How wearable technology is changing our life in real time - Riskaware

How wearable technology is changing our life in real time

Wearable technology has evolved from simple fitness to potentially life-changing tools. Once dominated by consumer applications, healthcare sector now represents nearly half of the market, and is anticipated to become the second fastest growing sector. This is followed by enterprise and industrial use cases. 

By bringing powerful capabilities into small wearable devices, multiple sectors are creating a world of real-time, data-driven services.  

Their ability to record personal data makes them very effective for providing more personalised services. This is obviously great for user experience, but the benefits of wearables go much deeper than this. 

It means results are much more accurate for the individual. Outputs are updated in real-time (because they’re always on). Wearers, and other stakeholders, are better informed without using more resources.  

Overall, no matter their use case, wearables will better outcomes for people’s health, safety, livelihoods, and more.  

The power of wearable tech 

The power of wearables hinges on advanced digital technology for user-centric use cases. Using sensors and real-time data, wearables are truly digital services built for people. They have the ability to monitor biometrics, manage and display content, or even create interactive realities.  

A variety of sectors have adopted these capabilities to enhance or transform what they offer. For example, the mobile and gaming markets are adopting VR headsets to augment people’s experiences.  

The defence and intelligence markets are also using biometric monitoring and augmented reality to support decision-making. While the health industry is using remote sensors, VR and movement trackers to create virtual yet personalised healthcare.  

How does wearable tech work?

Wearables are built with powerful sensors that track our movements, our biometrics, and our location. What’s key is that this is only the first step. Wearables combine our data with additional intelligence to produce smart insights in real-time.  

This is the crux of wearable technology. The depth of data provided enables people to create more intuitive services. Whether that’s through providing in-depth analytics, receptive digital enhancements and integrations, or highly personalised insights.  

Another benefit of this is that it creates extensive individual data records. This helps with more advanced outputs, such as prediction and forecasting based on historical information.  

You can see how this would benefit the healthcare industry by creating a comprehensive health profile. From this, physicians could make more informed diagnoses or digital services may be able to pre-empt health issues.  

Wearables represent a key move towards a more data-driven and personalised world. One where users have ready access to valuable insights, strategic awareness and on-demand information. 

Common examples of wearables

Smartwatches

Smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, remain the biggest consumer wearable products. These are smart mobile devices worn on your wrist that display all your notifications, calls and other daily data updates, as well as added fitness tracking abilities. The idea is to make all your most used phone functions more accessible. 

Smartwatches are one of the wrist vesture technologies, and they were expected to grow from 66.6 million units in 2019 to 105 million in 2023. So far, they have been moving towards the expectation, and there is no doubt they will reach it.” – TechReport 

Health and fitness trackers

Fitness or activity trackers are more niche than smartwatches, but just as popular with their target market. Built for athletes – both amateur and professional – they can track your biometrics like heart rate, as well as your speed, distance, depth and altitude.  

Moreover, certain products can go beyond the metrics to measure the nuances of techniques, such as rowing cadence or golf stroke. Overall, these devices give users the perfect high-level insight into their training session, from diving to cycling to climbing.  

“30% of middle-income households used fitness trackers in the US in 2020.” – TechReport 

VR headsets

Virtual reality technology brings the digital world to life, putting users into the middle of rendered environments and translating their movements into the virtual world. Largely used for gaming applications, VR has also been used in healthcare, education, and sport.  

This is still a relatively ‘early-adopter’ tech, but nevertheless, Apple Vision Pro’s huge scale of pre-sales demonstrates the likelihood of this tech to take off in a more commercial sense. 

AR glasses

Augmented reality technology combines the real and virtual – highlighting real-world objects and actions with digital add-ons. This could be based on the user’s real-time data or external environmental information.  

Google Glass, for example, offered immersive content viewing but truly never took off. 

“[In 2023] at over $20 billion, the global smart glass market is about $340.4 million.” – TechReport  

Hearables

Earphone or headphones are now adopting elements of the wearable domains, including live features such as virtual assistants or adaptive control. Others have elements of HealthTech, such as blood pressure monitors. 

