By Martin Gee, Alexander Ho and Josh Raab
Ask anybody what personal technology will look like 10 years from now, and you’ll probably get a wrong answer. A decade ago, almost nobody could predict that more than a million people would buy a watch that not only tells the time, but reads your text messages, checks the weather and tracks your workouts, too. But that’s exactly what happened.
Smart shoes could charge your phone’s battery while you rush to work
The role technology plays in our lives is rapidly growing, as we become increasingly dependent on it and less willing to separate ourselves from it. The rise of wearable technology, from fitness trackers and the Apple Watch to Google Glass and Microsoft’s HoloLens, has been fueled by technology’s tendency to get faster and smaller at the same time. If we can be sure of anything, it’s that the future means we’ll be wearing our technology on the outside, and, perhaps one day, on the inside, too.
Your shirt could vibrate to help you find your way
While futurism is an imperfect science, it’s human nature to guess at what’s just around the corner. We asked six wearable technology specialists to predict where technology is taking us, creating hypothetical products based on their answers.
A personal assistant could be embedded in contact lenses
Their responses run the gamut from products that will become reality in the next few years, to outlandish concepts we’re just not ready for yet. There will inevitably be a need for new guidelines and laws to address ethical, moral, and security issues around wearable computers, but there is no denying that the line between reality and technology is already being blurred.
These normal-looking earrings will track your heart rate, body temperature and blood oxygen levels, providing you with vital health statistics. If you thought Bluetooth headsets made businessmen talking to themselves in public look strange, these earrings will take that to the next level.
Mood rings haven’t been cool in a long time, but mood shirts could bring the trend back. Sensors in your shirt will monitor your physiology, broadcasting it to the world around you—letting people respond appropriately. A mood shirt could even beam data to your insurer, getting you discounts for feeling positive and healthy. Small devices in the shoulders will provide a screen-free GPS through small directional taps known as haptic feedback.
These shoes will convert movement into energy, powering internal sensors and other wearable devices. The sensors will help the shoes cool and heat your feet as necessary, as well as track your exercise and any weight changes.
A virtual assistant built into your contact lenses will keep your life organized while it gets to know you better than any other person ever could. The assistant will be able to analyze your tears to understand your emotional reactions, predict your thoughts and intentions, and react accordingly, providing you what you need before you even know you need it.
Microchips in nail polish or even embedded under the fingernails themselves will allow the smart contact lenses to track your movements, enable a keyboard function for virtual screens, give you the ability to draw virtually in three dimensions, or provide real-time haptic feedback for holographic interactions with your friends.
Buttons haven’t changed in decades, but they’re about to get a big overhaul. Soon, they’ll have embedded GPS, tracking your movements and learning your habits. That will let all your wearables react in real-time to your location, predicting where you’re about to go or making suggestions on what’s next. Getting lost will be a challenge, but if you somehow manage to end up in an unknown or dangerous place, your buttons will be able to contact your family or call 911 for help.
Intelligent earrings could find the perfect songs for your mood
Make sure to charge up your smart shoes for tomorrow’s adventures
Wearable experts interviewed: Angela McIntyre—Research Director, Gartner, Inc.; JP Gowdner—VP & Principal Analyst, Forrester ResearchInc.; Qaizar Hassonjee—VP of Innovation, adidas Wearable Sports Electronics; Scott Amyx—Founder & CEO, Amyx+McKinsey; Ben Bajarin —Principal Analyst, Creative Strategies; Ayse Ildeniz—VP & GM for Business Development & Stategy, New Devices Group at Intel Corp.