(Also posted on linkedIn)
As we begin the new year, many people are speculating what 2017 will bring in terms of new technology— especially with the events of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently. While the last couple years seem to have been dominated by new wearable tech, it seems that in 2017, we’re taking a step further. 2017 is set to be the year that hardware technology becomes invisible and information becomes more actionable. It seems like only the natural progression of technology that started as stationary—with computers--, then turned to mobile—with smartphones, tablets, and watches—and now is becoming virtually invisible by existing entirely in the cloud.
Amazon Echo was arguably one of the first to start the trend and this year, it shows no signs of stopping. In fact, the Echo dot was Amazon’s top seller over the holidays and just a few days ago, Ford announced that it will be the first automaker to integrate Echo into their cars. Forgot to turn the lights off in the house before you drove away? No problem, just tell Alexa to turn them off—no touch screens required.
Even wearable technology is going more invisible this year. Instead of the obvious “wearable” tech like smart watches, this functionality is now being integrated invisibly into other items we already wear like belts, handbags, and even fabric itself. But beyond that, its invisible, wearable technology is doing more than just recording data—like how many footsteps you take or what your heart rate is. Instead, this new technology takes that data and forms it into actionable information. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
- Omron – An example of one of many healthcare companies that is making strides with wearable technology. Known as a leader for blood pressure monitors for the past several decades, Omron’s next prototype Project Zero 2.0 is wearable technology that tracks blood pressure and other heart activity with the same accuracy as you’d find in the doctor’s office. With Omron’s wearable tech, blood pressure monitoring isn’t just limited to the doctor’s office or pharmacy machine any longer.
- Xenoma – This wearable tech isn’t an accessory—it’s the clothing itself. Xenom’as e-skin is machine washable fabric created with tracking technology that is as comfortable to wear as an everyday long-sleeve shirt. It seems as though the applications for this have scratched the surface of possibilities, but for now, it can easily be used for gaming as an input controller, for fitness as a personal coach for tracking and improving form, and for healthcare to monitor movement, posture and respiration.
- ReSound – Another long-time leader in their space, ReSound is revolutionizing wearable tech with hearing aids. Their latest models are capable of being fully adjusted through a smartphone app, which means wearers no longer have to visit their audiologist each time they need a tweak with their devices.
- AcousticSheep – There is a lot of tech out there that tracks sleep patterns, but AcousticSheep has found a way to put that data in action with their latest wearable tech, the SleepPhones PERFORM. This device is a soft, comfortable headband thin, wireless audio headphones one can easily wear to sleep with. However, this device also has internal sensors that use the body’s own feedback to create a customized music soundtrack to making falling asleep, and staying asleep, even easier.
Just as has happened with all of the industry-changing technology of the past, at first we question if it will ever really “catch on” with everyday users, but soon we find ourselves just a few years later wondering how we ever lived without it.