The Rise of Wearable Technology
It’s been clear for some time now that “Wearable Tech” is more than just a new buzz-phrase. Watches, clothing, glasses and everything in between seems to have a “smart” variant and the applications for the technology are almost endless. Now that companies such as Samsung and Apple are on board with their own wearable technology products, public acceptance for wearables is at an all time high.
Of course that wasn’t always the case.
Every new technology takes time to build traction and credibility and relies on early adopters to drive initial growth. This a pretty standard cycle, but wearable technology, despite being around for a number of years is only now emerging from it’s early adopter status — an arguably overly extended cycle.
Wearable technology is unique in that as its namesake would suggest, it is worn on your person and is visible — you can’t stick it in your pocket and the most highly functional products aren’t worn under your clothing. The unique problem with this is that in a society that’s increasingly self-conscious about its image, we can’t conceal the fact we’re doing something different.
Like the first early adopters of the cell-phone who couldn’t hide away their devices without missing out on the functionality of the product, early users of wearable technology often have to bear the questions, awkward glances and eye-rolls of a wider society that assumes the technology is a passing fad.
Those of us working in the industry have known this is not the case for some time now, and as widespread adoption is imminent, many other people are starting to understand why. Wearable technology is unique in that it is beginning to enable us in ways we wouldn’t have imagined possible.
The first devices to enter the market had limited functionality: fitness trackers and smart watches are useful, but now they themselves have increasing functionality and newer products are starting to emerge that empower people like never before. eSight’s own wearable technology, glasses that enable the legally blind to see, is one such innovation.
Assistive and accessible technologies have their own stigma attached that’s similar in some ways to the stigma around wearable technology. Its a stigma that’s been created around an individual’s disability and the visual aesthetic of the technology involved. In some cases the technology or the disability begins to define aspects of us and this is a mistake.
We get so used to assistive technology and disability that we find it difficult to think about who we are without them. What happens when technology has the ability to completely bypass a disability and neither define us any longer?
Like most other wearable technologies eSight experienced questions, speculation and even some skepticism in its early stages. However, eSight was fortunate that the benefits that come from using the technology far outweighed the novelty factor of wearables. Now that this novelty factor is evaporating, eSight and its users can take the focus away from questions like, “what is this technology?” or “what does it do?” and instead focus on the more important question: “who am I without it?”