Wearables use sensors to connect to you as a person, helping you to achieve goals such as staying fit and active, losing weight, being more organized or tracking your overall mental and physical health. In the case of VR and AR heads-up displays, they’re providing a wealth of new entertainment and educational opportunities, as well as enhancing the world around us.


  • Fitness Trackers
  • Smart watches
    • ~$400
    • Ex: Apple Watch brings notifications and calls from the iPhone screen and tracks your physical activity. There’s independent GPS for location services and an LTE model.
  • Sport Watches (more stuff than a Fitness Tracker, less than a smart watch)
    • ~$500
    • Ex: Forerunner 945 is designed for elite triathletes who require Olympic-level biometric training programs, including metrics like “VO2 max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects.”
  • VR Headsets (Sometimes referred to as HUDs or Head Mounted Displays)
    • ~$15 for Google Cardboard, which you can used with your phone
    • ~$700 for Oculus Rift
    • They either allow you to take trips without putting on pants (Google Expeditions) or are the next generation of gaming (Rift).
    • Virtual Reality is when you’re immersed in a completely different world, Augmented Reality (see next bullet) is when stuff is put on top of the things your looking at in the real world.
  • AR Glasses (I thought Google Glass would take off…)
    • ~$3500 (Hololens)
    • ~$700 (Eyesight Raptor)
    • Augmented reality headsets and smart glasses enhance the real world by placing virtual elements in our line of sight. So a large projector screen could appear to be on your living room wall, or a game of Minecraft could be happening on your dinner table. If you’re walking around a city, you could see restaurant recommendations or turn-by-turn directions.
  • Hearables
    • ~$150 (Airpods)
    • ~$100 (Pixel Buds)
    • Ex: Apple Airpods true wireless earphones that offer quick access to the Siri voice assistant as well as mundane things like listening to music.
    • Ex2: Google Pixel buds tap into the Google Translate service and can translate language for you in real time.
  • Health Monitors (Still working with FDA)
    • Dreem 2 that hopes to help with insomnia
    • Flow helps with depression
    • L’Oreal’s UV track patch for monitoring skin health in the sun

(Source for Definition and Types:

eTextiles  (and Smart Fabrics)

eTextiles are clothes with batteries and lights or computers embedded in them.

Smart Fabrics are eTextiles with specific purposed. The aesthetic type may be just lights but the Performance type has potentially life saving applications:

  • Health monitoring of vital signs such as heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, activity, and posture.
  • Sports training data acquisition
  • Monitoring personnel handling hazardous materials
  • Tracking the position and status of soldiers in action
  • Military app – Soldier’s bulletproof kevlar vest; if the wearer is shot, the material can sense the bullet’s impact and send a radio message back to base
  • Monitoring pilot or truck driver fatigue
  • Diagnosing amputee discomfort
  • Innovative fashion (wearable tech)
  • Regain sensory perception that was previously lost by accident or birth

How Body Sensors Work

As Microprocessor speeds increased and battery technology improved, embedding processors in devices and clothes to capture biometric data, or just do cool looking stuff,The end goal of wearable technology is to make tasks easier, more efficient, more effective or simply more fun.

All of these devices are part of the so-called quantified-self movement, which is about blending each aspect of your life with technology that continuously gathers and crunches data.


Some of the sensor types include:

  • Gyroscopes to measure angular velocity for orientation and rotation
  • Accelerometers to measure speed
  • Electrodes to measure heart rate
  • Temperature Sensors to measure facial hair…kidding…temperature
  • Altimeters to measure altitude
  • Proximity Sensors to measure how close stuff is
  • Biochemical Sensors to measure stuff in a person’s sweat that can recognize how much alcohol in a person’s system


Food for Thought

As with most technologies, wearables have been around a lot longer than you might have guessed. Pulsar (not Casio) introduced the calculator watch in 1975 and four years later, in 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman.

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