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WEARABLE TECHNOLOGIES AND ITS FUTURE APPLICATIONS

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Abstract

The popularity of wearable technologies have increased day by day. In the near future, wearable technologies are expected to become an indispensable part of our daily life. The aim of this study is twofold. The first one is the classification of wearable technologies based on the specifications and applications as; wearable health technologies, wearable textile technologies, and wearable consumer electronics. The second aim of the study is study is to point out how wearable technologies will be a milestone both for daily life of people and the way of doing businesses of the companies in the future. The potential applications indicate that the future will be safer, easier, healthier, quicker, and more entertaining with the wearable technologies.
International Journal of Electrical, Electronics and Data Communication, ISSN: 2320-2084 Volume-3, Issue-4, April-2015
Wearable Technologies And Its Future Applications
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WEARABLE TECHNOLOGIES AND ITS FUTURE APPLICATIONS
MESUT ÇİÇEK
Yalova University, Turkey
E-mail: mcicek@yalova.edu.tr
Abstract- The popularity of wearable technologies have increased day by day. In the near future, wearable technologies are
expected to become an indispensable part of our daily life. The aim of this study is twofold. The first one is the classification
of wearable technologies based on the specifications and applications as; wearable health technologies, wearable textile
technologies, and wearable consumer electronics. The second aim of the study is study is to point out how wearable
technologies will be a milestone both for daily life of people and the way of doing businesses of the companies in the future.
The potential applications indicate that the future will be safer, easier, healthier, quicker, and more entertaining with the
wearable technologies.
Keywords- Wearable Technologies, Future Application, Aim, Textile Technology etc.
I. INTRODUCTION
Since the mankind has started to move on the path of
civilization technology has developed gradually.
However, recently, some revolutionary changes such
as the invention of electronic chips, GPS systems,
Wi-Fi systems, the internet, computers, sensors, and
advancements in nanotechnology have transformed
the entire world at an unprecedented rate. Wearable
technologies are one of the most important fields
which have evolved from these continuous
technological advancements (Tao, 2005). Although
there is no clear and agreed definition in the extant
literature, in the simplest form wearable technologies
can be defined as “the technological devices that are
worn on a user’s body” (Nugroho, 2013, p. 6).
Wearable technological devices have been existing
for decades, even centuries, but it is only lately that
they have become popular, fashionable (Kurwa,
Mohammed, & Liu, 2008) and functional. Since the
wearable technologies have been popular newly, the
designs and functionalities of the wearable
technologies are still relatively unexplored (Dunne,
2004). Therefore, technology companies and
university research laboratories together have devoted
a large amount of effort to enhance and improve the
wearable technologies (Tao, 2005).
The scope of wearable technologies is very broad and
amorphous, and determining the characteristics and
specifications of wearable technologies is very
thorny. Therefore, to understand the classification of
wearable technologies based on the basic
characteristics will be very beneficial. According to
the literature, the wearable technologies may be
divided into three main categories. These categories
can be called as wearable health technologies,
wearable textile technologies and wearable consumer
electronics.
The wearable technologies may be worn in the form
of an eyeglasses, wristwatch, wristband, a ring, a
badge, jewelry, shoes or clothing (Tao, 2005).
However, in order to enhance the usage and adoption
of wearable technological devices, the companies and
institutions are working hard to design more
comfortable, reliable, useful, integrated, lighter,
smaller, aesthetic and vogue products (Fortmann et
al., 2013; Kurwa et al., 2008; McCann & Bryson,
2009). Hereby, the sales volume of the wearable
devices will increase and people will integrate these
devices in their daily activities. ABI Research
Company estimates that the wearable technology
sector will reach 170 million devices by 2017 and
Juniper Research Company forecasts the revenue
from wearable technological devices will reach 19
billion $ by 2018 (Kurwa et al., 2008). These
forecasts indicate the importance of wearable
technologies. After the proliferation of wearable
technologies, probably there will be a breakthrough
change for people, companies and the interactions
between the different entities.
