Supervised by: Ibrahim Berksoy BSc, Msc. Ibrahim studied Computer Education and Educational Technologies at Bogazici University and completed his Master’s degree in Computer Education and Instructional Technologies at Yildiz Technical University. He is currently working on his PhD in Education at the University of Bristol, with his thesis research centring on digital educational game design.
Wearable technology is a form of technology designed to be worn on the user’s body and the demand has been rising exponentially. Since this form of technology is becoming increasingly popular, it is important to understand its implications and whether it is as beneficial to society as it is marketed to be. The primary objective of this article is to act as a holistic source of information that is accessible to people who are considering integrating wearables into their lives. This article also aims to discuss all the different aspects of wearable technology, including its development throughout history, some key attributes and even places wearables in the different contexts of market segments. While this type of technology has the ability to transform the world as we see it today, it is worth noting the many concerns that may arise. The paper also intends to evaluate their feasibility, comment on the trajectory of its growth and discuss its utility in the metaverse. The technology is still in its infancy and the promising development towards the solutions for the drawbacks are also highlighted in the discussion.
1.1.1 What is Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology is an emerging sector in the technology industry where products are designed to be worn on a user’s body. They utilize a wide variety of technological complexity, from basic data collection to being aided by artificial intelligence (AI). Generally, wearable technology utilizes batteries, a microprocessor and an internet connection so that information can be collected and synced with other devices over the internet.
1.1.2 Current Influence
Wearable technology is already a massive part of our daily lives. From listening to music while traveling to tracking your workout on your wrist, and measuring your heartbeat through a pacemaker, wearable technology surrounds us and its influence is only going to grow as the Internet of Things (IOT) also continues to grow (Merchant, 2021). Even though many of these devices we currently use don’t have the processing power usually associated with wearable technologies, it doesn’t have to have AI in order to be considered wearable technology (Yasar, 2022). Some early examples of wearable technology include timepieces, watches, pocket watches, glasses, etc. This new market is simply for a more advanced version of wearable technology, with more processing powers that can perform even more functions than previously before.
We are already relying on wearable technology, and there are many possibilities. Various fields in daily life are reliant on wearable technology, supporting not only healthcare but also security and accessibility. Current wearable technology, such as previously mentioned smartwatches, provide shortcuts to monitoring fitness levels, using GPS tracking and communication with others quicker (GCFGlobal.org, 2019).
1.2. The History of Wearable Technology
1.2.1 Wearable Technology Origin
The origins for wearable technology first started in the 13th century, by the invention of eyeglasses. Years later to turn into smartwatches, fitness trackers, or other popular consumer gadgets that make up wearable technology today (Dev.Login, 2022). With IOT and AI, wearable devices are now being used in a wide range of sports, consumer products, healthcare, navigation systems, sophisticated fabrics, and more (Hayes Adam, 2022). However, despite the fact that the first watches, some of which were wearable, were made in the 15th century, wearable technology as we know it today did not truly exist until the 1960s.
1.2.2 Evolution of Wearable Technology
Beginning in 1961 when Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon developed a compact four-button computer that could be worn around the waist or in a shoe, of which the computer served as a timing device to forecast where the ball would fall to aid players who wanted to cheat at roulette in casinos (Dev.Login, 2022). Yasar Kinzaet et al. (2022) continues the developing idea of how wearable technology changed over the years. Such as with the following: the first calculator wrist watch was invented by Pulsar in 1975; which rapidly became a fashion statement, causing other companies, like Casio, to release watches later in the 1980s. Eventually, less than a decade later Sony released the Walkman; becoming one of the most popular music devices in the 1980s. Along with the first ever digital hearing aid in 1987; developing the further idea of wearable technologies in health care. In the 1990s, going on to the 2000s, there was a major introduction of connectivity in wearable technologies, by using IOT, creating an explosion in the 2000s of Bluetooth headsets, Fitbits, and iPods. Finally in the 2010s to now, present-day wearable technologies have made constant new improvements in healthcare, military, entertainment, and more; such as Apple Watches, VR sets, and Google Glass.
Figure 1: Evolution of Wearable Technology
Ultimately, there has been a lot of funding and research towards wearable technology in all the different kinds of classifications; which affect the world we live in today. Namely, in the past, individuals who were diabetic had to always make a physical visit to their physician, just to measure their blood and glucose levels. However, now one can simply use a handheld device or sensor implantment in their arm to be continuously aware of their vitals (Dev.Login, 2022). So, as shown, wearable technology is always in development for improvement and is improving everyday making our future more pliable in the world of technology.
