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Mar032014

Wearable Technology: The Future In Its Infancy

From the calculator watch to Google Glass, we’ve come a long way. But is wearable technology actually the future, or are companies seizing on to a science fiction themed flash-in-the-pan?

 

EVERYTHING. You heard me.

With a reported 68% of adults using smart phones and tablets to connect to the internet, companies are looking to make smart technology even more relevant and indispensable. Google started rolling out Project Glass in February 2013. Today, the glasses come either with prescription lenses or without any lenses at all. In addition to Google applications, they also run a variety of 3rd party applications, such as Evernote, The New York Times, and Path. And they make you look like this guy:

How flattering. 

Another item you may have seen on the wrist of a tech-saavy fitness freak near you is the Nike + FuelBand SE. It deluges you with hourly motivational reminders, and counts the number of steps you make throughout the day so you can know just how lazy you’ve been. And great news:  it’s water resistant, so it can even judge you in the shower!

That means “pizza time,” right?

The wearables are certainly a ways away from hitting their stride. Sometimes it seems like all they’re trying to do is take your smart phone out of your pocket and lodge it somewhere else on your person – somewhere more distracting and conspicuous. But on the other hand, you have Google’s smart contact lens project, which would help diabetics monitor glucose levels throughout the day. 

I’m certainly not one of those people who bemoan recent technological advances, crying that the internet is decreasing our ability to be social. I think that’s way off base, actually – with my smart phone, I’m able to connect to far-away friends who I’d otherwise have no contact with. But would technologies like Google Glass really improve our quality of life, or would they just make users infinitely distractible?

There is always backlash against progress. Currently, wearable tech is experiencing some growing pains. Recently, an AMC Theatre tried to have a Google Glass user arrested during a movie. This kind of backlash reaches back to cell phones as well, leading some restaurants to ban them entirely. Just because we might use technology for entertainment purposes doesn’t mean it’s frivolous and fraying at the fabric of our society. We’d be increasing our happiness and general well-being, the importance of which is difficult to measure.

So maybe you’re thrilled at the idea of having gifs of wacky kittens forever looping in your line of sight. Great! Unfortunately, then we encounter the next problem:  fashion. Google Glass is just not a good look. They kinda look okay sitting on top of glasses for those of us who already rock frames, but the no-glasses version is just goofy looking. Georgiana Foster states in her article, “Wearable Technology: A Fad or the Future,” 

“There seems to be a huge gap between what is being made and what the female consumer, in particular, would be willing to purchase. Almost everything available is currently too chunky and masculine. The products seem to be aimed at men with a vague hope that (maybe) some women might like them. Let’s think about who, between men and women, is more likely to wear an accessory, or even multiple accessories at the same time to begin with. Surely the answer is transparently obvious.”

I don’t feel like wearable tech has found its niche, yet – which isn’t to say it won’t. I don’t see why I’d ever choose to wear Google Glass instead of just keeping a smartphone in my pocket. But I’m going to keep an open mind about it, and hope that wearable tech finds its stride – because who doesn’t want to live in the future?

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