Wearable technology usually evokes images of fitness-tracking wristbands such as the Jawbone UP or FitBit Force. More athletic types might envision Polar H7 strap-on heart rate monitors or Nike Fuel bands, while others might think about Samsung's Galaxy Gear or try to imagine what Apple's new iWatch might look like. But wearable technology is quickly evolving into something entirely different.
The Vancive Metria Informed Health system is wearable technology incorporated into a skin-friendly adhesive bandage. Basically, it's a disposable chipset in a Band-Aid.
So what does this mean for the future of wearables?
A New Generation of Wearables
New products with extraordinary capabilities are being introduced at an accelerating rate. And each new and improved device collects larger amounts of more detailed information. But information is not knowledge, so we are seeing an explosion of analytical tools (and companion apps) created to help put this vast amount of data in context.
Almost all of the fitness-tracking wristbands offer companion apps to help quantify your steps, calories burned, sleep and -- in some cases -- heart rate. But today, even the best systems offer only semi-contextualized data.
The Next Step
That's the next step in wearable ecosystems. Personal quantification coupled with anticipatory computing yielding actionable output: "Shelly, you've burned only 1,874 calories today and you have theater tickets tonight, so you have to run for half an hour before dinner. Your schedule is clear, so leave the office at 5pm." If you've used Google Now on your smartphone, you know how close we are to a time when our devices and the sensors we wear will coach us.
On the other end of the wearable spectrum are devices like Google Glass. I don't think Google Glass is a viable consumer product, but when I wear mine, it helps me see into the future.
The speed of information is directly equated to economic success. If you know something before your competitor does, you will almost always win.
Speed Equals Power and Success
If you can do something three to four times faster than your competitor can, you will almost always win. What I see through Google Glass is a bifurcated future where wearers almost always beat non-wearers. You can translate this winning speed equation to any discipline where knowledge is power -- which is almost every situation.
These are early days, but powerful smartphones, high-speed broadband, cloud storage, heads-up displays, anticipatory computing and a practically limitless supply of inexpensive sensors are the right ingredients for a brave new world of wearable technology -- and it will be here in the blink of an eye.