1.3. Characteristics of Wearable Technology
On the market today, there are a plethora of different wearable technologies available making it important to classify these different types. We can use two main features to categorize the technology: its appearance and its purpose or functionality. Wearable technology can take many different physical forms including wristwatches, eyewear and even implants. The increasing demand for such technology, coupled with the exponential decrease in the size of microchips means that devices are getting smaller and more inconspicuous, making their integration into our everyday lives even easier (Arcuri & Shivakumar, 2022).
The vast variety of wearable technologies allows us to choose one best adapted for a particular application, thereby optimizing its performance. The range of devices being produced today means that wearable technologies may be implemented in several different ways and this is another way by which we can group them. Embracing this new era of innovation would enable us to revolutionize many industries and fields such as healthcare and entertainment; this is something we will elaborate more on later in our discussion of the potential of wearable technology.
1.3.1 Technical Aspect of Wearable Technology (Hardware)
Specifically relating to hardware, the main components of wearable technology are microprocessors, batteries, sensors and internet connectivity, enabling the synchronization of given data with other electronics. These components are incorporated into the wearable technology to monitor the physical motion of the user. For example, sensors in smartwatches or activity trackers which help with location-tracking or biometric identification by having straps that go around the user’s wrist, tracking their daily activities and vitals.
Additionally, wearable technologies contain the constant improvement of battery energy density, due to a mainly battery-based energy source. Better battery energy densities can allow the device to run for a longer time because of the weight and space constrained in the device. Lastly, internet connectivity allows these devices to connect and exchange the data that has been collected to other devices. For instance, by linking the collected data, wearable devices in the IOT can automatically alter wearable device operations and gather data for analysis from both devices, better helping the bridge for software and hardware in the operating system.
In addition to capable hardware, wearable technologies need capable software to function properly and work as expected. According to Yamanda (2014), the most important part of all digital devices is the operating system (OS), and it is no different for wearables because it is the bridge that connects the hardware and the software of these devices, including wearables. He Jiang et al. (2015) mentions that designing an operating system for a wearable device or any device generally requires certain features: convenience, effectiveness, scalability, openness, and multitasking. All of these should be considered during operating system development.
1.3.2 Technical Aspect of Wearable Technology (Software)
In addition to the operating system, data processing is one of the main software processes needed for wearables. Data processing is essential because it is the process in which measurements and data provided by wearable technologies are translated into usable information. As Aleksandr Ometov et al. (2021) mentioned, even though data processing differs slightly between different devices, the process is similar at its core. This process can be broken down into six main steps (collection, pre-processing, data transfer, computing paradigms, data processing, and data storage) that produce information users could easily perceive and be used for further analysis, storage, and development.
Additionally, an integral part of wearable devices is their ability to communicate with the devices around them like computers, mobile phones, etc. The communication process relies on several technologies including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFCs, and more. However, these technologies are relatively simple given the limited capabilities of our current wearables (He Jiang et al., 2015; Aleksandr Ometov et al., 2021). Thus, energy efficiency, speed of transfer, and safety of the protocols used are vital factors to consider when developing any technology for wearables. As technology evolves, all of the current software will improve, increasing wearables’ use and making them more reliable.
1.4. Advantages of wearable technology
The way we interact with the world around us has been transformed by wearable technology, which has emerged as a transformative innovation. These portable devices, ranging from fitness trackers to smartwatches and beyond, provide a variety of advantages that improve numerous aspects of everyday life, such as safety, productivity and health. We can access a world of opportunities as we easily incorporate wearables into daily life, from higher efficiency and connectivity to improvements in health and safety. This section analyzes the numerous advantages that wearable technology offers, laying the foundation for its future.
Wearable technology, such as smartwatches, have the ability to track locations and send emergency messages in case of dire situations. These capabilities have the potential to save lives and provide security for users. With the use of GPS tracking, wearable devices have the potential to share a user’s location with healthcare services in cases of emergency. Many devices include wellness tracking functions including heart rate and fall detection that can send out alerts to contacts or emergency services if abnormalities or accidents happen. Additionally, wearables created for certain professions, such as firefighters or construction workers, can track environmental conditions and provide essential data to guarantee safer working conditions. As stated by Awolusi, Marks and Hallowell (2018), especially in construction, workers are constantly exposed to hazardous environments that require the use of wearables to ensure constant safety.
