What is Wearable Technology?
According to Wikipedia, wearable technology, also referred to as tech togs or fashion electronics, is clothing and accessories incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. The designs often incorporate practical functions and features, but may also have a purely critical or aesthetic purpose.
Examples of Wearable Technology
A recent article in Business Insider noted a number of wearable technologies including: watches that synchronize with smart phones for phone calls, dresses that light up, wrist bands that track your activity, eating, and sleeping patterns, and Google Glass (glasses that integrate augmented virtual reality and voice features into head gear). In sports, there are boots that charge cell phones, gloves that deaf and blind people can use to send text messages, shirts that play the drum, solar bikinis, and phone gloves to name a few. Some of the technologies may be far reaching and still evolving, but many solve problems and are quite practical.
Growth of Wearable Technology
According to ABI Research, by 2016 wearable wireless medical device sales will reach more than 100 million devices annually. The market for wearable sports and fitness-related monitoring devices is projected to grow as well reaching 80 million device sales by 2016.
Research firm Gartner expects wearable tech to be a $10 billion industry by 2016.
According to IMS research, 14 million wearable devices were estimated to have been shipped in 2011. Of these, three million units were fitness activity monitors with continuous glucose monitors accounting for most of the income. However, the size and composition of the market is projected to look significantly different by 2016 when between 39 million and 171 million devices will be shipped.
According to Credit Suisse, the wearable technology market has hit an inflection point and will reach $30-$50 billion over the next 3-5 years.
Wearable Technology and Job Creation
"I have been in technology recruiting for some time and have seen the constant flow of new ideas, jobs and opportunities. Many of these technologies start as consumer trends and then become mainstream enterprise offerings creating job openings and opportunities. Wearable technology is one of these emerging technologies," says Lisa Francone, Recruiter, Technology Practice at Gent & Associates. "Healthcare presents a lot of opportunities for wearable technology and I think a variety of new jobs will emerge as the sector seeks subject matter clinicians who also understand the technology," notes Lisa Strullmyer, Recruiter, Healthcare Practice, JustStaff.com.4 Jobs That Might Be Displaced by Wearable Technology
- Golf Caddy. There are numerous wearable golf technologies that focus on helping the golfer improve his/her game. Game Golf is a wearable product that tracks the location of shots, the distance the ball traveled, and what club you used. The product integrates accelerometers, gyroscopes, global navigation systems (GPS) and near field communications to track the golf games. Another product is the SensoGlove, a golf glove with built in sensors that reads the pressure of your grip. The firm touts that the SensoGlove will teach you how to improve your golf grip which will improve your swing and game.
- Musician. The electronic drum machine T shirt enables you to develop a variety of drum beats using a T shirt that you wear. The beat glove is a wearable electronic musical instrument that helps you tap out music using your fingers which you hear on a computer. Beauty and the Geek integrates speakers, a wireless mouse, and a keyboard into jeans so you can make music in real-time.
- Medical Services. According to Venture Beat, "quantifying ourselves" was a big trend in 2012 and will continue to grow. There are a number of wearable technologies in the market that could reduce medical check-ups by enabling us to manage our own data. According to Information Week, technologies such as Preventice's BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System has wearable sensors that allow physicians to monitor key biometrics outside of the clinical setting, and Avery Dennison's Metria Wearable Technology's sensors worn on the body to collect, calculate and graph data, are setting the stage to seamlessly deliver patient data to doctors to track continuous progress of a patient. Textiles included in AiQ Smart Clothing bypass the need for add-on sensors by incorporating them in clothes to collect data.
- Fashion . Solar powered dresses and purses are some of the new wearable technology fashion trends utilizing solar energy. Continuum Fashion has a variety of fashions designed with 3D printing. CuteCircuit combines haute couture with technology and today the firm dresses many of the stars and musicians while on stage and on the red carpet. The firm created the world's first Twitter dress that tweets while worn in real-time.
What It Means For You
The rapid acceleration of technology has changed the way people work, communicate and live their lives. As a result, mainstream careers have changed and will continue to change. Wearable technology continues to grow and create new job opportunities while displacing others. Individuals who continue to follow the trends in their industry and hone their skills by seeking skill building projects will be able to transition to new opportunities created by wearable technology.
Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti is a leading thought leader on career development. She is the author of ten books, a regular media contributor, and global speaker. She is a key advisor for recruiting and outplacement firms. Her most recent book is Women Lead: Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders. Tracey is a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program, researching the impact of technology on future careers. Find Tracey on Twitter and Facebook.