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Will Wearable Technology Bring the Next Future Wave?
Choi Yoon Ji  |  yoonji5894@korea.ac.kr
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승인 2014.06.03  16:28:38
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Wearable technology devices are becoming hot commodities. Starting with Samsung introducing its Galaxy Gear and Apple inventing a watch type mobile phone, the iWatch, wearable devices are likely to dominate the IT market in the near future. This is no surprise. Many wearable devices are in development or already available in markets.

   
▲ Calculator is the first worn electric devices, and it was influenced from the idea of PDA. provided by wikipedia.com

Wearable technology started from the development of wearable computers and ubiquitous computing technology. The ubiquity of computer technology in people’s daily lives has led to the development of wearable technology that is people-friendly and diversely functioned.

Introduced in the 1980s, the calculator watch was the first wearable device. It was the first worn electronic piece that had a computing technology. It became a viral sensation when it was introduced to the public. With the start of the calculator watch, various types of wearable devices have been invented.

Later on, more designed wearable products were mainly in forms of clothes. Spy tie, is a necktie, which features a tiny pinhole spy camera hidden in its pattern. It can record videos at 12 frames per second. It can also be directly plugged into a USB port for transferring files to PC. USB-heated gloves are another example. They are manufactured to keep one’s hands warm through charging it when plugged in.

Likewise, people got more interested in this new concept of actually wearing the devices. Main IT companies started to come up with products that were customized for people according to their diverse needs.

Most people wanted to use their devices hands-free. Designed for drivers and runners, wearables applied real time feedback for athletes. Not only that, the devices are helping the public so that there is no need to carry the devices anymore. They can now wear it. The decline in wearable devices’ market price and the relatively low cost of processing power is encouraging their widespread adoption and availability.

 

   
▲ Spy tie was made in a form of a necktie, with camera attached inside. provided by hotspygadgets.com

How far did the wearable technology go?

Wearable technology is continuing to grow and adapt to the ever-changing needs of the world. The most common case is the combination of fashion and IT. Since the devices are designed to be worn, they have to be fashionable enough for people to want to wear them. In North America, fashion companies are working to come up with the best fashion designs for wearable devices, to make them as natural as possible. Their motto is, “Do not make people look like robots.” They think that in order for wearable device to gain popularity, they have to satisfy the different personal styles of consumers.

Galaxy Gear is now a product that accounts for 71 percent of the Smart Watch market. In order to boost their sales, Samsung has worked hard on making its design as attractive as possible. With diversifying its design with various color, Samsung also made a collaboration fashion show with Moscchino in Paris last year. The design and the models made people feel friendlier towards the new technology.

 

   
▲ Samsung is unveiling their new Galaxy Gear Neo, making a significant move into the wearable world. provided by The Washingtonpost

Nike Fuel Band Plus is also another case. The product was a result of collaboration between Nike and wearable technology. People who need extra motivation to work out use the devices. A drawback is that it does not suit a formal suit or dress. So, it is used mostly when they are working out.

The use of wearable technology in medical field is also on the rise. Wearable devices are used to help the disabled. In fact, robot arms and legs, which are called “exo-skeleton,” help the amputees to have a new body part. As these medical wearable devices come to market, they have the potential to help both patients and clinicians monitor vital signs and symptoms. Experts say such devices will likely transform medical care in unimagined ways. From headsets that measure brainwaves to clothes that incorporate sensing devices, personal health monitoring would be the future that will come with the development of wearable medical technology.

 

   
▲ The Google Glass is now becoming a sensational product, and is making a lot of controversies.provided by guradianlv.com

The Drawbacks Behind This Fever

However, nothing in the world is perfect. Wearable devices are also facing a few problems. The first is "privacy" and second is the high cost. Recently in the United States (U.S.), there was a debate over whether or not Google Glass should be banned in public places. This was primarily because of the potential infringement on people’s privacy. Opponents say the video and camera feature a possibility for misuse, that one could be recording another person in a public place without their knowledge.

“Privacy issues are common things that come up when it comes to evaluating a new technology. This is obvious. Privacy and Information Technology always go together. But the problem is that we have to find a sound balance between those two,” said Professor Lee Seung Hwan (Department of Electrical Engineering)

The high cost of wearable devices is another problem. Devices at an average price of 1,500 dollars are not normally things that everyone can afford. The price is making the technology out of reach of the public. Despite its drawbacks, wearable technology is still emerging as the next-generation IT, following smartphone technology. “Experts in this field, generally say that BMW will most likely dominate the future market: ‘Bio,’ ‘Mobile,’ and ‘Wearable,’” said Lee.

Wearable computing technology, is sure to become the new big axis in IT industry. Although it is not certain whether the public would be open to using a new technology, more research will be done in this field and will be more accessible to the public. “At the moment, it is true that a lot of people do not feel the necessity to own a wearable device when they actually have a smartphone. But the research in this field is actively being done by big manufacturing companies. The time will come when those companies will start to commercialize their products,” added Lee.

Lee predicts, "Major concerns are that people might be tired of being surrounded by more technology." Yet medical fields and even non-medical fields will benefit from using wearable technology. It will likely bring the next generation of technology which can aid people who are suffering from blindness, deafness and also body part paralysis.

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