Prediction # 8: People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds.
This is the eighth post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions. Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.
Where the last prediction focuses on people making a statement with wearable technology, this prediction is almost the opposite, highlighting that people will put technology to work by using wearable technology and no one will know about it. The assumption is people will be able to do this because ultra-small, ultra-sensitive sensors will be easy to hide and thus go undetected. The devices with these sensors may even consume less energy on account of their size so not even the battery will need to be big (see prediction #6).
It is fascinating how small sensors are becoming. mCube, which recently raised $37 million in Series C funding, provides MEMS motion sensors that are as small as a grain of sand. While their sensors are small, the benefits for wearable technology are huge! Another example of small sensors with huge impact is Bosch Senortec GmbH who, among other MEMS sensors, has developed a microphone that is 700 square microns which is barely visible to the naked eye.
Wearing Sensors and People Don’t Know
The Dash by Bragi is a pair of Bluetooth operated ear buds. These are not quite undetectable wearables, but people aren’t going to know that you’re wearing anything more than a fancy pair of wireless earphones. The Dash ear buds are chock full of small electronics capable of measuring heart rate and oxygen levels and include an ear bone microphone enabling conversation in noisy situations by reducing ambient noise. (Check out Who to Watch for Prediction #1 where Dash is included as an example for both of the two reasons why all single-purpose wrist-worn fitness trackers will become fad devices.) Ear bone microphones are also utilized in TEA’s Invisio headsets which are designed for defense and security uses, although in these cases the wearer isn’t really hiding anything.
While we’re on the topic of defense and security, lets touch on spying, which is a very technology enabled business. No, I do not envision a future where the majority of the population tracking every word and move of the people with whom they interact by using devices you can hardly see. Some people think there is enough of tracking going on by big companies and governments and there will be more on this on that in the next post Who to Watch for Prediction #9. That said, we are going to see more person on person spying than we have in the past. Spy-enabling technology is simple, relatively inexpensive and available for anyone to use. Parents are even sending children to school wearing wires and documenting instances of verbal and even physical abuse. There will undoubtedly be more court cases as a result of spying by using undetectable wearable technology.
Discreet Medical Sensing
People do not necessarily want the world to know about their medical conditions. The prediction that people will use undetectable wearable technology may actually come to fruition in instances where the device enriches someone’s life without having to let the world know what is going on.
The hearing impaired have benefited from smaller and smaller sensors and now hearing aids can be made so small they are completely hidden; no one has to know someone is wearing a sensor to amplify sound. Of course, the innovation in hidden hearing aids occurred well before this prediction was made. We will see new hidden wearable devices for people to monitor their hearts, blood sugar and a myriad of other physical indicators discreetly. We will also see miraculous advancements in bionics with touch sensitive sensors enabling someone missing a limb to sense the world around them in such a way they can do it without anyone detecting they are missing a limb.
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