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 that track sleep, movement, location, social media. There are even new classes of devices that are seamlessly integrated with a user’s everyday life and movements. Google's “Project Glass” was one of the earliest examples, and enabled a user to see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them. Smart watches are becoming commonplace, allowing users to check emails and perform other productive tasks through a tiny interface. A rapidly growing category of wearable technology takes advantage of the burgeoning interest in the “quantified self.” The Jawbone UP and Fitbit bracelets are two examples that track how you eat, sleep, and move. Empowered by these insights, many individuals now rely on these technologies to improve their lifestyle and health. Today’s wearables not only track where a person goes, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished.

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

  • With the Apple watch entering the scene, I can see that the 'clickers' that are often used in classes will be replaced. In addition, wearable technologies (WT) are becoming part of the textbook costs...maybe books will be replaced with WT...like pencils are replaced by mobile devices, libraries are replaced by the Internet, and unfortunately, in my opinion, databases are replaced by Google. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Sep 29, 2015 very good points - helga helga Oct 6, 2015 What do you mean, Google? Everyone knows that Facebook IS the internet. :-). - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015
  • Wearable technology, in spite of its advances and pullbacks over the past couple of years, has already proven (e.g., in the ways that some were incorporating Google Glass into classroom and other learning environments) that it can be a very useful tool in the teaching-training-learning process. The examples we're seeing in a variety of settings and in the articles included as resources on this 2016 Horizon Report > Higher Education edition wiki suggest that wearable technology could extend the reach of what we're doing in our onsite and online learning spaces and provide opportunities for learners to even more creatively interact with their learning facilitators, their learning environments (e.g., field work), and each other.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 14, 2015
  • See my #2 for why. But the phone will turn into a portable data center. Smart glasses or broaches will record everything, every lecture, every conversation. Lecture capture will disappear as a stand alone service. All lectures will be captured. All tutoring. All study sessions. Everything. Academic honest will suffer a system shock. It will become almost impossible to detect cheating as the number and variety of smart devices proliferates. This will create a Cold War-like arms race to prevent cheating with technology. But ultimately, pedagogy will be forced to shift to new models, accepting of students with access to real time, ubiquitous information access and capture.- david.thomas david.thomas Oct 16, 2015 - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015
  • A new range of wearables are coming that record our physical activity but with a difference – they’re assessing our emotional state. Think about this in the context of education and learning. Your wearable in a sense can tell you when you are most fit to take an exam or help you calm down to prepare for one. This information can be easily streamed to a virtual assistant that can help students monitor, understand and yes with some coaching excel at getting to a balanced state of mind. - Maya Maya Oct 18, 2015Maya Georgieva
  • I have been working with both Google Glass and the Apple Watch this year. Glass has been interesting, if somewhat unreliable, and the lack of compatibility with both our wifi and Apple devices has been frustrating, as has its tendency to turn on and off at random, lose connectivity for no apparent reason, along overheating very quickly. However, we have had some interesting results with peer assessment of projects, and the wow factor seems to help gloss over the device's shortcomings. Apple Watch, on the other hand, whilst not a game changer, has wormed its way into my life as only an Apple device can. Reliability has been top notch, and it is probably the only piece of kit I own that people are genuinely impressed with and want to try for themselves. As for educational possibilities, they are a little limited, not least because of the cost, and the need to be tethered to an iPhone, and this year I will be looking into the possibilities of using the watch to cheat in exams. All in the name of science, of course! Thankfully my exam days are long behind me... (- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 20, 2015) If we look down the road a little, we'll likely see Apple converge the watch with a version of AR glasses of their own. The power in this configuration would be the ability to truly utilize gestures for the primary means of interface. One could envision a situation where the watch served primarily as a CPU wirelessly connected to the glasses which in turn would function as display for output as well as a means to monitor the environment. THEN the watch makes real sense and provides a viable justification into abandoning hand held mobile devices. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015
  • Currently, wearables are related to glasses and watcheshttp://www.scoop.it/t/internet-of-things-by-anastasios-economides However, other devices and systems should also be explored in the educational field and practice. - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 21, 2015
  • Wearables technology, as it exists for the most part, generally seems to congregate either into activity and fitness related devices, smart watches (though Apple seems to be in a class of its own), ear buds and headphones, VR and AR headsets, or the host of niche devices for fashion, pets, etc. While there is a clear application of wearable technology for collecting biometric data and monitoring performance, the separated functionality of most of these devices limits their boarder application. The current exception at the present would possibly be from the VR (and upcoming AR headsets). However, as with the case with the emergence of the smartphone, which came into its own from the convergence of the cell phone, digital SLR and video cameras, and computer, we should see an incredible emergence of something amazing once the separately functioning elements begin to come together to form a unified solution. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015
  • Wearables have the potential to become an important tool for research projects, not just medical ones, but any project that requires an unobtrusive and efficient way to record data. There are several education research projects that are being developed using Apple's ResearchKit for data gathering devices.- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 26, 2015

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

  • We continue to hear and read a lot about consumer and health uses for wearable technology, and I think we also need, in our overall introduction to the topic, to document some of the learning uses to which wearable technology has already been applied.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 14, 2015
  • Look at what Apple is doing with the iPhone, not the Apple Watch. The iPhone is morphing into a portable data center. The watch is one, of what will become many, devices that talk to the iPhone. I have a smart watch and it has single-handedly reduced my cell phone fidgeting by a huge percent. My watch tells me the time, it tells me what is going on with my phone in terms of emails and alerts and, best of all, it's in a very comfortable form factor. Put it together and my phone can stay in my pocket or desk. This is just the beginning. Better faster and cheaper Google Glass technology will record, in real time, everything you see and hear. More specialized body sensors will track blood sugar or brain activity. Smart accessors will collect data from broadcast data ports--everything from restaurant menus to text books. The phone will loose its input screen, because more optimized virtual writing and typing technologies will replace the glass screen (imagine a button you wear that projects a keyboard on any surface, from your hand to your desk.