In this context, the aim of this study is to indicate
how wearable technologies will lead a breakthrough
change in the future both for society and the way of
doing businesses through exemplifications.
II. DEFINITION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF
WEARABLE TECHNOLOGIES
In the literature, there is no clear definition pertaining
to wearable technologies. However, there are some
relative terms which have very close meanings, even
synonyms of wearable technologies. These terms are
“wearable devices”, “wearable computers”, “and
wearable electronics”. Although the terms are
different, it can be derived from the definitions that
they have the same meaning and can be used
interchangeably except wearable computers.
Although the difference between wearable
technology and wearable computer is vague,
“wearable computers are part of the larger
classification of wearable technology”(Dunne, 2004,
p. 6) and support and perform complex computations
(Profita, 2011). One of the most comprehensive
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Wearable Technologies And Its Future Applications
46
definitions of wearable technology is “an application-
enabled computing device which accepts and
processes inputs. This device is generally a fashion
accessory usually worn or attached to the body. The
device could work independently or be tethered to a
smartphone allowing some kind of meaningful
interaction with the user. The wearable product could
be on the body (like a smart patch), around the body
(like a wristwatch or a headband) or in the body (like
an identification sensor embedded under the skin or a
sensor attached to the heart monitoring cardiac
aberrations)” (Kurwa et al., 2008, p. 2).
Wearable technologies have some distinctive
characteristics which differentiate them from other
technological devices. In order to understand the
applications and future effects of the wearable
devices, firstly the characteristics and features are
needed to be examined. The main characteristic of the
wearable technologies is hands-free function (Watier,
2003). From this point of view, even mobile phones
cannot be considered as a wearable device (Sanganee,
2013). Hands-free function enables people and
employees to access the data while performing their
daily routine activities and job tasks. In addition, in
the literature several authors stated some
characteristics that wearable technologies must bear.
Some of these characteristics are as follows;
Wearable technologies must be integrated, seamless,
transparent, comfortable, portable, multi-functional,
useful, reliable and practical (Kurwa et al., 2008)
Hands-free operation, mobility, augmented reality,
sensors and perception (Kortuem, Segall, & Bauer,
1998) Accessible, wearable, stable, convey
information in an effective manner, and be socially
acceptable (Profita, 2011).
Nugroho (2013) stated that there are several key
attributes which play significant role in the design of
wearable technologies. These attributes are size and
dimension of the devices, device position, power
source, heat, weight, durability, washability,
enveloping, functionality, usability, sensation, the
connectivity of the designs. The companies who
invest in wearable technologies should take these key
attributes into consideration while designing the
wearable devices.
On the other hand, wearable technologies consist of
at least five main functions. These functions are the
interface, communication, data management, energy
management and integrated circuits. The interface is a
medium for transferring data between the wearer and
the device. Data can be gathered via sensors,
antennae, global positioning-systems receivers,
cameras. Communication is the transfer of the
information via radio frequencies, wireless systems,
infrared, Bluetooth technology and personal area
network. Data management refers to storing and
processing of data. Energy management is another
important function (Tao, 2005). However, companies
have not accomplished to solve power supply issue
for the wearable technologies even for today. For
example, the latest Google Glass’s (which is
considered the most successful wearable technology
so far) battery life is just 6 hours (Ackerman, 2013).
Although the history of wearable devices started
more than 500 years ago with the invention of
wristwatch, the popularity and the evolution of them
have accelerated in the 21th century. These wearable
technologies have been designed and used for several
purposes and several industries. For each purpose and
industry the wearable devices have their own
features, characteristics and applications.
Consequently, grouping the wearable technologies
based on their own applications and features plays an
important role to analyze the wearable technologies
meticulously.
III. TYPES OF WEARABLE TECHNOLOGIES
It can be revealed from the literature that there are
three main wearable technology categories. These
categories are health related wearable technologies,
textile based wearable technologies and wearable
consumer electronics.
