After the explosive releases of everyday wearables like FitBit, Apple Watch, and Jawbone, the future of wearable technology and devices is now moving at an even more accelerated speed – to a point where wrist wearables could be obsolete in mere years. The value of the market is predicted to continue on a steady incline, and to more than double by 2020. Countless companies are competing to put out the next big everyday wearable; we have caught glimpses, seen photos and footage, and read endless predictions of what’s to come on the wearable market. As a company interested in advancing the development and manufacturing of medical and military wearables, it’s exciting to see the progression and potential opportunity of the technology, and to see new trajectories of the future for wearable devices constantly emerging.
The inclusion of a biosensor in the technology utilized in wearable devices is futuristic thinking in and of itself, even if only for the use of monitoring daily activities and biological trends. This basic level of data collection is enough for fitness wearables, however, there is much further diagnostic potential for these sensors that some people are already taking advantage of. In the medical field, people have been using the same technology in daily wearables and advancing it to work in wearable medical garments. The market for wearable therapy is growing as the technology continues to advance to include systems for longer-term treatments. This also aids in the development of new home health care techniques and grants patients a new level of independence in self-monitoring and self-care. The evolution of a single wrist sensor to a system of interconnected biosensors in a garment will lead to new and more accurate monitoring and diagnostic capabilities.
The major shift that is already being realized is the shift towards “invisible” wearables. Invisible wearables can be anything from a smart textile garment with conductive thread woven in, technology in the button or snap of a shirt, any garment crafted with active smart textiles that can react to external stimuli and trigger a response. The developing field of smart textiles is becoming saturated with nanotextiles, which can be engineered to do any number of things to improve quality of life. There have also been recent developments of wearables powered by body heat, body movement, or even the sun. These textile technologies could lead to wearable devices that never require charging or new batteries. The end goal has moved towards wearable technology and regular garments to be indistinguishable from each other that can be worn without a worry of energy lifespan (source). To further this technology, the energy you generate can be used to charge other products that may require it, like a phone or a laptop.
The Internet of Things is playing a major role in the development of new smart garments as well, and can be expected to continue to be a central aspect of successful wearable devices. Simply put, the Internet of Things (or the IoT) is the network of any wearable device to other electronics or software. This can already be seen on a basic level in wearable fitness trackers collection and transmission of data to a corresponding app. This networking is going to be even more prevalent in the future of wearables, especially in the medical and military field. The collection of diagnostic data from a medical garment can be networked directly to your primary care physician or specialist to give round the clock metrics in real time, leading to a greater overview of living condition and changes in metrics patterns throughout a normal day. This can also aid in the treatment of someone who is at risk of a health emergency by tracking metrics and alerting emergency services if the data indicates a health emergency. Some devices of this nature are already undergoing field tests and clinical trials in order to test the reliability and accuracy, and it would not be surprising to see a major uprising of these on the market in years to come. This idea can also be applied to military technology in the same regard – tracking soldiers’ vitals while they are in the field and sending in aid in the event of an emergency.
The future of wearable devices is open for us to explore and experiment with. At Fieldtex, our contract sewing and manufacturing facilities are open to help bring ideas for wearable medical garments to production and aid in the forward momentum of medical and military wearable applications. Our first foray into our own branded wearable devices was a wearable therapy vest, and we plan on continuing do develop new ideas in our medical grade sourced materials.
Obviously, these are “safe” predictions in comparison to some far-out visions floating around the Internet; as far-out as those seem, technology is never too far behind an idea, especially if there is a demand or a need for that technology. The market for wearable devices will grow to encompass not only more convenient, accurate, and accessible everyday use, but also expand into more niche fields such as medical diagnosis and therapeutic treatment use, as well as military use. The result of this expansion will be a vast selection of wearables – some you will see and some you won’t – each with precise and vital processes based on the need of the wearer.
Click here to learn more about our Wearable Medical Device Garment manufacturing process.