Two major conferences in the U.S. discuss the future of wearable technology
Nano-tattoos, sleep optimization and augmented reality devices could become part of our daily lives
Health and fitness monitors to play a large role in the future of wearable technologies
Editor’s Note: This week, two major conferences on wearable technology are taking place in the U.S. – Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco and Wearable Tech Expo in New York City. CNN spoke to keynote speakers from both events to imagine how a day in the life of a wearable technology user might look in the year 2015.
7:00am: You wake up to a gentle vibration on your arm, you look down and see your wrist-mounted Lark Pro alarm throbbing silently. It is 7 o’clock, Friday April 25, 2015 – time to get up to go to work.
Lark Pro is a vibrating alarm that allows people to slip out of bed quietly without waking their partner. It also helps optimize sleep patterns by waking you at the right moment in your sleep cycle. Sleep optimizing technologies are designed to help insomniacs improve their resting patterns by waking them during their lightest sleep phase. Monisha Perkash, a wearable technology inventor, says she uses her wrist alarm for this reason, to help “optimize my sleep schedule and track sleep patterns so you know you have the best night’s rest.”
7:10am: Before making breakfast you run your forearm across an ultraviolet reader on your wall to check your glucose levels. Your “nano-tattoo” shines back a reading that shows you are in the healthy blood-sugar range. As a diabetic, you used to have to prick your finger and take a blood sample to find out how your blood sugar was, but with the development of a nano-tattoo you now simply have to place your invisible tattoo under an ultraviolet reader.
Heather Clark, inventor of nano-tattoos and an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences in Boston, explains that such technology “could be very user friendly, because once the sensor ‘tattoo’ was inserted, it would be easy and painless to take a reading using just light through the skin.” Nano-tattoos are still a long way off but Clark estimates that, if they do become commercially available, they would be very cheap.
7:15am: Still half asleep you go downstairs to the kitchen and look through your cupboards for breakfast. Your Vuzix M100 assesses the nutritional value of each of the cereals on offer, and you finally decide on a mixed grain muesli, which you hope will set you up for the day with slow release energy.
You eat your breakfast with a HAPIspoon, which monitors your food intake to ensure you don’t eat too quickly.
7:30am: After breakfast, you go up to the bathroom to brush your teeth with a smart toothbrush, which assesses your brushing habits. Smart dental tools such as the Beam Brush send the results of your brushing directly to your smartphone. Tomorrow, you tell yourself, you will spend a few more minutes on your teeth and do a slightly better job. Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit Wearables, says he is a committed Beam user, and that using a smart toothbrush “helps me keep my dental premiums down.”
7:40am: You open your wardrobe to decide what to wear. You go past your Diffus UV dress, which measures how much sunlight you are exposed to, but as today is a cloudy day you aren’t really worried about getting burnt. You also pass over your shark-proof wetsuit, which you wore on a recent holiday to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Finally, you settle on your Sensoree mood sweater, which, as you slip it over your head, emits a clear blue light to indicate that you are feeling calm and relaxed. In moments of stress the lights shifts to a vibrant mauve; when you are feeling angry it glows bright red. According to its creators, the mood sweater uses the same technology behind a classic lie detector test. Its sensors read your excitement levels and translate the data into a spectrum of colors.
8:30am: Before getting on to your bike for the ride to work, you put your protective Hovding hood around your neck, rather than a conventional helmet, because you don’t want to mess up your hair. The Hovding is worn as a collar and only expands into a full helmet if you have an accident. Syuzi Pakhchyan, a Fashion Technologist and wearable technology expert, says that “the beauty of the Hovding is that the technology is invisible. It simply disappears in the pleats of the decorative fabric shell, protecting the wearer by allowing the technology to get out of the way.”
9am to 1pm: Throughout the day you connect to your Dekko-powered augmented reality device, which overlays your vision with a broad range of information and entertainment. While many of the products the US software company is proposing are currently still fairly conceptual, Dekko hopes to find ways to integrate an extra layer of visual information into every part of daily life. Dekko is one of the companies supplying software to Google Glass, the wearable computer that gives users information through a spectacle-like visual display. Matt Miesnieks, CEO of Dekko, says that he believes “the power of wearables comes from connecting our senses to sensors.”
Miesnieks says that in the future, software such as Dekko may allow people to “‘see inside’ buildings as we walk past them. Connecting online services and the real-time data about people and locations to our sense of sight … We’ll be able to look at something and get a search result back telling us all about it (who’s in there right now? Is there inventory in-stock? What’s the history of the place?).”
1pm: During your lunch break you go for a run wearing your latest high-tech sportswear. Designs such as miCoach training shirts, developed by US sportswear brand Adidas, track your performance and feed your results instantly to your smartphone. Qaizar Hassonjee, vice president of innovation at Adidas Wearable Sports Electronics, says: “in the near future, I see this combination of apparel and smartphones working together seamlessly and making wearable tech ubiquitous and part of our daily lives.”
Michael Durwin, a user experience consultant and Google Glass tester says that fitness has a large role to play in wearable technologies. “If I were an exercising type – which I’m definitely not – I’d use something like Nike+ to track my running in the morning. Or if I really wanted to monitor my health I’d wear a FitBit Flex throughout the day, checking it around 6pm to see if I’ve burned off enough calories to justify a slice of cheesecake.”
6pm: After finishing up at work, you get back on your bike and ride home. Before you begin your ride, you tap on your Misfit Shine necklace. Before you start your ride, it displays 8 out of 12 dots, indicating that you are 65% of the way through your daily activity goal. After you arrive home you tap it again, and it shows 12 full dots – you have reached your exercise target for the day.
6:30pm: When you arrive home, you quickly clean up your house with your Foki vacuum shoes, which gather dust as you walk.
7pm: You finish cleaning, jump in the shower and then change into your outfit for the evening. Tonight is not quite the right night for your Intimacy dress that goes transparent when you get excited. Instead you opt for your CuteCircuit K-Dress, which is powered by hundreds of LED lights embroidered onto a layer of fabric. Pakhchyan notes that “with illuminated fashion, there is a fine line between gimmick and innovation, (but) Cute Circuit’s K-dress is sophisticated yet playful.”
Before you head out the door, you decide to switch off all your other wearable devices. Tonight is just about you, your partner and the night…
Oh yeah, and a couple of hundred brightly flashing LED lights.