    Why does this matter? Your phone will be a portable data center, GPS and media streaming device. It will store terabytes of local data and will synch with cloud constantly. As a result, wearables will look less like crazy cyborg attachments and more like regular jewelry and clothing. Leveraging the power of the phone, clothes can alert to wear and tear, or change venting to suit conditions. Jewelry will update depending on the light or mood. The key point here, technology will melt away. It will look like shoes and shirts and glasses. The phone will never come out of its special pocket. - david.thomas david.thomas Oct 16, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015

  • Today, wearables are seen most often as a monitoring and collecting data devices, they may or may not give some feedback. In addition, most feedback is still limited to each device capabilities. Feedback is perceived mostly helpful in terms of physical parameters (e.g. miles, minutes) In the future wearables and virtual assistants will likely work jointly to help students achieve their best performance. Questions emerge in terms of how do we share, keep, protect and integrate this data with the rest of the learning platforms, or are the education tech as we know it today going to be gone by the time wearables reach maturity. Who is doing the human subject research today that will influence the tech and policy tomorrow. - Maya Maya Oct 18, 2015Maya Georgieva
  • Wearables will work within fabric, Google's project Jacquard is one example but there are others. This means that our clothes will become interfaces and displays that will project information. - Maya Maya Oct 18, 2015Maya Georgieva

  • I think this topic and Quantified Self should be merged into one topic as they address fundamentally the same issues. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 19, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015 Very strongly support this idea.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 23, 2015 I agree wearables are part of the toolset for the quantified self - DaveP DaveP Oct 24, 2015 Agree with this as there's potential for personal data in Learning Analytics - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 25, 2015
  • Both my IPhone and Apple Watch have also become payment devices, allowing me to buy things without either cash or a card. This may or may not be a game changer long term, but short term it sure is useful if, as I did today, I leave my wallet at the office. My main concern is, as ever, what Apple will choose to do with the data they now collect all day every day. One can only hope they use it for good. (- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 20, 2015)
  • We should also pay attention to Security and Privacy issues. Glasses that record everything will record private information of third persons. How do we protect the privacy of these persons? How do we protec the wearables from attackers (viruses, worms, etc.)? - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 21, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015
  • It would be interesting to examine the aspect of this category which address emerging alternative UI solutions, such as gestures & motion recognition, perpetual computing sensing, voice & speech, EEG headsets & brain-computer connects, etc. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015
  • There is significant overlap between wearable technology and VR; and between these technologies and the applications areas of quantified self, social networks (through proximity sensing of devices), alternative UI, and affective computing. Fundamentally, the latter applications are more interesting than the technology -- which is an enabler, and not yet mature / widespread in and of itself. - escience escience Oct 25, 2015
  • Also note that mobile phones are taking on some of the characteristics of wearables, and vice versa. Phones should be considered -- semi-wearables. For example -- mobile phones now routinely have sensors sufficient to function as basic fitness trackers -- see e.g. google Fit. This low-end capability is nearing ubiquity in a way that capabilities through dedicated trackers (such as heartrate) are not. - escience escience Oct 25, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Currently, this topic seems to have a stronger influence in the area that relates to body data. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Sep 29, 2015
  • As mentioned in my response to the first question in this section: it extends the reach of the teaching-training-learning process. One example: if a tool along the lines of Google Glass were used to initiate a Google Hangout, instructors could be live-streaming learning opportunities and interacting with off-site learners in ways that blend onsite and online experiences as we're already doing with Hangouts using desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile devices.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 14, 2015
  • My argument here is that it will change everything. Each student will be a walking data center bristling with sensors and capture devices. Going to school will be a real time information accumulation event. It's actually already happening. We just pretend like we, the institutions, are in control.- david.thomas david.thomas Oct 16, 2015 - helga helga Oct 23, 2015
  • Live streaming of medical procedures using Glass are already happening. Of course, one has to question the ethics dangers, and validity of people learning surgical techniques via the internet, but the idea of a relatively unskilled person wearing Glass being able to do life saving surgery in a remote area under the direction of a skilled surgeon hundreds of miles away watching a video feed is exciting. Until Glass goes down. Then it becomes terrifying. (- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 20, 2015)
  • Every year brings us closer to not open book examinations, but open device examinations, where students are able to use their personal devices to access information on the Internet during an examination. Exams become less about information retention, and more about information interpretation, which is a much more interesting way of assessing learning. It is no longer about whether they can remember something, and more about whether they actually understand it. This could change everything about what we do and why we do it in HE. (- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 20, 2015)
  • Major impact. Wearables will be combined with Internet of Things. However, there is a lot of work to be done. - Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Anastasios.A.ECONOMIDES Oct 21, 2015
  • For the short-term, there is immediate application in fitness and health, and the promise of utilization of display, gesture, and gloves in relation to architecture, engineering, arts, design, and the sciences - such as molecular biology and particle physics. What's more, though, these devices could be a profound benefit for psychological application in helping to address various aspects of disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, and more, by allowing valuable feedback options as well and the ability to engage in treatment involving virtualized settings. - Dougdar Dougdar Oct 22, 2015
  • Two years ago, the impact seemed potentially dramatic. Now that Google Glass is Google Gone, the creepiness factor has lingered like a bad odor. Do people want to be observed and recorded that easily? Have we reached a limit on how much tracking of our behavior we can tolerate? Or is it a matter of price-point? A $200 fitness tracker is delightful, whereas a $1,500 wearable computer is beyond luxury. - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 25, 2015

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

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