3.1.Wearable Health Technologies
Nowadays, probably the most extensive use of
wearable technologies has been carried out in the
health sector. Moreover, in the literature, most of the
studies related to wearable technologies are about the
health applications. The developments in wearable
technologies are expected to lead a paradigm shift in
the health sector (Rutherford, 2010). In this context,
the academics and industry professionals have
exerted a great effort to design and develop wearable
systems for health related issues (Chan et al., 2012).
The most important contribution of wearable
technologies in the health sector is enabling
continuous monitoring of a patient’s health status and
gathering real-world information about the patient
(Binkley, 2003; Bonato, 2010; Chan et al., 2012).
Thus, the doctors may monitor the heart rate, blood
pressure, fever, and other health indicators
ubiquitously and time independently while the
patients performing their daily routine activities
(Bonato, 2005). Wearable technologies can be used
for diagnoses and treatments of several diseases
(Brady et al., 2006). Chan et al. claimed that wearable
technologies can be used for “‘telehealth’,
‘telehealthcare’, ‘telemedicine’, ‘telecare’,
‘telehomecare’, ‘e-health’, ‘p-health’, ‘mhealth’,
‘assistive technology’, or ‘gerontechnology’”. In
addition, Bonato (2010) stated that for the treatment
of “congestive heart failure, prevention of chronic
conditions such as diabetes, improved clinical
management of neurodegenerative conditions such as
Parkinson’s disease, and the ability to promptly
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Wearable Technologies And Its Future Applications
47
respond to emergency situations such as seizures in
patients with epilepsy and cardiac arrest in subjects
undergoing cardiovascular monitoring” wearable
technologies can be used. Other applications of
wearable technologies in the health sector are
Cardiovascular Disease, Rehabilitation, Applications
in Parkinson’s Disease, Functional Assessment After
Stroke (Binkley, 2003). However, today the wearable
technologies in the health sector are mostly focused
on data gathering, monitoring and diagnosis of health
problems.
3.2.Wearable Textile Technologies
Integrating the technologies into textile products is a
recent concept, which enables the development of
wearable electro textiles for sensing / monitoring
body functions, delivering communication facilities,
data transfer, control of the environment, and many
other applications (Tao, 2005). Especially, the
emergence of nano-fibres and nano-coatings provide
an unusual characteristics and lead breakthrough
changes in the textile industry (Hurford, 2010). One
of the most significant applications of wearable
technologies in the textile industry is the clothes
which can change their colors on demand or based on
the biological indicators of the wearer. For instance,
The researchers at Philips Company created Bubelle
Dress which changes its color according to the
wearer’s emotions (Philips.com, 2014). In order to
enhance the popularity and social acceptance of the
wearable textile technologies, the designers should
take some key attributes into considerations. These
attributes are “thermal management, moisture
management, mobility, durability, flexibility, and
sizing and fit, as well as the psychological areas of
cognitive load and attention” (Dunne, 2004, p. 10). In
addition, fashion (Profita, 2011) and aesthetic
(Fortmann et al., 2013) are the key important issues
that the designers should focus on while designing
wearable textile technologies.
3.3.Wearable Consumer Electronics
In the literature, there are hardly ever studies related
to the wearable consumer electronics. “Consumer
electronics include electronic equipment intended for
everyday use. Consumer electronics are most often
used in entertainment, communications and office
productivity” (Okwu & Onyeje, 2013, p. 614). Major
consumer electronics products are TV’s, mobile
phones, cameras, camcorders, music and video
players (Hartmann, Trew, & Bosch, 2012). In this
context, wearable consumer electronics can be
defined as the electronic devices that are worn on a
user’s body to catalyze the daily activities. Today, the
big electronic companies such as Google, Apple,
Samsung, Nike, Qualcomm and Microsoft makes
strategic investments in wearable consumer
electronics (Kurwa et al., 2008). Although there are
several types of wearable consumer electronics such
as wristband, headbands, rings etc., the most
promising products are smart glasses and watches.
