What’s Coming in Fitness-Focused Wearable Tech This Year?
Of all of the predictions about 2017 that have made headlines, it seems that one theme stands out among the others: 2017 will be the year of wearable technology, specifically fitness technology.
And we aren’t just talking about new iterations of FitBits or smart watches either. Fitness-focused technology is moving well beyond glorified pedometers, and is poised to become an important part of not only getting and staying fit, but also become a major part of the healthcare delivery system as well. From wristbands packed with functions to clothing that can protect your fertility, 2017 is likely to see major growth in the health and fitness wearables industry.
Major Trends to Watch
So what can we expect to see in the coming months and years?
1. Technology for Mental Health: We all know that fitness trackers like the FitBit or JawBone can count steps, measure heart rate, and monitor sleep, among other functions. What they don’t monitor, though, is our mood and emotional health. That is likely to change, as developers are working on wearable monitors that can monitor your mental health. These include monitors that can provide insight into your well-being throughout the day (alerting you to your typical 3 p.m. hunger outbursts before they happen, wearables to help you maintain mindfulness throughout the day, and even monitors that can alert you when your attention wanders and help guide you back to where you need to be.
2. Technology for Chronic Disease Management: Diabetics already have several automated tools, such as insulin pumps, that help control insulin levels and avoid blood sugar spikes. However, developers are taking this technology even further, working on such technology as smart contact lenses that can monitor blood glucose and send the information to an app or directly to the insulin pump. Some are even experimenting with comparator enabled devices similar to FitBits that are designed to test your blood sugar and other bodily functions, compare it to safe levels, and send the information to your insulin pump or even call 911 on your behalf if something goes wrong.
3. Making Clothing Useful: In today’s “always connected” world, running out of battery in your smart phone can make you feel lost and adrift, at least until you can find a charge. Those days may be over, though, thanks to new solar-powered jackets. Instead of searching for an outlet, just put your phone in your pocket and it will charge via the power of the sun. Phone-charging jackets aren’t the only smart garments on the horizon. Developers are already working on things like smart sneakers that can measure your steps, distance, and pace, as well as workout clothing that can tell you not only how hard you’re working out, but which muscles you’re working. Of course, all of this technology does have a downside. Multiple studies have determined that exposure to the radiation from wireless devices can have a toxic effect on nearby cells, increasing the risk of cancer, particularly testicular cancer. It can also have a detrimental effect on fertility. To help combat this problem, one company has developed high-tech men’s underwear that is proven to block 99 percent of cellphone and Wi-Fi radiation.
New Sources of Power: Solar power to charge device batteries is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new sources of power. Researchers in California have come up with a unique solution to the ongoing problem of smartwatch power drain, and developed a new smartwatch that’s actually powered by human energy. The PowerWatch smartwatch is powered via thermoelectric energy, which is basically collecting the power created by a change in temperature. The more active you are, the more body heat you generate, and the longer that the charge in the watch will last. If you take the watch off, it goes into “sleep” mode, and will begin charging again as soon as you put the watch back on. In addition to telling time, the PowerWatch can tell you how many calories you have burned throughout the day.
These are only a few of the new innovations expected to arrive on the wearable technology scene this year or soon after. So grab your FitBit, put on your solar jacket, and pop in your smart contacts, and get ready to hit the gym and get healthy.