With wearable technology being accessible at nearly all times from all places, users are able to improve their productivity and accessibility. Due to the devices’ ability to display real-time notifications, receive calls and access information on the go, the need to constantly check cell phones or other devices is eliminated. Moreover, wearable devices are hands-free and therefore allow users to continue performing tasks while still being kept updated and accessing key information (Kelsey, 2022). Wearable technology could speed up procedures in fields like distribution and storage by providing employees access to data instantly, reducing the time required for manual data entry, and improving productivity. The use of wearable technology significantly increased the productivity of healthcare professionals in a hospital setting, according to research from the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Nurses and doctors could respond quickly to urgent requests and patient updates without having to constantly check their phones or computers due to wearable technology. It took 20% less time to respond to urgent patient needs as a result of the improved communication and information access, which ultimately enhanced patient care and outcomes. In addition, the wearables prompted medical staff to schedule regular breaks and keep track of their own health, which decreased burnout and raised overall productivity in the facility (Smith et al., 2021).
Various types of wearable technology, such as fitness trackers or smartwatches, enable users to track and maintain their physical health. By implementing functions such as tracking sleep patterns, daily physical activity and heart rate, wearable devices can help users set and achieve health goals. Additionally, wearables are able to analyze and suggest improvements to current health habits to improve areas such as sleep quality or fitness levels, and therefore enhance focus and stress levels. Wearable medical technology has a significant impact on the healthcare industry, saving hospitals time and money while providing patients with convenience. Continuous monitoring is crucial, especially during treatment, and wearable health tracking devices have greatly improved this process’s effectiveness. These wearable technologies allow for close patient monitoring, improving results and streamlining healthcare procedures (Han, 2022).
Overall, wearable technology has the ability to enhance user safety and health with various tracking functions, while simultaneously improving productivity and efficiency to connect people. They also play a vital role in promoting better health habits for all users, improving quality of life and efficiency of healthcare. It also has the capabilities to improve various fields, laying a strong foundation for its future potential. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that wearable technology also comes with various drawbacks that are necessary to address before a full immersion into wearable technology.
1.5 Drawbacks of Wearable Technology
Wearables can be very beneficial if incorporated correctly into our lifestyle. However, they do come with their risks and downsides which will be covered in this section. Ometov et al. (2021) claims that technology has generally been evaluated through pros and cons and these are all completely dependent on opinion and are subjective, thus it is important for us to cover the disadvantages in a generic manner.
The fundamental principle behind wearables is data collection and processing and this poses a problem as most people are concerned with where and how this data is being used. Below are a few drawbacks chosen to provide an insight into different ways wearables could negatively impact an individual using them ranging from psychological effects to physical limitations of the technology.
1.5.1 Health Anxiety
The incorporation of wearable technology in our daily lives can make us obsess over our data. For example, the pros and cons of wearable technology states that users might micromanage the calories they burn which could lead to certain eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. In addition, obsession over data such as calories present in every meal, hours slept, steps taken and more, could lead to health anxiety according to Dr George Zgourides, a Texas-based psychologist (Ducharme, 2019). Researchers in Duke University found that tracking an activity reduces the fun and the enjoyment of the activity when it is being tracked and that people would do less of the activity when it is not being tracked. Thus, rather counterintuitively, obsessing and micromanaging over the data tracked from a wearable might not be beneficial for the user in terms of their mental health.
Furthermore security has always been an issue with wearable technology. Data can be intercepted or hacked from proprietary servers. Ometov et al. (2021) claims that wearable technology is one of the most vulnerable wireless technologies to privacy threats due to its close proximity to the human body. A study conducted by CitizenLab and Open Effect concluded that health apps could collect personal data without the user’s permission and can send it to third parties or ad companies (Hilts, 2023). Consequently, data is almost openly available on servers for hackers and thus is a great concern for the producers of wearables.
Some wearables in today’s age can record audio and video posing a threat to the integrity of the users. Hackers could take advantage of such abilities in smart glasses or smart watches and capture video and audio of the user without permission. Such capabilities of wearables, if not secure enough, could work against them in terms of their incorporation in our everyday lives (Drolet, 2016).