Juniper Research estimates that the retail revenue
from wearable consumer electronics such as smart
watches and glasses will be $19 billion in 2018
(Kurwa et al., 2008). As of now, one of the most
sophisticated smart watch is the Samsung’s Galaxy
Gear 2. This smart watch enables users to make and
receive calls, read SMS’s, receive instant
notifications, take pictures, monitor exercises and
heart rate, listen to music (Samsung.com, 2014).
Besides all other wearable devices, when they
complete their evolution, smart glasses are expected
to lead a paradigm shift in users’ everyday life.
Today, the most respectable smart glasses is the
Google Glass. It is a device that is worn like
conventional glasses, and composed of computerized
central processing unit, integrated display screen,
high-definition camera, microphone, bone conduction
sound transducer, and wireless connectivity
(Muensterer, 2014). The leader of Project Glass,
Babak Parviz, claimed that Google Glass will provide
information so instant that you think that you have
already known it (Ackerman, 2013). As stated
previously, Smart Glasses have long way to go.
Designers should solve several issues such as the
battery, heating, comfort, aesthetic and fashion etc. In
the near future, smart glasses will continue to evolve
and there will be a breakthrough change in the way of
living, consuming and performing daily routine
activities.
IV. THE FUTURE WITH WEARABLE
TECHNOLOGIES
Nowadays, most of the influential electronic
companies have focused on wearable technologies,
some of them have launched the initial versions of
their wearable products, while others are in the
prototype development stages. In this context,
Wearable technology is at an 'early adopter' stage
both for public and commercial use
(Taylorwessing.com, 2014). In the future, probably
the most powerful and commonly held wearable
product will be the integration of smart glass and
augmented reality. When these products are
developed and their prices are decreased, these
products will reach the maturity stage and social
acceptance of these devices will accelerate.
The increasing popularity of wearable technologies
creates two major debates. The first debate is that “Is
the emergence of wearable technologies a
breakthrough innovation or is it just a fad?” There are
always some counter-view especially related to the
technology. In the history, there are several bad
predictions such as “I think there is a world market
for maybe five computers” (Watson, 1943) and
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in
their home."(Olson, 1977) (Rinkworks.com, 2014).
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This paper proposes that wearable technologies are
not a fad; it will be socially accepted and will change
the life of the wearers in the future. The investment
and future plans of the key influential companies such
as Google, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft also can be
considered as an indicator of this idea.
Another substantial debate pertaining to wearable
technologies is that “will the wearable devices be
beneficial or hazardous and detrimental for the
society?” In the literature, several authors stated the
hazards of wearable devices especially in the context
of privacy. Popat and Sharma (2013) claimed that if
the wearable technologies are left unattended and / or
unsecured, private information about the individuals
and companies can be stolen. Concordantly,
Ackerman (2013) stated that wearable technologies
could lead to an unprecedented loss of control over
the individual’s personal information. Another
privacy issue that people can confront is secretly
videotaping or capturing the people, private
properties, places, products. However, the most of the
privacy issues can be solved via laws and legislations,
firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware
software exclusively designed for wearable
technologies. In this context, the benefits of the
wearable technologies will outweigh the hazards.
In the near future, there will be numerous benefits
and applications of wearable technologies. The usage
and applications of wearable technologies can be
categorized based on the area of utilization.
4.1.The Public and Personal Safety: In contrast with
the position that wearable technology will give harm
to security, the wearable devices will provide the
safety of the society. For example, in the near future
Bio-censors will be integrated into the wearable
devices, and these censors will monitor the brain
activities (Livescience.com, 2014). These devices
may be compulsory for the current and/or potential
criminals. When they intend to commit a crime these
sensors will directly warn the authorities. Thus, the
crime rate in the society will be decreased. In
addition, smart glasses with the exclusive
applications will be used in driving.
The camera of the smart glasses, can navigate the
direction, monitor the traffic, and warn the driver if
his /her eyes are closing. This system can also be
compulsory for coach and truck drivers. In this way,
company officials may monitor driving behaviors of
the drivers instantaneous via smart glasses’ camera.
