Wearable tech to give people ‘super-powers,’ says study

Oaxis fitness band
Credit: Martyn Williams

Wearable technology will let the less fortunate hear, see, and speak better than ever before, and it will enable others to “do things they could not do before,” says a study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education.

Solving difficulties will make wearable technology more than just a craze, the research says. We’ll have ‘super-powers,’ wearable technology insiders think.

“More than just a fad, [wearable technology] can change the way we work and give us 'super powers',” says Science Daily, writing about the study.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD  Fitness wearables: Who's tracking who? +

The idea that wearable technology will provide powers that “normal humans” don’t have, kept coming up in responses, according to the study. Twelve of the study participants thought that. The study surveyed only 16 wearable technology professionals in total, the official Textile Institute journal says.

Two kinds of people will ultimately benefit, Mary, one of the participants, thought. The “less-able bodied and the able bodied.” The less-able bodied “use hearing aids and other technology,” she thinks, but she says that she wants to see “people who have able bodies able to do things that they could not do,” she said. She means wearable technology when she refers to ‘technology.’

This was a recurring theme from a big chunk of the employees of the wearable technology companies surveyed in the US and Netherlands. The majority weren’t just resting on the laurels of the companies they worked for—who make fitness bands and so on—they think that their industry will be more than that, thus the ‘super-powers.’

Connectivity was another theme brought up by the insiders. Twelve used connectivity in their descriptions of wearable technology.

Wearable technology “interfaces the human body with the environments,” said a wearable technology accessory designer, quoted in the journal. Products he designs include shoes, pillows, and jewelry, the study says. Wearable technology is “something that can improve your connection with the world,” he’s quoted as saying.

Technology should be integrated into actual garments, a respondent called Alice reckons. In fact, smart textiles are replacing patient monitoring wiring in hospitals, the study explains.

One of the reasons it’s encouraging to hear these workers being bullish on their industry is because some might argue that wearable technology needs to come up with something better than it’s done so far. Hopefully, this bunch will.

Wearable technology is “failing to live up to the hype,” the Telegraph newspaper wrote last year as prices were slashed during holiday shopping season. And indeed the hype has been considerable. These products have promised to make us fitter, and the calendars on our wrists have promised a life full of interesting appointments. Neither have likely happened to most.

Wearable technology has other issues, I wrote in the middle of last year. Despite being probably superb for such things as repair manuals, hands-freeing smart-glasses and other enterprise-level wearable technology could be used to track workers. Workers don’t like that, I wrote last year. Add to the mixture that workers don’t trust the companies they work for, in many cases, and you have another dead-end for wearable technology.

Wearable technology may turn out to be the future of mobile payments, though. A swipe of the e-textile glove on a chip, say.

And scientists last year say that they are figuring out how to run magnetic fields through the body for low-power IoT communications.

‘Super-powers’ perhaps?

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10