1.5.3 Small Form-Factor
Generally, wearables are designed to be ergonomic and compact so that the users feel comfortable when using them. This results in a generally small form-factor for wearables which brings a few downsides with it. Wearables would require a battery to power the device and the lack of space could result in a lower capacity battery being utilized. Thus, developers must be able to optimize battery usage as much as possible to get reasonable battery life from the device (Kalia, 2018). Furthermore, a small form factor would result in lower processing power. Thus, the device would be reliant on an external device such as a smartphone which could connect through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. When the devices are out of range and a connection cannot be established, the functionality of the wearable can decrease, hence it might not be efficient to use a wearable if it is consistently out of range of the external device.
Thus, wearable technology has its downsides and these should be thoroughly evaluated before committing to purchase one. Many of these downsides can be fixed in the future through research and development and eventually wearable technology will become increasingly integrated in our daily lives. However, the fact that the technology is quite mainstream, even though it is still in its infancy, suggests that the potential benefits and advantages to wearables substantially outweigh the drawbacks that arise with it.
2. WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY IN DIFFERENT SECTORS
2.1. Examples of Wearable Technology in Health
The global market for wearable technology in health care is growing rapidly, with 275 million units created in 2021 and a projected 440 million units expected to be created in 2024 (Sachdeva, 2023). The medical community has already adopted wearables for various different purposes, such as monitoring a patient’s health or helping them overcome debilitating conditions that impact their everyday life.
The main advantage of wearable technology in regards to monitoring the health of patients is their small size that does not restrict the movement of the patient. It can gather data from patients going about their everyday life, allowing medical professionals to gain insight into the root causes of certain conditions (Blanton, 2021). Perhaps while a patient is performing a specific action, the readings from the wearable indicates that something is wrong. Everything from changes in a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, all of which can be measured by current wearables, will help the medical professional administer the right treatment as quickly as possible.
2.1.1 ECG Wearable Sensors
ECGs, or electrocardiograms, are devices that record the electrical signals in the heart used to monitor the health of the heart and detect heart problems. Previously, these devices were similar to MRIs since a patient had to travel to a hospital in order to undergo an ECG test (Main Line Health, 2022). By using wearable ECG sensors, patients can now constantly monitor the conditions of their heart while partaking in daily activities. Furthermore, certain wearable ECG sensors have the capability to immediately alert medical professionals in the case of an irregular reading, allowing for faster responses in the case of heart attacks or other heart related medical emergencies. Some professionals are still untrustful of the validity of the data obtained from wearable ECG sensors, but this study on the use of wearable ECG devices demonstrates that wearable ECGs have consistently demonstrated their non-inferiority in detecting arrhythmias when compared to the current standard of care (Kamga, Mostafa and Zafar, 2022). Furthermore, the study states that it could improve patient care while reducing healthcare costs at the same time.
2.1.2 Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are popular wearable devices commonly used by athletes or those with a passion for exercise. Many companies like Fitbit and Samsung have created these devices to be able to track steps, heart rate, calories burnt, blood oxygen levels, and more. While these are not as vital to the medical community as an ECG that could detect a life-threatening heart attack, they can improve the overall health of the population and act as a preventative measure against diseases. Even though a fitness tracker will not directly lead to someone exercising, it could trigger the Fogg Behavior Model and prompt individuals to make a change in their lifestyle due to the presence of fitness tracker (HIMSS, 2021). The Fogg Behavior Model states that in order for an individual to take action, there must be motivation, ability and a prompt. The action of buying a fitness tracker can act as both motivation and a prompt for an individual to take action and change their lifestyle, thus indirectly leading to a healthier community (Stanford Behavior Design Lab, n.d.).
2.1.3 Artificial Pancreas
Insulin pumps are essentially wearable medical devices that are used by diabetics to better manage their blood sugar levels. They are small, portable devices that deliver a continuous and precise dose of insulin into the body (usually rapid acting insulin). The insulin pump consists of a pump device, which contains a reservoir of insulin, and a small, flexible tube called a catheter which forms part of the infusion set that is inserted under the skin and delivers insulin directly into the body. This method of insulin delivery is called Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion (CSII) (Pickup, 2018). The pump itself resembles a small pager and is worn outside the body, typically clipped to a waistband or placed in a pocket. The most advanced type of insulin pump available today is an Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop System (AHCL), so called because the pump requires basic inputs from the user, individual pre-entered patient parameters and then uses its own advanced programme algorithms and pattern recognition capability to automatically adjust insulin dosing based on real-time glucose data readings from a Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor also worn on the body (Garcia Tirado et al, 2021). While it is an expensive and advanced piece of technology, it is a device that can potentially help diabetics attain a closer to “normal” life.
