The Future of Wearable Technology is Here

By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer

Whenever idealistic discussions on the future come around, I am reminded of the lofty vision of a hover board or an electrically-powered flying car. In “Back to the Future: Part Two,” Marty McFly wore a self-drying jacket. While we haven’t reached that point, wearable technology is becoming a recent trend in fashion.

When one speaks of “wearable technology” they are referring to any article of clothing or accessory that has a dual technological function. The most famous example of this is the Apple Watch, through which the owner can pair one’s phone and utilize the functions from it.

“[If] someone is calling my phone and I feel the vibration in my pocket but I don’t want to pull it out in front of a group of people because that’s rude, I just glance at my watch and then decide whether to answer or decline,” said junior Charles Simons.

Other items, for instance, are belts that can charge one’s phone, “smart shoes” for the visually-disabled to aid walking, and the ever present Fitbit. These devices offer a multitude of utilitarian usages for all varieties of individuals. This also marks a steady trend in human history, that people are becoming more intertwined personally with their technology. This is the next logical step towards this continued trend. Unlike what some technophobes would tell you, this isn’t necessarily negative, and means people are more interconnected with their friends, communities, and news outlets than ever before. When I do not bring my cell phone places, people are often aghast, wondering “What if someone needs to reach you?” Technology is not merely a tool for completing tasks; it is now an integrated part of our psychological and social behavior. Often it is cumbersome to hold a portable charger in one’s pocket to keep their phone charged, thus out of convenience and our new techno-social paradigm, the belt-charger has been invented.

Holding back this new technology is the high costs for consumers. A Series 1 Apple Watch can cost $249 with newer editions flirting with the $400 mark. The previously mentioned charger-belt, the “XOO Belt” costs $200. One could make a charger belt for themselves by buying a $13 portable charger, a $14 belt, and $4.97 duct tape, to make essentially the same product for $31.97. It wouldn’t be as fashionable and it may have less build quality, but it would be essentially be the same functioning product.

However, with all new technology, the prices are bound to decrease as adoption increases, and the product is more readily demanded. Apple has maintained fairly high prices for their tech products from their supposed build quality and brand name alone. This is not an option open to many of these newly starting tech companies specializing in wearable technology.

While it may seem gimmicky to some, wearable technology offers a very real opportunity for innovation and convenience for people everywhere. We are living in a world surrounded by technology, inventions which have become seminal to our interaction and means of doing business. Technology is not merely something we use, but a means by which we perceive the world around us. Social media algorithms selectively feed us information, and we have near complete possibility to connect with others. Humanity and its machines are intertwined to the point of inseparability for many people. It is only natural that we would move onto wearing our technology, and integrating it into our fashion.

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