You’ve heard of Google Glass, Nike Fuel and Pebble Smartwatch. But wearable technology goes well beyond tracking activities and recognizing faces. From getting help in an emergency to letting everyone in a room know exactly how you’re feeling, new advances in wearable tech are pushing the envelope in the realm of possibility. And, while many of the technologies below are still in their early stages, you can bet that within a few years, they’ll be as commonplace as smartphones are now.
CuffLinc is a wireless technology embedded in nine different pieces of jewelry ranging from necklaces to keychains for both men and women. Using the Cuff iOS app, the wearer can discreetly and wirelessly notify authorities in the event of an assault, or notify a family member in case of emergency. The CuffLinc doesn’t need to be charged and lasts about a year.
Great for: Fashionistas and technophiles, seniors or anyone in need of emergency assistance
Available: Now at shop.cuff.io
Climbx Smart Wristbands
Move over, FitBit, the Climbax smart wristband is peak perfection for climbing enthusiasts. Admittedly a small section of the fitness-tech market, what the Climbax does, it does extremely well. Worn on each wrist, it monitors climbers’ movements and can detect whether the climber is active, at rest, or even when they’re shaky. Advanced climbers will have an easy way to track and beat their power and endurance records, while beginners will be able to see their progress and how well their climbing efforts are holding up.
Great for: Beginning and advanced climbers
Available: Prototype only. An (unsuccessful) Kickstarter campaign failed to raise enough funds to bring the product to market, however the original designers are still working hard to bring out awareness for the product.
LED Mood Sweater
Remember those color-changing t-shirts of the early 90s? Now, it’s not just body heat that’s powering your shirt, but your mood. Sensoree, a San Francisco-based wearable technology company has introduced the sweater with the ability to sense five different light colors, such as magenta for excitement, or blue for calm. These colors are fed to the fibers of the sweater via two hand-held nodules. The sweater itself picks up these emotions via the space-age-sounding Galvanic Extimacy Responder and displays it through the overstuffed turtleneck.
Great for: Fashion enthusiasts. The perpetually cold.
Available: The first 100 LED mood sweaters are available for pre-order at the Sensoree shop.
Smart Contact Lenses
Google Glass has nothing on this technology, developed by a Swiss firm. As with the CuffLinc, a smart contact lens would be able to monitor and report feedback on ocular issues, such as eye pressure, a key indicator of glaucoma. Essentially, a circuit is imprinted on a specialized material, which can then be dissolved in liquid. The monitoring system is still intact but the lens remains clear.
Great for: Anyone with a history of eye disease who wants to “keep an eye on” their sight.
Available: The device has only been tested on an artificial eye. More tests are needed to confirm how it will be used in human trials.
Now you no longer have to sit with your face in front of the air conditioner on a hot summer day. Winters won’t wreck havoc on your electric bill either, thanks to Wristify, a wearable technology designed by students at MIT. Science has already shown that when temperature changes are applied to one part of the body, it automatically feels hotter or cooler overall than trying to change the temperature in an entire room.
Great for: The nagging roommate who’s always turning up (or down) your thermostat.
Available: Currently only a prototype is available, with public purchase to be made available soon.
Posture-Correcting Back Belt
Poor posture? Lower back pain? Turns out, there’s an app for that. The LUMOBack, a belt-like device worn under the clothing, will vibrate when you slouch. Together with an iOS app, it grades your posture continually, showing a stick figure that goes from green to orange to red if you start to neglect those all-important core muscles. It’s not just for constant-sitters though – LUMO also works when you’re standing, walking, or driving.
Great for: Slouchers, anyone wishing to prevent back pain due to poor posture.
Available: for $150 at lumoback.com
Smart Tooth Sensor
Smile! Now you can no longer stretch the truth (tooth?) when it comes to your eating habits. The smart tooth sensor (known officially as a “wearable oral sensory system”) knows when you’re chewing, drinking, talking and coughing. Developed by researchers at the National Taiwan University in Taipei, the sensor is placed inside an artificial tooth, and reads mouth movements. Still in prototype, researchers hope one day to be able to use the device to help people manage their dietary habits.
Great for: Junk-food junkies
Available: Prototype only.
Could your socks make you a better runner? Heapsylon, a wearable technology company, developed Sensoria Fitness Socks to find out. When connected via a Bluetooth anklet, the socks will measure your steps, speed, distance and calories burned. Because they’re made for runners, they can also spot when you’re over-pronate (rolling your feet inward as you move), which helps improve your balance and technique.
Great for: Beginning and advanced runners
Available: $149 at Sensoria Fitness. Sports Bras and T-shirts featuring the technology are also available.
Socks that Find Their Mates
We all know that dryer lint is the cremated remains of mismatched socks. But what if your socks could find their mates? That’s what BlackSocks, a Swiss company, has developed. Using a radio frequency ID, the sock sensor beeps when its mate is nearby. These “Smarter Socks” also come with an app, the Sock Sorter, which makes sock sorting suck a lot less (say that three times fast!)
Great for: Frustrated sock folders
Available: $11.11/pair via sockscription (no, I’m not making this up) or $18.90/pair.
Imagine being able to charge your phone – while it’s in your pocket. That’s what Vodaphone, makers of the Power Pocket, envisions. The technology uses your own kinetic energy to charge your devices. When voltage and current come together, the result is power. The pocket device itself is cold on the outside, while your body heat keeps the inside part warm. The difference between the two sides is what creates the charge.
Great for: Outdoors enthusiasts, travelers
Available: Prototype only.
Logbar’s ring looks like an ordinary, uninteresting silver ring on the outside. But on the inside, it has the capability to change interactivity as we know it. Imagine being able to write a text message simply by drawing in the air, or accessing your music simply by drawing a note. Think about the implications such a ring could have for those with mobility issues – where custom-drawn ring shapes could make calls or check emails. Unfortunately, the device isn’t (yet) waterproof, so don’t even think of doing dishes while wearing it.
Great for: Technophiles, gadget-geeks and those with mobility issues.
Available: At Logbar Japan for $100-145.