To summarize, the integration of wearables in the healthcare field has plenty of advantages. It has the potential to aid with early diagnosis which can make a huge difference in the efficacy of the treatment provided. It can even alleviate pressure on the healthcare industry meaning manpower and resources can be more effectively distributed. It can also reduce costs and majorly improve patient autonomy and empower patients to take control and personalize the healthcare they receive. Like with everything, it also has its disadvantages which primarily stem from the privacy and technical issues that may arise, but with the developments and improvements being made today it is very clear that the incorporation of wearable technology in healthcare will yield positive results on a grand scale.
2.2. Examples of Tearable Technology in Military
While wearable technology is continuously increasing its prevalence in our daily lives, it has also begun to make an impact in the military. With the newfound Internet of Battlefield Things (IOBT), soldiers are now essential for information collection and resource control on the battlefield (Shi et al., 2019). Most prominently, wearable devices are applied to improve soldier connectivity and productivity. By implementing these devices, they are able to provide soldiers with real-time vital information, improve battlefield communications and awareness. On the battlefield itself, wearables are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of each soldier. This information also has the ability to advise commanders on the best choices regarding their troops.
2.2.1 Armor Technologies
As wearable technology is now being further developed into clothing, the military is able to produce smart body armor that can detect injuries, assist medics and monitor surrounding conditions. This not only improves the safety and survivability rate of soldiers, but also notifies them of possible endangerment (Hinde, White and Armstrong, 2021). A specific type of wearables known as biometric sensors offer an ideal, remote health-monitoring solution for soldiers, allowing for biometric data collection such as EKGs and ECGs. These sensors are printed onto a stretchable film, enabling them to be incorporated into military clothing without restricting movement. By applying these sensors to various fabrics and military gear, soldiers can benefit from continuous monitoring of vital information, regardless of their location. This capability facilitates the remote tracking of critical patient data, ensuring timely and effective medical interventions when needed (Butler Technologies, 2020).
2.2.2 VR Uses
The implementation of wearable technology and virtual reality (VR) in the military is growing, offering soldiers with enhanced communication, tactical awareness, and training options. This type of technology can also be utilized outside of the battlefield; with VR, training exercises can be accessed easily while improving soldiers’ skills and knowledge without actual risk. VR has the ability to create realistic and interactive training simulations for soldiers. In a secure and monitored environment, trainees can experiment with a variety of combat scenarios and practice making strategic choices. These simulations help soldiers become more competent, prepared, as well as capable of making split-second decisions, preparing them for actual combat situations (O. Binsch et al., 2022). Additionally, augmented reality (AR) devices integrated into wearable devices provide soldiers with valuable real-time information regarding their surroundings. This data can include GPS navigation, tactical maps, and live feeds from drones or surveillance cameras.
On the other hand, VR technology also has the ability to help soldiers and veterans cope with mental health and issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD has a high impact on quality of life and, although effective treatments exist, barriers to care still prevent many survivors of trauma from receiving the care they need. Some of these barriers could be removed with the help of technology, such as systems that allow for participation in online therapy at home. Such systems provide a cost-effective, privacy-sensitive, and accessible option for therapy. Virtual agents (computer-generated, animated, virtual human characters) are one way to address this issue, as they have been shown to improve treatment compliance and even treatment outcomes in other domains (E. Vermetten et al., 2022).
Overall, wearable technology and virtual reality (VR) are rapidly transforming military operations and soldier well-being. The development of smart body armor with biometric sensors allows for continuous monitoring of vital data, enabling real-time detection of injuries and critical patient information. VR technology enhances soldier training and decision-making through realistic and interactive simulations, preparing them for combat scenarios while minimizing actual risks. Additionally, VR has promising applications in addressing mental health challenges like PTSD by providing accessible online therapy and virtual agent support. As wearable technology and VR continue to evolve, they offer tremendous potential for further advancements in military capabilities and care for soldiers both on and off the battlefield.
