What Is Wearable Technology?

What you wear might benefit from a little technology

Wearable technology is one of the coolest areas of the Internet of Things. Chances are you've heard of the FitBit, which tracks your fitness, or the Apple Watch, which lets you discreetly glance at incoming texts and emails right on your wrist. Wearable tech goes far beyond just these two gadgets, though. Here's the scoop on today's wearables, what they can do, and why high tech clothing is a hot trend to keep your eye on.

Old School Cool Meets Wearable Chic: Levi's Smart Jacket

Denim jackets are about as old school as it gets, but they're also getting hip to the age of wearables. Levi's and Google have created smart work clothes, including the Levi's Commuter Trucker jacket, that aims to streamline the daily commute so busy people no longer have to futz with their smartphones to access the information they need while riding a bike or walking across town.

These smart jackets let you swipe or tap your cuffs to play music or have your messages read aloud for you, for example. You can even have your jacket bookmark places of interest as you pass them by, which comes in handy if you live in a city. Newer models even vibrate to let you know when an Uber or Lyft is arriving. With a simple swipe, you can even access information on the make and model of the car, as well as its license plate number, eliminating the need to open your phone and search for the information.

From Yoga to the Beach: Smart Clothes for Fitness and Recreation

Yoga pants are popular among yoga practitioners and athleisure enthusiasts alike. Now, they're being embedded with Bluetooth and haptic sensors that allow them to track your movements as you proceed through your poses. Smart yoga pants like the Nadi X (Nadi means "flow" in Sanskrit) sync with your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and come with a library of at least 30 poses and playlists to match.

If your downward dog is a little off-center, smart yoga pants will let you know where you need to make an adjustment with a specific pulse that either highlights a problem area or indicates the direction you need to move towards. For more detailed guidance, you can consult personalized instructions on your smartphone. Yoga fans who practice solo could find this feature could particularly helpful.

It's not all concentration and namaste, though. Sometimes you want to relax with a day at the beach. While packing sunscreen and a good novel, you can include a smart bikini to complete your prep. And here, too, wearable technology can make your outing just a little bit smoother. Smart bikinis, like those made by Spinali Design, feature smart waterproof sensors that measure exposure to the sun; beachgoers can get a timely heads up when they need to reapply their sunblock.

Of course, some people are more sensitive to ultraviolet rays than others. Smart bikinis can take this into account, sending them a warning earlier so they can protect themselves. This wearable technology isn't just for women — men and children can take advantage of smart swim trunks and bathing suits, too.

Rockabye Baby: Monitor Clothing for Kids

There's even smart clothing for the little ones in our lives. Smart socks for babies, like the Owlet Baby Monitor, use pulse oximetry to give parents a heads up on key metrics regarding their tot's health, like heart rate and oxygen level. Tiny sensors in the socks transmit key information back to family members' smartphones, allowing them to see at a glance if the baby is doing okay.

With instant access to this data, busy parents can have peace of mind concerning their child's well-being that wouldn't have been possible in an earlier age. Should something unexpected occur, they can receive an early warning and respond right away. That way, families and hospital staff have a greater chance of smoothly and quickly addressing any health complications as soon as they come up.

Our Wearable Future Is Here

Wearable technology may seem like it came straight out of a science fiction movie, but it's slowly becoming an everyday part of our lives. It's also about to become a lot chicer, as fashion houses partner with Silicon Valley firms to roll out sleek and innovative smart wear.

From smart glasses that integrate with virtual assistants to earbuds providing real-time translation, there's no doubt high tech clothing will boldly advance into a new frontier before long. Some of these smart clothes may be expensive right now, limiting their appeal to early adopters and tech enthusiasts, but you can be sure we're going to find a lot more of them subtly interwoven into the world around us very soon.

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