In the very recent past, using a computer meant sitting at a desk or toting around your laptop bag. These days, thanks to smartphones and an avalanche of tiny portable computing products, you can crunch bits and bytes anytime, anywhere. And soon, you may not even need to carry your gadgets -- they'll be integrated into your hat, your clothes and your eyeglasses. The age of wearable technology may finally be upon us.
For decades, engineers and dreamers have been conjuring ideas for wearable computers. But microprocessor speeds weren't always up to snuff and power concerns were paramount, because without power to bring them to life, electronics are just dead metal.
Now, with better batteries, ever-increasing processor speed, ceaseless Internet connectivity and clever software programming, wearable technology's potential seems not only realistic but unlimited.
Consider the possibilities. Your yoga outfit can monitor your form and provide instant feedback. Watches and jewelry can monitor you for a whole range of health conditions, from cardiovascular disease to bipolar disorder, and communicate alerts to you and your physician. Sensor- and camera-laden firefighting jackets track the vital signs and locations of squad members to keep them safe and to maximize tactical effectiveness.
Teenagers can keep tabs on their messages with Bluetooth rings. Don a pair of Google Glasses (complete with prescription lenses) and you can execute all sorts of smartphone-like activities. Even your dog can get in on the wearable computing trend. Attach a smart collar to Fido and you'll know if she's harassing squirrels all day or down in the doggie dumps.
Market pundits see money in wearable tech. Deloitte's technology prediction report forecast that companies would sell about 10 million units of these products in 2014, with smart glasses leading the way at sales of nearly $3 billion. Smartwatches and fitness bands should also continue to sell by the millions [source: Deloitte].
So wearables aren't just fringe technology anymore. Startups and established corporations alike are all interested in the revenue that could result from wearable products. Keep reading to see how you'll soon be donning your devices.