What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements. Google's “Project Glass” features one of the most talked about current examples — the device resembles a pair of glasses, but with a single lens. A user can see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project. Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn-in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person's exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • For K12 one concern is that students will abuse the technology, pliable displays make it so that the devices are more challenging to break from dropping it. By reimagining where students are working and how they work new possiblities for what the learning environment looks like emerges. When a screen is no longer a physical barrier between the learner and the learning environment and the device becomes more integrated with the learner (ie: google glass... not exactly this topic, but the idea of the device being integrated with the person) new ways of accessing and displaying learning become possible. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 28, 2013
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 As if texting while driving weren't dangerous enough... ;)
  • - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 4, 2013 At a basic evel, wearable computing seems like the ultimate extension of "mobile computing". I could see a few broad categories of uses for "wearable" devices in education
    • Wearable computing in terms of sensors/data collection, such as devices like the fitbit http://www.fitbit.com or the MOVband (a "fitbit for schools") http://www.movable.com (overlaps with "Interent of Things" topic)
    • As an assistive technology, replacing bulk communication devices with iPads and Proloquo2Go, I can see similar potential applications in this for Google Glass and other wearables,
    • As a display device for some of the other technologies on the list such as real time translation, virtual assistant, virtual worlds etc..
    • As a delivery mechanism for what should probably be its own topic - Augmented Reality, for simulations, field trips,
    • As input device for some of the other technologies (natural user interfaces))
  • Here are a couple of articles that spark one's thinking:
    Electronic basketball measures skills:
    http://www.psfk.com/2013/03/electronic-tracking-basketball.html - michael.lambert michael.lambert Mar 4, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 This is coming, and sooner than we thought. The backlash will be significant, and if the technology does not prove itself useful in ed right away, it will be several years before we see it entering classrooms.
  • I think this technology is here already. Athletes around the world are using all types of monitoring equipment to measure aspects of their body performance. Airlines are beginning to ask pilots to connect to monitoring equipment to measure heart rate etc. The defence forces of many countries use wearable monitoring equipment. This like many other topics, will see many students (the early adopters) embrace this concept. Especially if it is seen as trendy to wear the gadgets. - Tony.Brandenburg Tony.Brandenburg Mar 5, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Include wearable along with the pliable. Having a pliable device is cool, but really not that much different than an iPad in many situations, it is still a separate device. Integrating the device into clothing, or other ways that the user and the technology more naturally work together changes how things are done. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 28, 2013
  • The total disruption of the classroom when students show up recording everything that happens and schools have not prepared for this eventuality. (Banning is not preparation). - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • I see students being able to not be hindered by lugging around a device and to have data recorded automatically to help them to be more efficient to creating and engineering during instruction. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 28, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Internet of things are enlivened with your device, using location, instead of needing NFC. Aurasma for everything in a science lab. Flat text can be recognized by software in the glasses and provide relevant information by the user. For teachers, the link from face to database can pose relevant questions based on student prior performance. This is limitless.
  • Life recording - forget the diary. We already have examples of this. Keeping this data private and secure will be critical. We've had sexting; with wearables, how soon before the first wexting? - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.