Wearable technology is going to change everything. Yes, it will change when, where, and how we "connect." But, even bigger than that, it will reshape the way we find happiness--no longer looking for it in self help books or friends' advice. Instead, in our search for answers and fulfillment, we will dive into the data our bodies and actions create.
Data will become the new astrology. We will use it to divine our personal futures and deconstruct our present. It will alter the "human ideal" and change the meaning of what we think of as "success." Perfection will be quantified and comparable. We will search less in our own interior brains and memories for the answers but instead we'll try to understand ourselves in the context of others. We will know averages for happiness, weight, sleep, laughter, excitement, how clean our hands are, how strong our brain is--to be told exactly how we compare to those averages, rank listed among our peers.
Despite Heidegger's assurances that our own actions are technology, most of us understand technology as something separate from our bodies. It is something we make, control, hold, and are disconnected from. But, to feel fulfilled, the growing societal shift towards a culture of constant connectivity and data worshipping has made us increasingly reliant and emotionally dependent on technology.
As we've entered a co-dependency with technology, we've grown more open to applying it internally and externally to our own bodies. Responding to this new market, a growing crop of wearable technologies have popped up, each with its own compelling promise on how they can modify our lives positively.
There is the IntelligentM, a digital wristband that alerts medical employees if they haven't washed their hands well enough. Though it's currently only being used in the medical world, it's easy to foresee how it could move like Purell out of the medical community to the general population. There are all sorts of fitness related wearable technologies dedicated to tracking your health and wellbeing, including Nike's FuelBand, FitBit, and Jawbone Up.
It's impossible to talk about wearable technology without bringing up Google Glass. Though the glasses have already been worn down the runway during fashion week, the specs were announced only recently, giving us a clearer idea of their capabilities. We now know that the glasses will have 12 GB of usable memory synced with Google cloud storage and 16GB Flash memory total. Supposedly, the battery is made for an entire day of use, though video and recording and Google Hangouts will drain it quicker. Through the glasses you'll be able to take photos, access apps, connect to the web and effortlessly track much of your day.
Sure, Google Glass isn't mainstream yet, but they have slipped into the popular imagination enough to inspire their own slang such as "Glassholes." There is little doubt in my mind that with the help of hip companies like Google and Nike, the integration of wearable technology (and the data tracking it has to offer) will likely be ubiquitous in five years time. And as wearable technology continues to effortlessly collect data about us, we will turn to that data to "solve" our problems. Advice will be dished out not from friends' mouths, but from algorithms. We'll distinguish "right" and "wrong" by what is above average or below average. Instead of eagerly looking at tomorrow's horoscope, we will download yesterday's data in order to see our future.
A version of this blog was originally published on Metropolis Magazine.