DEFINITION of 'Wearable Technology'

Wearable technology is a blanket term for electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing. There are many types of wearable technology but some of the most popular devices are activity trackers and smartwatches. 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. This ability to both send and receive data has pushed wearable technology to the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT).

BREAKING DOWN 'Wearable Technology'

Wearable technology has become more popular as smart phones, mobile applications, computing, and broadband connectivity have gained market traction, but it has been a part of how people have imagined the future for generations. Dick Tracy, a comic book hero, was shown communicating via a two-way wrist radio in the 1930s and The Jetsons, an animated television show, featured other wearable technologies in the 1960s. The functions being portrayed grew in media and fiction, but the technology to produce a wearable device took much longer to develop. 

The Explosion in the Wearable Technology Sector

The growing popularity of mobile networks has been one of the most important factors in the development of wearable technology. Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches 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 rapidly developed and caught on with a trend where people began seeking new personal insights through real time data collection - often expressed as big data analytics for your self or the quantified self. Activity trackers represented the first big wave of wearable technology to catch on with the help of social sharing. Then, as the wrist became a new screen, pushing notifications and adding more robust tracking functions and processing power came naturally.   

The Future of Wearable Technology

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.

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