What are the uses of wearable technology in real-life?

Defence and civil response

Incident response presents serious challenges for the responders involved. Whether this is due to the nature of the incident or the environmental conditions, wearables can help. 

One example is the impact of equipment. Often these events involve responders wearing suits and equipment designed to withstand harsh conditions. These items can cause significant physical strain for the user on top of already gruelling situations and demanding activities.  

For example, soldiers in hot countries can experience heat strain in bulky suits, or high levels of stress in active situations. In 2013, this was shown to be a very real health threat. Three soldiers died in the Brecon Beacons during a training exercise because of the severe heat conditions that day.  

Developing suits with integrated wearable technology could help bring more awareness to people’s health during these situations.  

Operators could track critical biometrics, such as body temperature and heart rate, to proactively identify the signs of heat strain or stress. Plus, tracking people’s location would ensure that they could be pulled out of activities if they have declining health.  

In addition, CBRN conditions could be monitored in a similar way. Suits can detect external CBRN levels or internal leaks to inform users when they need to wear masks. This data would allow operational commanders to better protect their team and give orders that could potentially save lives.  

Other use cases include monitoring performance, such as the accuracy of weapons use, training, sleep monitoring and strategic planning. The insights gained from this activity would help improve readiness and performance in real events.  

Healthcare

The healthcare industry is rapidly adopting wearable technologies to improve the quality of medical care. The Covid pandemic made the importance of virtual and remote care clear. Plus, this means better support can be provided to individuals with poor mobility or those who cannot easily get to doctor’s offices.  

Health wearables will also enable more proactive, positive and tailored care from physician to patient. Not only will there be more data to inform diagnoses and treatment plans, but this data may also be more accurate. Plus, it’s all readily available, collected directly from the patient. This means doctors won’t need to wait weeks for test results to make a decision.  

Sensors can detect early signs of illness based on historical patterns of data. Additionally, they can identify other health events shown in biometrics, such as irregular heart rates. This data will even be captured as an incident occurs which is a huge benefit for diagnoses and quick care.  

For example, a wearable device can detect and record a heart attack and alert emergency services as it happens. 

Wearable devices can also be used to manage chronic diseases or other long-term health issues. For example, virtual wards are a new initiative which would rely on remote monitoring empowered by wearables. 

Other examples include self-tracking blood sugar levels for diabetes patients, sleeping patterns, or blood pressure.  

RELATED: Wearable technology for tracking health could save lives  

Sports

The sports sector has a plethora of use cases for wearable technology. Athletes and amateurs alike use wearables for personal progress tracking. They monitor a large range of physiological and quantitative data such as heart rate, time, distance, and gait. Tracking these metrics over time allows people to understand how their performance is changing, or how to improve. 

Specifically, extreme sports could benefit from in-depth health tracking technology. Athletes like Formula 1 drivers, underwater divers, or mountain climbers are subjected to similarly demanding conditions as emergency services or military actors.  

They can experience high levels of stress and significant health challenges. Tracking this data using wearables could help to preserve their safety.  

Employee safety

The same concept of status monitoring can be applied to highly physical or high-risk careers. From astronauts to industrial workers, being able to monitor employee health and safety using real-time digital technology could greatly improve workplace environments.  

For example, data insights into working conditions can reduce the potential for injury. While monitoring employee biometrics can improve performance and capability. Employers also gain gives greater oversight over their people and the environments they create.  

What is the future of wearable technology?

Wearable technology is still an expanding concept. There is ample opportunity for wearables to become a more prevalent part of our lives and also to empower advancements in several industries. Forbes predicts that the wearable will make its way into the every day, becoming more integrated with the IoT. 

Services will become more localised, personalised and remote. Increased interactivity and intuitive hands-free control will truly augment human capabilities and experiences.  

Soon, wearables will become as second nature as a phone, but with even broader and practical functionalities. It will be like carrying a personal toolkit for your specific use case, supporting better decisions, outcomes, and understanding. 

Read more of our insights on the use of technology and incident modelling for protecting public health. 

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