involved in many fields.  Sports and fitness
is the biggest application market. Products like Fitbit and Apple Watch are
already popular among people. This cannot be apart from the fact that people
care about their health and have the need to lead a healthier life.

 

Next is entertainment. Wearables combined with AR/VR really
expand the game market. Jumping out of mobile and PC, technologies like
Injustice and An Ant’s Life start to provide more authentic experience for
people.

 

Currently, the trend is starting to focus on lifestyle and
fashion.  For example, Kino enables both
aesthetic and functional clothing-specific design possibilities, and Jinyi Wang
from Stockholm University also explored new design space of technologies and
materials that account for aesthetics beyond traditional fabric.

 

One should be mentioned is that fitness is still a big focus
now, but scientists start to pay more attention to healthcare and wellness. They
have been developing wearables that sense people’s emotion and mental health,
such as BioWear designed by Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, and All the Feels by
Raquel Robinson.

 

With advanced sensing technology, the direction of wearable
technology has transited from accomplishing computing development to catering
people’s daily needs. And these needs are also transiting from basic to a high
level.G8 

 

 

The future of
wearable technology

 

As professor Gregory Abowd said in his paper, all of three
previous generations suggest a division between the computing device and the
individual. The fourth generation needs no longer abide by that division. Our
own physical G9 being and our
sense of identity are no longer easily distinguished from elements of
computing. Likewise, wearables will also conform to this trend. The field of G10 IoT has undergone significant growth in the
last few years. Wearables will join this army, becoming an inseparable part
around us.G11 

 

Tech experts will also apply more advanced technologies into
wearables. One promising technology is artificial intelligence. A wearable
virtual assistant will keep your life organized.

 

Wearables definitely have a long way to go and it’s very
promising. 

 

Conclusion

 

This essay briefly summarizes the history of wearable
technology: from using mechanic technology to build simple wearables during the
17th century to the 19th century that focused on
technology realization, until now, developing more applications and expanding
to multiple fields.

 

It also discusses main challenges that
wearable technology faced over time: from getting over the technology
realization to inappropriate size and leading to today’s challenges, including
personalize, power, data security, and input.G12 G13 

 

In addition, this essay summarizes several major application
areas: fitness, entertainment, lifestyle and fashion, and high-level health
care.

 

In the end, I also predict the future of wearable technology
will be a world of IoT. Combined with other technologies like Artificial
Intelligence, wearable technology will be a crucial part of intelligence
interconnection.

 

References

 

 

 

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