When most people think of wearable technology, they probably imagine a FitBit or an Apple Watch. Fitness trackers are popular, cheap, and found almost everywhere.
While these are fantastic applications for this type of technology, there are many more often overlooked uses for wearable devices that can help keep people safe, improve their quality of life, and so much more. Let’s look at 10 of the most amazing uses of wearable technology.
The average office worker sits for up to 15 hours a day. Whether they’re working on a computer, sitting on an assembly line, or doing one of the millions of other possible tasks, they often end up hunched over tasks or keyboards. Sitting like this for long periods of time contributes to poor posture which can cause back pain and other problems.
Wearable posture trainers adhere to the center of the user’s back and transmit information to a companion app about their current posture and correct it for a healthier lifestyle.
Everyone experiences fatigue in their life, but there are times – like behind the wheel or when operating heavy equipment – where fatigue can be dangerous or even fatal. New wearable devices can detect fatigue in the wearer by monitoring various biomedical signals. This type of technology can help prevent accidents at work or incidents while driving.
It seems like a small thing to worry about, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compared driving after 24 hours without sleep to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10%which would be over the legal driving limit if the driver were drinking instead of sleep deprived.
The Apple Watch is usually advertised as a fitness accessory, but it has other life-saving features. Starting with Series 4, Apple added a heart rate monitor that acts as a single-lead ECG (electrocardiogram). The device has helped many people discover irregularities in their heartbeatsleading to an official diagnosis when presented to a medical professional.
The device’s SOS function can also help save lives when a person is alone and unable to reach their phone. Automatic fall detection can also send a call for help if the wearer falls and becomes unresponsive.
Robotics in manufacturing has come a long way in the past two decades, even to the point that it can work alongside humans safely. However, there are always situations where it’s dangerous for a human to get too close to the action, and that’s where wearable proximity sensors come in.
These simple wearable devices can clip onto a vest or belt and alert machines if someone strays too close, triggering an automatic shutdown. Safety sensors have been shown to reduce accidents at work an average of 52%.
One of the biggest challenges that patients often face is that by the time they go to the doctor, the symptoms of their illness have faded. At this point, it becomes more difficult for professionals to make a definitive diagnosis.
Instead of guessing or scheduling an appointment that coincides with a flare-up, wearable technology can remotely collect patient vital signs. Coupled with a secure HIPAA-compliant app, these devices can fill in the blanks and make it easier for doctors to collect information to diagnose and provide treatment options.
There is nothing more complicated than having to spend time in a hospital, especially if there is no discharge in sight. Wearable technology — especially virtual reality (VR) headsets — can help improve comfort and quality of life for patients while they spend time in hospitals.
With a VR headset, patients can visit any location in the world and even try out various experiences they haven’t had before, such as cliff diving or skydiving, all in comfort. and the safety of their hospital bed.
Before introducing wearable augmented reality (AR) headsets, assembling a spacecraft required a huge assembly manual with step-by-step instructions. Augmented reality means aerospace engineers can ditch the textbook in favor of an AR program.
As a bonus, this app can guide assemblers through the process showing them where the next piece needs to go by overlaying a virtual representation of the piece onto the real-world project.
Some people may find the idea of getting lost in a new city or a foreign country appealing. Most people prefer to know where they are going. Wearable technology like AR headsets can act as a virtual tour guide, helping people navigate the world safely while offering anecdotes and information about the places the traveler sees.
It’s an expensive way to navigate the world given the current price of AR headsets, but it could become more affordable and accessible in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the public aware of the importance of contactless payments. Experts estimate that the portable payment device market will be worth $171 billion by 2032a massive jump from the estimated value of $13.43 billion in 2022.
This growth allows wearers to easily make contactless payments with their Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, etc. It’s an extension of the contactless payment technology that comes standard with most modern smartphones.
It seems like stress is becoming a bigger issue every year, especially after the last two years of living through a global pandemic and what feels like a lifetime of historical events.
Wearable stress trackers are becoming a popular solution to help people stay calm and manage their daily stressors.
These devices can detect things that fitness trackers are not programmed to detect, such as heart rate variability, to indicate when the wearer is under excessive stress. The companion app can then suggest techniques to help alleviate that stress and its effects.
Wearable technology may have reached the mainstream market as fitness trackers, but there are many other possible applications for these devices that we’re just beginning to explore. From improving the quality of life of a hospital patient to helping aerospace engineers assemble spacecraft that will take the human race to other worlds, the potential applications of wearable devices are limitless.
Emily Newton is a technology journalist. As editor-in-chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers science and technology topics. To subscribe to Innovation and technology today to learn more about Emily.