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6 Ways Wearable Tech Is Poised to Change the World

Wearable technology is more popular than ever before. You can’t go anywhere without seeing people with their smartwatches, Fitbits, Leaf Sensors or other pieces of wearable tech. They’re monitoring their own heart rates, mood, calorie intake and activity levels without ever taking their phones out of their pockets. These little pieces of tech may be popular, but they’re also well on their way toward changing the world.

What wearable teach related changes can we expect to see in the next few years?

1. Market Saturation

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Wearables aren’t new, but they started to both take off and become affordable around 2014. Sure, you can still drop $1,000 for an Apple Watch — since you can’t get the insanely priced Apple Watch Gold Edition that retailed for a whopping $10,000 anymore — but for everyday needs, you can pick up a good wearable for less than $200.

People bought about 84 million wearables in 2015. By 2020, that number could exceed 500 million, and two out of every five people will likely use a wearable by next year.

These devices are also getting better and more capable every year. Moore’s Law no longer applies which is the observation made in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits has doubled every year since the invention of those circuits.

2. Wearables in Medicine

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Fitbits and smartwatches are great tools, and we’ll get to them in a minute, but one of the biggest changes in wearable technology is the medical applications — beyond just tracking your heart rate or activity levels.

Quell is a smart cuff designed to relieve leg pain that was recently approved by the FDA. Embrace, approved in February 2018, is a smartwatch that monitors electrodermal activity or the electrical signals in the skin as a way to detect seizures before they happen.

More and more wearables are medical devices, actively seeking out FDA approval. This is a trend that we will likely see continued growth in the next five to 10 years.

3. Payment Security

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Pandora bracelet with the Fitbit.

You can’t turn on the news without seeing at least one article about credit card number theft — either through hacking or the use of “skimmers” that steal credit card numbers at the point of sale. Italy and Brazil have taken security one step further by using handprints — synced to the consumer’s wearable device — to add a level of authentication before a purchase.

Biyo point of sale handprint scanners ensure that only authorized users make purchases with a credit or debit card because each human being has their own unique pattern of veins in their hands that are scanned for these authorizations.

4. Health Insurance and Health Monitoring

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Right now, the medical industry doesn’t use Fitbits. They can be a great way to keep track of your steps and challenge yourself to get healthy, but most doctors don’t want to see your phone with your Fitbit activity report.

That could change in the future. The health insurance industry is looking at Fitbits, and other health monitors as a way to determine insurance policy costs so if you don’t take care of yourself by being active regularly, you will likely face higher insurance premiums. We’ve seen this roll out already within the South African market as a form of “rewards back” for completing a certain number of steps each day. 

5. Increased Workplace Safety

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Wearable tech isn’t just good for keeping track of your steps — it can also improve employee safety in dangerous work environments. Studies show that nearly 4,700 workers died in work-related accidents in 2014. Wearables in these environments could function in two different ways.

First, they could provide access to training and technical information — if an employee needs a refresher on how to run a piece of equipment that they haven’t used in a while or needs to quickly access a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a hazardous chemical or substance, they can do that from a smartwatch or other wearable device.

It could also monitor employees for stress and anxiety in the workplace. Both of these variables can increase the number of accidents that happen in high-stress workplaces.

6. Employee Tracking

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This is a downside to wearable tech. Amazon could track their employees’ hand movement if they implement their recently awarded patent. Amazon says this will help their employees by giving them gentle reminders if they’re about to pick up the wrong object or place an object in the wrong bin, but industry experts are worried that they could have a more nefarious purpose — tracking employee movement so the company can tell who’s slacking off.

This isn’t the first or only example of this kind of employee tracking. Employers who offer free Fitbits as part of their company health program often track and collect data from their employees. One company even offered to implant microchips in their employee’s hands to make things such as buying snacks from the snack machine easier.

Use It for Good

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Most wearable technology has the potential to change the world for the better, but we do have to be careful — there are plenty of ways to use this technology for bad instead of good. It’s up to us to make sure that wearable technology is used for the good of mankind, not for the enslavement of the same.

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