Wearables and The Internet of Things

By Amy Osbourne, CEI Intern

Writer Scott Jones remarks, ‘We’re at the dawn of a new industry loosely called ‘˜wearable technology’ that may have reached $4.6 billion in sales around the world already this year ‘ (Jones, 2013). While pervasive computing allows for networking communications, it is the Internet of Things’ connected wearable devices that allow bidirectional data streams, metadata monitoring, and constant connection (PubNub, 2015).

From exercising to addressing environmental concerns, wearables and other connected devices serve a monumental purpose in modern society. According to Jones, ‘the biggest market in wearable tech is health and fitness’ with innovations such as FitBit Bands, Nike FuelBands, and Garmin’s Vivofit that not only track the user’s daily fitness, but motivates them as well. The FitBit, for example, wirelessly syncs with the user’s computer via a USB dongle and the fitbit.com dashboard. The dashboard contains information such as calories burned, how many steps have been taken, how many steps are left to reach the user’s goal, how many minutes have been spent being ‘˜active,’ and even information on the user’s sleeping patterns.  Technology such as this can be used to combat America’s growing obesity epidemic by motivating its users to meet their fitness goals.


IOT

While these fitness devices are currently available to the public, futurists and designers are focusing on how wearable devices could impact the future. Designers at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival held on March 14, 2015 speculated, ‘As drones become increasingly sophisticated, they will soon take on the roles currently performed by smartphones’… The future may hold wearable drones that interact with users, other people and objects in public space; as the skies fill with drones, they may even get their own superhighways and charging stations to go long distances’ (Ghose, 2015).  Some of the purposed drone designs include:

  1. Breathe: Breathe is a wearable plastic lung that constantly senses pollution levels in the wearer’s vicinity. If high levels of pollution are detected, a propeller in the base of the drone launches it in front of the wearer’s nose and mouth where it hovers while filtering the air. (Ghose, 2015) 


breathe
  1. Parasol. The Parasol is a wearable device filled with humidity and temperature sensors that can detect exactly when it will begin to rain. If a high possibility of rain is detected, the drone’s propellers will launch it upwards and protect the wearer from their environment by constantly adjusting its position to match that of the wearer. (Ghose, 2015) 


parasol
  1. Tour Guide. As the name suggests, Tour Guide is a drone that uses its wearer’s location to guide them to their destination via GPS. However, the drone reacts to verbal commands and hovers several feet in front of its owner, guiding that person. (Ghose, 2015)  


tourguide

Smart Education

Campuses across the country have begun furnishing their classrooms with Smart Boards- interactive whiteboards that encourage creativity and collaboration while maximizing group learning. In the classroom, however, we recognize that wearable devices have many capabilities beyond recreational use. These benefits include:  

smart education
  1. Connecting Pupils to Teachers. This kind of constant connectivity allows students to ask questions or share work with their teacher faster than ever before. Founded in 1997, Blackboard Inc. began to revolutionize online education by featuring communication applications such as discussion boards, grade books, and an online chat feature. Often used in conjunction with Blackboard Learn is Google Drive, which houses a web-based office suite consisting of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides that allows its users to make changes and update information in real-time. Whether the users are students working together on a presentation or a teacher giving feedback on an assignment, the user on the other end can see these edits and comments as they are added.

  2. Distance Learning. Video conferencing technologies have made distance learning possible. Thanks to applications such as Skype, FaceTime, and Oovoo, it is now possible for educators to ‘bring in’ experts and guest speakers from, literally, anywhere in the world.

  3. Learning Applications. Though nothing new, wearables will be able to utilize these apps in a revolutionary way that will greatly benefit students in the 21st century. In the same way that video conferencing technology can bring individuals into the classroom, virtual-reality technology can take students out of the classroom via virtual field trips. While students engage in technology such as Google Virtual-Reality1 or the Oculus Rift2, a teacher may use an app to guide those students through any territory in the world as well as any time period in history.

  4. Instant Access. Students will have instant access to any information they may need via an endless catalog of information. World Book Online and Encyclopedia Britannica are both reliable web-based resources. All of the world’s knowledge is literally at your fingertips.  

References

Jones, S. (2013, October 3). The future of wearable technology. Inc.

PubNub (2015). Connected devices & wearables. PubNub.

Ghose, T. (2015, March 18). In images: Wearable drone concepts. Live Sciences.

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