Five Best Wearable Tech Innovations To Look Forward To

There’s no denying smartwatches are the biggest thing in wearable tech at the moment but the next generation technologies will dramatically change that. The future of wearable tech is being conceived right now inside university labs, swanky studios and locked bedrooms.

Smart Fabrics

Smart clothing is increasingly dominating the wearable tech industry and is covering every sector of wearables.

We have bionic bras that adjust to body movements and nanowire clothes that reflect body heat to keep us warm but we can’t actually wear these too many times because they can’t be washed.

A team of engineers in Hong Kong have found a solution. Using a flat knitting machine they managed to combine elastic yarn and polyurethane coated copper fibres into a washable textile. In the lab, it was washed up to 30 times in a regular Whirlpool machine. Microchips can be attached to the ‘˜fabric circuit board’ structure which can carry electrical currents.

Hand tracking depth sensors

There’s a reason behind the acquisition of Nimble VR by Oculus. Nimble Sense turns out to have an amazing hand-track technology, the Leap Motion-style depth sensing camera. The camera uses a powerful laser that captures a 3D point cloud across a 110 degree field. The difference is made by the low latency skeletal hand tracking system which lets you use your hands within VR environments, when wearing the consumer version of the Oculus Rift VR headset.

Before closing Kickstarter count, the Nimble VR team announced they were given a lot of ideas for what to consider for their stretch goals, foot tracking and augmented reality being some of the highlights. Nimble decided to go for a longer range for the infrared camera and laser of 150cm versus the default 70cm. As a result of the Oculus acquisition, the three founders who have graduated MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Berkeley are now working next to Palmer Luckey to develop new features.

Ultrasensitive sensors

A team of researchers in South Korea designed tiny mechanical motors inspired by the the lyriform organs in the legs of female spiders who detect the vibrations created by male spiders.

In an article published in the scientific journal Nature, the Seoul National University scientists demonstrate the functioning of the nanosensors, made from placing ultrathin layers of platinum onto polymers to create ‘˜cracks’.

Using sensors that are almost invisible to the eye, such a wearable detector should be able to monitor heart rate and determine the throat movements of speech-impaired people to allow them to speak.

The wonders of graphene

The newly discovered (nano)material is composed of a single layer of carbon atoms joined in a hexagonal pattern and it’s now used in research labs to develop displays, batteries and even bionic implants. It’s flexible, transparent, stronger than steel and more conductive to electrical charge than silicon.

Samsung and its Advanced Institute of Technology have developed a way to produce large amounts of graphene that have high electrical conductivity as well.

Plastic Logic and the University of Cambridge have recently created a flexible version of graphene-based display looking similarly to e-readers displays. The researchers are currently working to build a full colour, OLED-based, flexible graphene display.

Analogue Input

Today’s wearable devices battery can only last one day or in the best-case scenario six months, depending on its integrated features. Intel is looking to solve this issue by developing a smaller version of its Edison board for Internet of Things and wearable devices. The technology is based on a very low power, analogue part that’s always activated to listen and sense so that it will put the chip to sleep when found in an idle state.

Intel thus offer a different take on extending life battery without forcing you to choose between analogue and digital devices. Further details about this technology will be announced in the latter half of this year.