On the other hand, Smart Glasses will also be very
useful for firemen. Smart Glasses provide a GPS
based indoor navigation to the firemen, and provide
instant access to vital information while they are in
action, and also record the scene of accidents (Hos,
2014). Moreover, Policemen will use a smart glasses
integrated with face recognition. In the streets, Police
cannot ask everyone to show their ID’s. However, via
wearable technology, they can scan and query most
of the people without disturbing them and detect the
suspects.
4.2.Business:The wearable technologies are expected
to innovate the companies’ strategies and the way of
doing business. In the near future, there will be no
need to go to meetings physically. Instead of W/C
meetings, the managers may meet in a virtual meeting
room formed by augmented reality and all the
decisions will be recorded (Sanganee, 2013). In
addition, secretarial services will disappear. Because,
wearable devices will be the workers’ virtual
assistant, the virtual assistants will warn the wearer
whenever, wherever they are in need, set the
meetings, remind the necessary information. The
virtual assistants will also know the wearer
cumulatively and never forget any type of
information. The wearable technologies can be used
for the different functions of business such as
research, production, sales, and services.
4.3.Research:Wearable technologies provides several
opportunities for companies in the context of market
research. Researchers use some eye-tracking
techniques in the laboratory experiments. In the
future, they can gather real-life data via eye-tracking
software built in a smart glasses. Even they can use
crowdsourcing to gather data that some volunteers or
paid people can install the necessary application on
their smart glasses. While they are walking in the
streets, or in a store researchers may observe which
locations are attractive, which locations are blind
spots. In addition, the researchers also gather
information via GPS based wearable devices. The
researchers get very valuable data via wearable
technologies. They can use this data in shelf
allocation, outdoor ads allocation, store area
selection, shopping mall area selection and so on.
4.4.Production:In production and in the logistics
workers should work very efficiently and find and
bring the necessary parts. However, sometimes they
can be confused about the location of the necessary
parts or products. With Smart glasses, when the
factory needs some parts, the list may be
automatically uploaded to the glasses. It can put them
in the order and may navigate the optimum route for
the workers, and this lead to time and cost efficiency.
4.5.Sales:Retailers can use a system that customers
upload shopping list to the Smart Glasses, and the
glasses will make the customers finish their shopping
as fast as possible via indoor navigation. In addition,
there may be no need to try on clothes in the near
future. When we choose a dress the smart glasses
may show the dress on the wearer virtually and it will
be like looking at a mirror. Thus, customers can try
on more clothes virtually in a short time with a little
effort. On the other hand, in the near future, the
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consumption rate may be decreased with the
emergence of smart clothes, handbags, shoes and
other accessories. Because, these smart products may
change its colors, pattern, and shapes according to the
wearer’s preferences.
4.6.Service:The integration of smart glass, face
recognition and data management may lead to an
augmented service for the customers. For example,
when a customer sign up for the internet site of the
airline company, they can be asked several questions
related to their preferences. During the flight, when
the hostess looks at a passenger, all his/her
information will appear on the screen of the Smart
Glasses. Thus, the passengers will be behaved as they
wish and this will increase the customer satisfaction
and loyalty. On the other hand, Smart Glasses can be
used for repair issues. When a mechanic is faced with
a problem while repairing something. He can
instantly access to the user’s manuals while in action,
if he could not find the solution, the specialist can
connect to the mechanic’s Smart Glasses and help the
mechanics to solve the problem. In addition, the users
can get instant online help for uncomplicated
breakdown issues.
4.7.Tourism:Augmented reality integrated wearable
technologies enable people to visit cities, tourist
attractions virtually without going there. They also
use virtual city sightseeing tours. New virtual tourism
companies may emerge in the near future. In other
respects, tourism agencies may show the hotels to the
customers in virtually 3D format. Hereby, the
customers will make the right choices.
