Wearable Technology

DEFINITION of 'Wearable Technology'

Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing. One of the major features of wearable technology is its ability to connect to the Internet, enabling data to be exchanged between a network and the device.

BREAKING DOWN 'Wearable Technology'

While wearable technology has become more popular as smart phones, mobile applications, computing, and broadband connectivity have gained market traction, it has been a part of how people have imagined the future for generations. Dick Tracym a comic book hero, was shown communication via a two-way wrist radio in the 1930s, and The Jetsons, an animated television show, featured other wearable technologies in the 1960s.

The growing popularity of mobile networks has been one of the most important factors in the development of wearable technology. Bluetooth headsets, smart watches, and web-enabled glasses allow people to access data hands-free from Wi-Fi networks. An entire industry devoted to the development of applications that can work with wearable technologies has recently developed, with services being sold or given for free to individuals willing to download applications. These applications cover a broad spectrum: from those focused on health and exercise, to sports and maps.

Wearable technologies present a significant opportunity for businesses, both in terms of new markets and data collection. Retailers can ping wearable devices to determine which sections of a store a consumer visits, advertisers can target consumers based on location and the nature of the application associated with the device, and information uploaded to a website dedicated to the device can provide marketers with information specific to an individual consumer.

How companies use the data gleaned from wearable technologies will continue to evolve as regulators and individuals grapple with privacy in the age of the Internet. The willingness of so many people to utilize this technology, however, indicates that these types of electronics are popular and are likely to continue to be so.