Tech pundits have dubbed IBM’s Simon Personal Communicator the world’s first smartphone. Released in 1994, it didn’t gain much traction; it wasn’t until Apple’s first iPhone launched in 2007 that the smartphone started its journey toward becoming the indispensable piece of tech most of us never leave home without.
Wearable tech has seen steady growth in adoption in recent years, but when most people think of wearables, they think only of smartwatches and fitness trackers. However, with the ongoing addition of new capabilities and products—from glasses to headsets to clothing—wearable tech may soon take its place alongside—perhaps even surpass—the smartphone as must-have, everyday tech. Below, 15 members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some new features, forms and functions that may soon be coming to wearable tech that consumers should know about.
1. Deeper Integration With Other Wearables
One day, your watch, clothing, shoes and eyewear will all be connected and will monitor your health and other activities. It may not be “soon” exactly, but it’s not far away either. Wearables are gaining traction, and companies including Apple and Google are paying attention. Look for integrations with technology including augmented and virtual reality systems too. – Jordan Yallen, MetaTope
2. Renewable Energy Sources
I predict we will soon see the mainstream integration of renewable energy sources into wearable tech, including solar charging, body heat and motion, and so on. The biggest current drawback to wearable tech is the time we spend charging our devices. Soon, this will no longer be the case; we won’t need to plug in our myriad devices at night, because they will have charged during the day. – Vikas Khorana, Ntooitive Digital
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3. Capability To Charge Via User Action
Technological advances will allow wearable devices to be powered by users rather than relying on charging cords. This eliminates the constant worry of whether or not devices are charged when tracking workouts or other health metrics. Most importantly, it makes the tech invisible and effortless, giving users the luxury to move freely, build healthy habits and keep a better pulse on their health and goals. – Thomas Serval, Baracoda Group
4. Biometric Sensors
One new feature that will soon be coming to wearable tech is the integration of biometric sensors. These sensors, which can be embedded in wearable devices such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, can collect data on various physiological metrics such as heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. – Ivan Novikov, Wallarm Inc.
5. Realistic Digital Twins
As Internet of Things sensors improve, they will use data to enable us to build increasingly realistic digital twins of different systems, from manufacturing facilities to shopping malls. Combine this with the metaverse and virtual reality headsets, and you have a whole new world where users can interact, work, shop and more. – Martin Taylor, Content Guru
6. Embedded Nonfungible Tokens
Wearables may soon feature embedded NFTs. Most wearables, including bags, sneakers, shirts and so on, will have an integrated NFT feature that will help identify them, verify their authenticity and create a digital twin that customers can use also in the digital space (such as the metaverse). – Nir Kaldero, NEORIS
7. Personalized Medical Alerts
Today’s wearable tech knows very little about the consumers who wear it. The next generation of wearable tech will incorporate much deeper contextual information about the individual that will enable better feedback and guidance. For example, imagine a fitness watch that uses its knowledge of each wearer’s medical history and medications to provide personalized alerts in dangerous situations. – William Bain, ScaleOut Software, Inc.
8. Brain Wave Pattern Recognition To Operate Devices
I have recently discovered a new technology that allows the user to control devices using their mind via a headband. This extraordinary technology uses AI to pattern-recognize EEG brain waves and issues commands to, for example, wheelchairs, thus enabling severely disabled users to operate the vehicle without physical intervention. – Carlo Brayda, Tortora Brayda Institute
9. Remote Patient Monitors
Remote patient monitoring is one of the most significant potential advantages of wearable tech. Patients will have more influence over their own lives and health thanks to remote monitoring. It could lower the number of hospital stays or pricey therapies for those with long-term illnesses. Wearable technology can really stop chronic illnesses from ever occurring, in addition to monitoring them. – Dipesh Ranjan, Cyble, Inc.
10. Social Interaction Tracking
By tracking every human interaction you have, wearables will know the answer to the question, “Where do I know that person from?” In the process, wearables will identify new impromptu social networks based on people you consistently cross paths with, but may never know. These networks will be based on previously unknown affiliations or shared traits and behaviors that naturally draw people together. – Malcolm Hawker, Profisee
11. Location-Based, Personalized Recommendations
Smarter, more efficient use of location intelligence will soon come to wearable tech. Wearable tech will take location data beyond route mapping and distance tracking to create proactive, personalized recommendations, from a can’t-miss event or attraction to the best place to stop for a snack or refuel. This will make wearable tech indispensable and, potentially, change the way we move about the world. – Jeff White, Gravy Analytics
12. Vital Statistics Monitors
Wearables embedded directly into clothing will create new healthcare possibilities, monitoring everything from liver and kidney functions to sweat to detect electrolyte levels to mobility. This will allow physicians to track a patient’s progress while recovering from physical injuries. Combining this with other advancements in clothing technology would allow device makers to change the color of your shirt to red if your electrolytes are low. – Matt Dickson, Stericycle Communication Solutions
13. Gamified Health-Monitoring Apps
I expect apps synced with wearable tech to become more fun. For example, if we look at apps for continuous glucose monitoring, most of them offer just the bare minimum: charts, glucose level alerts and sharing. What if we gamify the app, reward healthy habits with badges and add community-building features such as content sharing, quizzes debunking myths about diabetes or other real-time challenges? – Konstantin Klyagin, Redwerk
14. Gesture Control
One of the new features that will soon be available with wearable tech is gesture control. This technology uses sensors to detect hand and body movements, allowing users to control the device with simple gestures. This could be used to scroll through pages, navigate menus and control various functions on the device. This could make wearing and using wearable tech much easier and more intuitive. – Sean Toussi, Glo3D Inc.
15. AR Overlay
I think the exciting new feature that consumers can look forward to in the near future is augmented reality. It involves the overlay of digital content on top of the physical world and can be used to create a number of exciting new applications for wearable devices, such as enhancing your workout with real-time feedback on your performance, helping you find and purchase new items in stores and more. – Sandro Shubladze, Datamam