5 industries wearable tech will turn upside down

Why your everyday life will never be the same again

Disruption is a fearsome word. It strikes fear into the heart of anyone who hears its name, be it commuters waiting for a train or CEOs of gargantuan monopoloids, watching as their empires collapse.

Essential reading: 5 wearables that could save your life

Digital downloads disrupted the music industry, streaming disrupted the TV. But what will wearable tech disrupt? Well, if you’re doctor, teacher or cinema projectionist, it’s time to start looking out for wearables.

Here's what the experts say will be the next places to be radically changed by wearable tech.

Your workplace

According to research by Trend Micro, 70% of workers will be using wearable tech in the future, and we’re already well on the way. Lenovo’s SmartBand already promises workers daily time-savings by unlocking PCs without a password, while Citrix has already brought the dreaded conference call to Android Wear, so smartwatch wearers can listen in whatever they’re doing.

Tesco and Amazon are also tracking every movement of their distribution centre workers, thanks to armband devices used for tasks like scanning and order picking. Again, it saves workers time, stopping them logging items on a clipboard – although does sort of turn them into human drones.

Less Big Brother like are new health initiatives by BP and Diageo, which hand out Fitbits to employees, with the view that healthier people make better workers. Nice, in that special corporate way.

Your entertainment

Oculus Rift is helping to create a whole new way to watch movies, and it's already here. TotalCinema360 plays a film on your headset where you’re actually in the scene, with the ability to look around 360-degrees at all times as the movie plays. If you’ve already got a headset, check out this 360 movie showreel. Take that Cineworld!

Essential reading: Best hacks for Oculus Rift

Wearables are also dictating the future of entertainment, and new tech means experiences can be tailored to crowdsourced emotions. The XOX Sensory Wristband does just that by monitoring biometric signals it gauges from skin conductivity, meaning that the on-stage climax can be timed to the moment the audience is primed to go crazy. Imagine what a night-time music festival would look like if everyone wore one.

Your doctor

While surgeons have already been using Google Glass in the operating theatre for hands-free access to information and even live streaming, VR headsets like Oculus Rift are tailor-made for medical students to learn their surgical skills on something with a virtual heartbeat.

Surgeons at a hospital in Paris recently recorded a stereotactic 3D video from an operation to use with an Oculus Rift.

It’s not just professionals benefiting. Your smart devices will become portable medical passports, which you’ll be able to hand over to doctors should something happen. You’ll soon be able to give the ER doctor your complete medical record with a swipe, including previous x-rays and current medications.

What’s more, thanks to Apple Health you might not even have to give your doctors the information. As well as letting us share our daily fitness stats with our doctors (steps taken, heart rate, sleep, etc), we get to access our full health records, stored in the cloud. The HealthKit API is designed to be able to send information securely to your doctors – it’s just a case of waiting for medical practices to catch up.

Fancy something a little more sci-fi? See if you can swallow Google X’s newest project, a nanoparticle-laden pill that could detect the very earliest signs of cancer with a wrist-worn monitor. Too crazy? Then how about Google X’s smart contact lens, designed to monitor glucose levels for diabetics and licensed by Novartis in July 2014.

Your holiday

Tech has already changed the way we behave abroad - think Google Maps, TripAdvisor, AirBnB, text translation apps, selfies - but wearables have the potential to disrupt it even further.

If you’re travelling somewhere sunny, the SunFriend band will monitor your sun exposure and warn you if you’re getting too much. And there are countless advances in tech clothing to help travellers stay warm or keep cool, depending on where their plane has landed.

Essential reading: How wearables will change the way we travel

Remember Microsoft’s amazing instantaneous voice translation demo? Sigmo, a miniature, wearable unit crowdfunded on Indiegogo, promises to make that Star Trek fantasy a reality soon. But let’s be honest, it’s actually the perfect travel app for smartwatches.

Your kid's education

The use of wearable tech in education has been widely predicted, and from P.E classes in schools to lectures in higher education, wearables are set to revolutionise teaching.

In schools, fitness trackers will help to monitor how students are doing in an exercise class and give proper feedback on their performances, trackers like LG's GizmoPal will keep tabs on them during a school trip and Google Glass will provide at a glance notes in class, and the ability to record lectures.

Moving it up a notch in the adrenalin stakes, the UK army has announced an Oculus Rift-based medical simulator for training medics in battlefield triage – it includes options for sniper fire and bomb attacks, turning training exercises into real-life scenarios.


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