2.3 Examples of Wearable Technology in Entertainment and Gaming
Over the years, the increased popularity in the entertainment and gaming sectors have resulted in the incorporation of wearable technology in them. They allow users to play video games in VR, listen to music, watch videos in AR and much more. Since then, the technology has developed greatly from being able to play music for a child in the mother’s womb, to being able to project holograms into the user’s field of view. Some examples of wearable technology used in the gaming and entertainment sectors are VR, Smart Glasses and Smartwatches. This section will cover examples of their applications in their entertainment and gaming as well as how they work.
2.3.1 Virtual Reality
VR headsets allow users to interact with an artificially generated environment in a realistic manner and in real-time. The first ever application of wearable technology in the entertainment sector was in 1968 when Ivan Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull created a virtual reality head-mounted display capable of displaying basic virtual wire-frame shapes (Barnard, 2023). It can be used to play various games such as Horizon: Call of the Mountain, Gran Tourismo 7, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, and more. People can also interact with various exhibits in galleries in a more immersive manner than ever before, through VR.
Between an in-built LED screen and the user’s eyes, there are stereoscopic lenses which distort images to make them look 3-Dimensional. There are two images produced, one for each eye (Mattoo, 2022). The headset itself makes use of gyroscopes, accelerometers as well as magnetometers to be able to sense the user’s inputs.
2.3.2 Smart Glasses
Another example of a futuristic application of wearable technology is Smart Glasses. The first Smart Glasses were released in 2013 by Google. Although the Google Glass Explorer failed to gain traction in the market, it acted as inspiration for other companies who have developed their own Smart Glasses. Their aim is to provide the functionality of a smartphone directly on your head. They can play music, display an AR overlay, answer calls, take photos and video from your point-of-view and much more. Though Smart Glasses are still in their infancy, developers have incorporated games into their software. A few minigames include Fruit Ninja, Balance and Clay Shooter. The developers of the Google Glass aimed for simplicity in these games to be able to leave the game and return to reality quickly (Truong, A, 2014).
The glasses generally include a microphone to record the user’s voice as well as their surroundings. They are generally controlled by a Human Computer Interface (HCI). This includes buttons, remotely through a smartphone, gesture controls, voice controls, as well as eye-tracking (Harfield, 2021).
Another piece of technology that has had a big impact on the entertainment industry is the smartwatch. Smartwatches have become stronger as well as more compact over the years, from the first release of the smartwatch in 1994 known as the Timex Datalink (Lazaj & Lazaj, 2022), to the latest smartwatches from Samsung, Apple, Garmin and Fitbit. They are generally Bluetooth capable and can extend the features of a smartphone onto the user’s wrist. Users can interact with the watch to receive and make phone calls, read and answer notifications, track fitness activities, get weather reports and much more (Lutkevich & Provazza, 2022). The latest smartwatches developed by Google and Samsung, make use of Google’s Wear OS which allows the user to download apps and games from the playstore. Simple games such as Flappy Bird, Tic Tac Toe and Snake can be accessed directly from the user’s wrist. Additionally, smartwatches can allow users to control their music, watch videos and browse the internet, although at a very slow pace due to its small form factor.
Smartwatches generally come with their own accompanying app which allows the watch and the phone to sync so that data can be exchanged between the two. Some have GPS sensors and heart sensors to track steps, location and heart rate. A few of them are able to download third party apps such as Strava, Google Assistant, Spotify and more to help improve the user experience (Jonna, 2023).
2.4. Examples of Wearable Technology in Sport
2.4.1 Uses to Prevent Injuries
Sports are increasingly utilizing various technologies, including wearables, to provide valuable information into athletes’ health (Abdelgawad et al., 2019). This data provides valuable information that could help prevent injuries by tracking athlete training, recovery, and performance. Thus, wearable technologies are essential because they provide interested parties with significant insights into athletes’ health, which could help reduce the risk of injuries. As wearable technologies continue to develop, they are likely to play an even greater role in preventing injuries in sports.
Even though wearable technologies didn’t reach their full potential, they are used in various ways to prevent injuries. For example, biometric sensors track a player’s body temperature, hydration level, and sleep quality, all of which can help prevent future injuries (de Bruijn et al., 2022). In addition, other wearable sensors, such as GPS tracking devices and monitoring devices, can help assess players’ workload, thus identifying potential injury risks. Furthermore, wearables can provide real-time feedback, such as giving alerts whenever a user’s heart rate rises, which can help users change their behavior quickly, reducing the risk of injury (Côté et al., 2017). The use of wearable technology for injury prevention in sports is still in its early stages, but the potential benefits are clear. As the technology continues to develop,energy prevention has great potential in reducing costs and harms of injuries to players (Adesida, 2019).
