Wearable technology might just be the next big thing—and not just because devices are now able to quantify your life by, say, keeping track of how many steps you take in a day.
Wearables help amplify the ways in which we express ourselves while providing control over the sea of data we generate. The (well-earned) hype about wearables centers on how their ability to augment our decision-making, provide for a veneer of playful interaction, or give us greater access to data that we can use to enhance our lives.
It’s no surprise, then, that sports, fitness, wellness, and health are all areas where wearable tech companies are charging at opportunities. But wearables have the potential to do more than just enhance the lives of the privileged. Wearable technology has the potential to open up greater possibilities to those facing challenges. In her workshop “Building Wearables” at Social Media Week, the likeable and eloquent Phoenix Perry, a game designer, shared that she lives with a disability that impacts her mobility and dexterity. It was this disability that drove her research and investment into this technological realm.
Perry, whose creative work spans a range of disciplines including drawing, generative art, video, games, interfaces and sound, sees a great opportunity to integrate wearables into the lives of others who might have a disability or impairment. The world she imagines has begun to come true already. People with diabetes have for years been wearing sophisticated continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Wearable technology has—without hyperbole—changed their lives. That ecosystem is becoming well-enough established that one large automaker is looking to integrate diabetic wearable tech into its driver interface. And as helpful as that may be, it’s still a tiny market. What happens when wearable tech helps solve the recurrent problems that old-school keyboard-and-mouse setups have caused for people susceptible to carpal-tunnel-type problems? Wearables are on their way to finding the killer app for enhancing people’s lives, but when they find the solution for a huge and pressing problem, watch out.
With wearables, as we’ll see in the coming years, the possibilities are limitless.