4.8.People with impairments:One of the biggest
impact of wearable technologies will be for the
people with impairments. Smart Glasses can navigate
for the blind people both indoor and outdoor. In
addition, with the face recognition function they can
know whom they meet. The classes can also read the
signs for the wearer and warn them if they are faced
with a dangerous situation. A new sector may emerge
that will become the eye of the people with visual
impairment. A paid person or a volunteer can connect
to the blind person’s smart glass and help the wearer
when he / she must stop, navigate the road, and keep
him / her safe. For people with hearing impairment, a
smart glasses may sense the voice and transform the
speech into text format and show the text to the
people with hearing impairment instantaneous.
Namely, wearable devices can be acting as the eyes
of the blind people and the ear of the deaf people.
4.9.Health:Wearable technologies will probably be
used very often for the health related issues.
Wearable devices may continuously monitor the
health indicators of the people. If something goes
wrong, the device can automatically send a signal to
the emergency service and share current situation of
the patients and share the exact location of the patient
with the emergency service. In the future, some
special wearable technologies can be integrated into
the patient’s body and in case of emergency these
devices that may administer treatment to the patient.
For example, when the insulin level decrease, the
wearable device will inject insulin according to the
amount that the body needs.
4.10.Entertainment:With the emergence of wearable
technologies, there will also be a paradigm shift in the
gaming industry. Oculus Rift, which is a virtual
reality head-mounted display, can be considered as
the preliminary version of this shift. When a user
wears this head-mounted display he/she can view the
virtual environment almost as real. In addition, with
the new motion sensing input devices users no more
need a keyboard, or joystick. The games sense the
real motions of the gamers. Therefore, with just a
head mounted display, users can play games like they
are in real life. Moreover, by using this virtual reality
head mounted displays of virtual amusement parks
can be constructed.
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, wearable technologies have evolved
gradually in parallel with technological advancements
such as electronic chips, GPS systems, Wi-Fi
systems, the internet, computers, and sensors. The
major applications of the wearable technologies are in
the health industry, textile industry and the consumer
electronics industry. Today, the diffusion of the
wearable technologies is just at the early adopter
stage both for the society and companies. However,
in the near future the evolution of wearable
technologies, especially smart glasses and smart
watches, will almost be completed their evolutions
and these technological devices will be adopted by
the societies and companies. The objective of the
study is to point out how wearable technologies will
be a milestone both for daily life of people and the
way of doing businesses of the companies in the
future. In this paper, it is proposed that wearable
technologies will ease the life for the people with
impairments; enable companies to interact with the
other business people easier, to conduct market
research more effectively, to apply sales and service
strategies more efficiently; enable policemen,
firemen, military members to provide public and
personal safety; enhance the virtual reality in games,
and enable the doctors to monitor the health
indicators of the people continuously. To sum up, the
future will be safer, easier, healthier, quicker, and
more entertaining with the wearable technologies…
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... The mentioned keywords include wearable technology, wearable devices, fashion technology, smart wear, and technology socks. This novel technology is "skin electronics" or "fashion electronics", which are intelligent electronic devices worn near or on the skin surface to detect, analyze and transmit information regarding the body information, body signals, vital signs or environmental data and others; in several cases, the information can be delivered to the wearer (Chuah, Rauschnabel, Krey, et al., 2016;Çiçek, 2015;Farrington, 2016). The second label is "Transgender Fashion", unisex fashion, embodies the humanistic nature of fashion. ...
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... Konsumen perangkat wearable akan dapat melakukan pengukuran parameter kritis, serta memanfaatkan smartphone untuk memproses data yang masuk dari wearable device yang dapat dikenakan konsumen, secara mandiri. Teknologi wearable akan memimpin terobosan perubahan di masa depan baik bagi masyarakat maupun cara melakukan bisnis [18]. Penelitian mengenai teknologi wearable device untuk pengembangan peralatan monitoring kesehatan kini telah popular penelitian dan terus dikembangkan. ...
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