2.4.2 Uses to Improve Performance and Track Player Activity
The huge amounts of data collected by wearables can offer helpful insights into athletes’ performance and statistics. Interested parties like athletes, coaches, and fans could find this information helpful in various ways. For example, Ryan T. Li et al. (2016) have mentioned that GPS tracking devices, gyroscopes, and accelerometers can be used to track player movements, distance covered, speed, and acceleration. Coaches could use this data to make informed decisions about which players to start for a game or to create objective plans for player improvement. In addition, fans can use this data to compare players’ statistics. A key reason for the widespread use of wearables in sports is their small size, which allows the data to be collected without interfering with the player’s performance.
2.4.3 Uses for sport rehabilitation
In the worst-case scenario where athletes are unable to prevent injuries, it is imperative for athletes to focus on rehabilitation in order to get back to their original level of performance (Physiopedia contributors, 2022). By leveraging the capabilities of wearable technology, athletes and doctors can assess the effectiveness of treatment and the extent of their recovery.
Data points such as muscle oxygen saturation (SmO(2)) levels can be used to give a comprehensive understanding of how muscles around the previously injured area are recovering. (Seshadri et al., 2021). By allowing athletes to wear these devices, data can be collected at a much greater frequency. With a greater amount of data points, including measurements such as velocity, force application, heart rate, and more, professionals are enabled to gain a better understanding of athletes’ recovery duration and quality (De Fazio et al., 2021).
Overall, wearable technology in sports gives athletes valuable information to improve their performance. As athletes push themselves to their limits, it is imperative that they can stay safe, understand how their body functions and recover quickly in order to reach the highest level. Undoubtedly, wearable technology will continue to be an integral part of athletes’ lives, providing them with an abundance of data to better understand themselves and optimize their performance.
2.5. The Future of Wearable Technology
2.5.1 Future Growth of Wearable Technology in the Market
The wearable technology market is growing at a rapid pace, and current predictions suggest that the global demand for wearables will only increase as the technology gets more and more advanced. In 2022, the global wearable technology market was valued at 61.3 billion USD (Grand View Research, 2021). Furthermore, the market is expected to have a 14.6% annual growth rate of 14.6%. The most significant driver of this growth will be the widespread adoption of wearables by consumers looking to monitor their health by keeping track of their blood pressure, sugar levels, heartbeat, and more (Grand View Research, 2021).
Figure 2: Expected growth of the wearable technology market from 2023- 2023 (Grand View Research, 2021)
2.5.2 Future Solutions to the Drawbacks of Wearable Technology
Wearable technologies still have many underlying issues that must be addressed if they are to be widely adopted by the general public. Three major hurdles that must be overcome are power management, processing power, and security (Ching & Mahinderjit Singh, 2016; GCF Global, 2019). These are issues inherent to wearable technology since the main advantage of equipment like smart watches are their small size and convenience.
One major concern of wearable technology is the lifespan of the device and how long it can be active before needing to be recharged. Currently, scientists are working on technology that will allow wearables to be recharged using body heat, solar energy, or the kinetic energy generated from the movement of the user (Perkovic, 2022). With the advent of such technology, companies are hoping to eliminate the need for wearables to be charged in its entirety.
Wearable technology often transfers and syncs extremely sensitive data to other devices, leading to security risks that can be taken advantage of by cybercriminals. This issue is even more pronounced in wearables, since they often sync to many devices and apps, making it more and more vulnerable. Furthermore, they often use insecure methods of wireless connection like Bluetooth. Because wearables are already lacking in processing power, many devices neglect to encrypt the sensitive data they are transferring that include a person’s health details, location, and credit card information (Ching & Mahinderjit Singh, 2016). In order to resolve this issue, researchers are already experimenting with methods of encryption that have a lighter load on the small processing power of wearable technology, hoping to further optimize the process to gain the most security for the smallest amount of investment in processing power possible (Kim, Byuck jin Lee & Sun Kook Yoo, 2013).
