Wearable technology has been around for decades—from wristwatches to vital medical devices to Sony Walkman cassette players. Today, the market is a frenzy of vendors developing their take on the fitness band and the smart watch, but I think we have yet to see the real potential of wearable tech. There’s a multitude of startups and small vendors infusing their upcoming offerings with groundbreaking technology that could bring about a sea change in our whole perception of wearable tech. There will be a lot more to wearable tech than Google Glass, the FitBit, and the Apple Watch!
In the interest of highlighting that sense of innovation, I’ve identified five noteworthy companies/products in the wearable tech field, each with its own story and unique angle. These five are representative of a wide field of impressive companies who are trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible in this hot market.
Deep Health Monitoring
Quanttus is a health-tech startup that’s making innovative strides in health monitoring. In fact, Quanttus hopes to do nothing less than redesign health care. The company’s vision is that sensor technologies should allow people to conveniently gather accurate, comprehensive, and continuous clinical data, and that modern technology should provide the power to decode that data, and therein completely change how we understand human physiology.
The Quanttus team set about creating a personal-health device that a user could wear comfortably on the wrist all day. The device would contain numerous sensors to measure biometrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration—biometrics that are key to gauging cardiovascular fitness, sleep quality, and other health indicators, adding up to a full snapshot of the user’s health.
There are a lot of health-tech devices out there, but overall they’re not offering a whole lot of meaningful data. Clinical efficacy is almost secondary. Quanttus wants to identify the metrics you really need to quantify health, and present it in a compelling way.
iWallet makes biometric wallets—specifically, biometric fingerprint-locking wallets with four layers of security. It uses a biometric fingerprint reader to keep your currency and identification locked to your fingerprint: Only you have access to your wallet, so pickpockets could be a thing of the past.
The embedded tech protects your credit cards from hackers using RF devices in public spaces, and the strong polycarbonate ($300), fiberglass ($400), and carbon fiber ($600) materials secure your cash and cards. You can tether iWallet to your Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone device, and a proximity alarm will sound when the two devices are separated.
This technology is forward-thinking, but prices are obviously high. This technology has some evolving to do to get it in the hands (and pockets) of consumers, but the idea is intriguing.
Tech in Front of Your Eyes
Augmate has developed software that empowers smart eyewear to enhance the experience of productivity workers. The AR technology gives workers instant, hands-free access to the Internet without requiring a traditional computer. The obvious advantage of such a device is to improve employee efficiency. Offsite workers, construction workers, and salespeople might benefit the most from Augmate’s innovations, which put information right in front of their eyes.
Augmate’s focus brings attention to the need to make it as seamless and frictionless as possible to integrate wearable technologies into users’ day-to-day processes. Businesses will need to understand the benefits of wearable technology and also demonstrate the practicality of it in real-world environments. But Augmate represents a huge opportunity to revolutionize the supply chain with wearable technology. The way we work is about to change.
Bionym has come up with a wearable authentication device called a Nymi Band, which utilizes the user’s heartbeat to unlock his or her identity. An electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor embedded in the device enables the authentication. When the Nymi reads the user’s personal ECG, it communicates that identity to registered devices. The user can then use the Nymi Band to gain quick access to their secure devices.
The Nymi Band works as a three-factor security system. It requires your personalized Nymi, your unique heartbeat, and a smartphone or device (Apple iOS, Mac OSX, Android, Windows) that has been registered to the app. This system allows for complete and convenient security. Users can create custom notifications, allowing them to connect to email, text, social media, and so on.
Everyone wants to get rid of passwords. The identity and security space is poised for tectonic change. And Bionym might have found the answer: Every person produces a unique cardiac-rhythm signal, and the shape, size, and position of a person’s heart are also unique factors that can establish identity.
Wearable Tech that You Can’t See
What if you don’t like the idea of gaudy wearable tech? You might not want square, awkward Google Gear plastered to the side of your face, or a giant, colorful Apple Watch on your wrist. Cuff is focusing on wearable tech that disappears into jewelry. Ranging from $50 to $150, Cuff’s accessories have a variety of uses, from remote control of smartphones, to step-counting and fitness tracking, to personal security—all in a form factor that doesn’t call attention to itself.
Cuff jewelry comes with an interchangeable module called CuffLinc that can embed itself into a variety of designs. You can wear the CuffLinc in a bracelet or keychain or necklace or any other compatible device. The notion underlying the Cuff accessories is that a lot of people won’t warm to wearable tech unless it’s easy on the eyes—or even invisible.
Quanttus, iWallet, Augmate, Bionym, and Cuff are just a few examples of companies coming up with innovative wearable tech. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are ideas on the horizon that will probably blow these away. When I look at the market now, I see a lot of bulky, clunky devices that do the same kinds of things. That reality is going to change into a market that’s blown wide open with brilliant ideas. What are your favorite wearable-tech devices out there?