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A Misfit's Guide to Wearable Technologies

A Misfit’s Guide to Wearable Technologies

Buying a Misfit smartwatch three years ago in a jaded attempt to “get fit” was one of my biggest misbuys. It promised to monitor my heart rate, running speed and tell the time all in one. And that it did, to the closest two minutes. It had a placebo effect and I suddenly felt fitter and healthier. The smartwatch was great for two weeks until the battery ran out. Problem is, I’m not all that into physical activity. Plus, I’m not a watch person. Adding to that, watches tend to be bulky and heavy. You could say I had a weight-watchers problem. So it’s doubly ironic to be writing about wearable technologies.

Don Those Trackers

There are many wearable technologies dominating the market right now. Google, Samsung, Apple- all the major tech companies are investing in wearable technologies because they foresee “the future” where these technologies will become as popular as smartphones. Right now the biggest consumers of these technologies is sports/fitness/health, where smart-devices are being used to provide statistics to players and exercise lovers to up their “A-game”. But what if you’re a couch potato and don’t need player statistics? There’s something for you too. Clothing is being developed for sports spectators to intimately “feel” the heartbeat of their favourite player from the sidelines. The goal is to make spectators at one with the game. We are one, we are many, they say. Our hearts beat in unison, they say.

There is another obvious tactic- cater for the everyday human! Fantastic vision, misguided application. A Samsung backed Kickstarter startup is developing a new generation of wristbands to monitor hydration levels. Great, but I could just check the colour of my urine- a wee bit of an oversight. Until wearable technologies don’t seem to be a luxury item, until they blend or seamlessly integrate into society, it’s hard to think where they will actually become a necessity. Unless they have an actual health benefit, even for couch potatoes.

Fitbit
Fitbit (Global Panorama, Flickr)

Project Jacket

This season, Google x Levi’s will be dropping Project Jacquard. It’s not so much a health benefit, but it does integrate with the average human. Google has teamed up with Levi’s Jeans to create a functional and fashionable denim jacket, integrated with touch sensors and Bluetooth technology. This means your jacket can become a wearable smart-device, capable of many smartphone necessities. By swiping or tapping on your sleeve you can decide to take or dismiss a call, control your music, relay a GPS navigational route and location landmarks. This is what people in the industry call “smart textiles”. Never have technologies been so flexible and ergonomic to be woven into clothing. It’s also the kind of technology that seems so cool, even trendy and perhaps futuristic. But it still comes across as so extra. This jacket definitely falls into the luxury item category of fashion. The dilemmas of, “my jacket battery’s gone flat” or “wait, let me check my phone, my jacket’s in the wash” are two foreseeable realities. In saying that, if you wish, it’s all yours for $350 greenback.

Despite all the scepticism, if this is you because you are so extra, why not treat yo’ self? Tom Haverford would.

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About Joanna Ng

Joanna Ng

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