2.5.3 Wearables and the future of the Internet, the Metaverse
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our progress toward the future internet, the Metaverse. This next step in the internet’s evolution will provide us with an immersive virtual world for everyone to communicate through. The Metaverse will have applications in almost all industries we could think about from healthcare to entertainment. Wearable technologies will play a significant role in connecting us to this virtual experience because they will provide a portal into the virtual world, allowing us to interact with it in a more immersive way.
Wearable technologies will be the bridge that connects the physical and virtual worlds. Every aspect of the Metaverse will benefit from wearable technologies. First of all, wearables will be our gateway into the virtual world through VR/AR headsets or other XR technologies (Raj, 2021). In addition, wearable devices will be interconnected with other devices shaping an essential part of the future internet by making us more immersed in the virtual world. That is, wearable technologies will enhance the user experience, making it more subtle and real.
Moreover, the Metaverse will have applications in many sectors and wearable technologies are the most important part since they form the bases of the Metaverse’s technologies. The Metaverse will be a huge step in the eHealth sector, and wearables will have a huge role in this transformation by providing accurate and real-time measurements and tracking (Lopes, 2022). Moreover, the education sector is another beneficiary from the Metaverse, and with the use of wearable technologies the education process will be easier and more engaging. By using wearables like AR and VR headsets to overlay digital elements on the real world, education using wearables will be an immersive, enjoyable experience through the Metaverse and the concept of gamification (Solutions, 2023). Finally, we could safely say that there will be no Metaverse without wearables.
There are various ways and concepts in which wearables could be part of the Metaverse. The first main application is enhanced VR, AR, and XR technologies that could make the experience more immersive and real. A possible technology is brain-computer interface (BCI) which could be implemented within VR headsets to allow users to control the device with their minds (Simon, 2021). In addition, adding to the realistic experience of the Metaverse, as Raj (2021) mentioned, haptic gloves and suits, which have motors and sensors that would make the users feel what they are experiencing, maybe the technologies that will make us “feel” the virtual world. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the eHealth sector will also benefit from the Metaverse, but that will only happen with the help of wearable technologies. Wearables will have a huge role in monitoring patients and giving doctors the information they need to help patients through the Metaverse (Lopes, 2022).
Smartphones are our portal to the current internet, and wearables will be our portal to the next internet. Wearable devices’ progress is a direct improvement to the Metaverse since it will depend on them greatly. In addition, as wearable technologies develop, we will see more exciting and potential uses of wearable devices in the Metaverse.
The wearable technology market is growing exponentially, and influencing different aspects of our daily lives. At the basic level, wearable technologies are devices that could be worn on the body to assist us in different ways. Those technologies aren’t by means new; they started appearing after the invention of eyeglasses in the 13th century (www.reliancedigital.in, 2019). Nevertheless, since then they have been developing incredibly fast, thus classifying them differently based on their functionality and uses.
Wearables have two main aspects: hardware (electrical components like batteries and sensors) and software (operating systems and software processes). The advancement in wearable technologies have benefited us on different levels including health monitoring, convenience, and productivity (HIMSS, 2021). By tracking locations, sending emergency messages, and conveying alerts for accidents, hazardous environments or medical conditions, wearable devices can protect their users. However, similar to other technologies, they come with cons including health anxiety and privacy concerns. Additionally, researchers are continuously developing new technologies to combat the cons of wearables like utilizing handled devices to increase processing power and allow for the encryption of data transferred by wearable technology (Jiang and Shi, 2021).
Even with these cons, the trend of wearable technology in the market today indicates that it will become an essential part of modern life in the future. Wearable technologies like VR and health trackers are becoming more essential in different fields like entertainment, military, sports, and healthcare (Yasar Kinzaet et al., 2022). Researchers are already finding more functions for these devices to provide along with solutions to the security and health anxiety problems that are included in these devices, from false alarms to worry due to lack of encryption. People have already started to find novel methods to fix the privacy issues and alleviate the worries of the people who are pushing against this trend (Tahir, Tahir and McDonald-Maier, 2018).
Wearables are the bridge that will connect us with the future internet, thus making them an essential part of our future. Each aspect of wearable technologies is being further researched and developed daily. Thus, future developments could help make those devices more reliable and convenient. Furthermore, advancement in wearables will make them more influential in future fields. Finally, wearable technologies are and will continue shaping a huge part of our daily lives.
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