The prevalence of wearables in 2018 reflects a societal shift towards wellness, with more people than ever demanding greater agency over their health and fitness. Fitbits and other activity trackers are no longer purely the domain of those with hefty disposable incomes but the common property of school children and pensioners, accountants and plumbers, amateur and professional athletes alike.
Functionality of these products has also changed; now users can count the calories they have burned, measure their heartrate as they exercise and use GPS to track their run in real-time. There are meditative programs, sleep monitoring and message notifications synced from your smartphone. Then there is smart clothing, which is ideal for athletes and coaches to track training and monitor game day performance, and as has been the case with other sporting technology, it begins at the elite level and works its way down.
With more than 130 million wearable devices shipped as of 2018, this can hardly be described as a fad. In fact, it only looks like getting bigger, with popular fitness trackers (Fitbit and Garmin) and smartwatches (Apple Watch) joined in the market by ‘hearables’, which already exist but will be further refined to provide users with innovative features such as Biometric personal identification (recognising a person’s ear based on size and shape) and live translation from one language to another).
Medical professionals have been and will continue to take advantage of the progression in wearable technology to improve patient care. One such example is the ActionSense Glove; designed to rehabilitate the finger joints of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. There is also the Zephyr Anywhere’s Biopatch, which is attached to a patient’s chest to monitor vitals and record data, while surgeons have used Google Glass to preload x-rays without having to leave the operating theatre.
It is these types of wearables, the kind that change the dynamics of injury treatment and recovery, that will have cause significant change for medical professionals, athletes and people in general.
Telstra will be presenting at the Melbourne ACS Seminar, discussing a variety of topics including the impact of wearables on people in modern society. They will be around to answer any questions you have.