The Future of Wearable Tech

#quantifiedself #humanaugmentation 
#bodyhacking #transhumanism

Trackers in the Age of the Quantified Self

Wearable technologies first came in, in a smaller form, as more-convenient-than-a-smartphone-sized gadget. The Apple Watch and the Fitbit being the most commonly used wearables, followed by some wearable devices that are successful in the medical industry, such as SugarBEAT, a skin patch for diabetics. Almost any data emitting from the human body can be monitored. Owlet is a boon to parents who want to monitor their baby's heartrate and oxygen levels while they sleep. Tracking of various elements, number of steps, heartbeats per minute, whether a patient has eaten their next meal, blood pressure count, etc. are all possible data that can be collected, examined and analyzed for feedback from a wearable device.

Human Augmentation

Wearables can take natural human attributes and improve our experiences to make life simpler, faster, and convenient in the way the Kerv ring is a contactless payment ring, sparing you of carrying around your wallet or phone entirely. Also, Orphe shoes which help beboppers use light as smart footwear for artists and performers. Nadi is a yogi's guide with its sensors on the hips, knees and ankles to provide gentle vibrations for easier yoga. The wearable becomes an extension of your own body’s knowledge of the asana. Drum Pants uses open source software to turn your pants into customized drums. How long before the human body’s digital skin is able to do these very things without any external wearable aiding it?

A Fashion Revolution

At the cutting edge of where fashion meets technology, there are innovations in wearables that are have made garments a way for humans use wearables to express their authentic selves. For example, London's Studio XO’s blushing dress, Bubelle, uses a blend of fashion and technology and the sensors in the dress respond to the wearers emotional state by changing the physical appearance of the actual dress by blushing. Further, Volantis, which was the world’s first flying dress, famously inaugurated by Lady Gaga, uses drones to hold the dress by a stem and enables the wearer to be propelled off the ground. Fashion has a big role to play in bringing wearable technology access from celebrities to the masses.

Wearables and Kurzweil's Theory of the Singularity

Interactive and responsive garments such as the Smart Jacket from Google and Levi Strauss that uses smart fabric are now becoming our first step into the world of truly interacting with wearables close to the human body. Technologists and futurists believe that it won't be long before the smart fabric is in fact a force to reckon with for human intelligence as well. The coming of artificial intelligence, predicted to supersede human intelligence by the year 2045 by futurist Ray Kurzweil, indicates that wearable technology could not only be important for humans to unite with for self-augmentation, but might be at the forefront of the human-machine relationship. The future lies in bodyhacking and transhumanism. This might not be for everyone right now, although there are movements such as the Cyborg Foundation, that experiment with the limits of human biology and technology.

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Illustrations by Omkar Lotlikar