Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Wearable Technology Works

The Quantified Self
Google Glass is well-publicized, and its position in the spotlight has drawn both praise and derision.
Google Glass is well-publicized, and its position in the spotlight has drawn both praise and derision.

The end goal of wearable technology is to make tasks easier, more efficient, more effective or simply more fun. All of these devices are part of the so-called quantified-self movement, which is about blending each aspect of your life with technology that continuously gathers and crunches data.

Whether you're consciously seeking to collect data regarding every moment of your life or you just want to track the metrics of your morning jog, wearable technology is sprawling into all sorts of products. Ultimately, they're all part of the Internet of things, an all-encompassing phrase that describes interconnected digital gadgets that log, report and control data from your body and across the planet.

Right now, smartphones are a linchpin in this system. Smartphones paired with the right app or hardware become a hub for hundreds of activities and purposes. Because they can send data to and from the Internet, they provide a way to integrate connectivity options into all sorts of wearable goods.

Google Glass is a prime example of the current evolution of wearable technology. Glass is a computer in the form of a pair of eyeglasses and includes an optical head-mounted display. In short, Glass does a lot of the things that your smartphone can do. For instance, you can use a voice command to display a map and then use your finger to swipe through driving directions. The Glass does have WiFi capability, but when you're out of range, you can switch to Bluetooth, which connects to the Internet via your smartphone.

It has GPS, a camera, a microphone and 16GB of internal flash memory (12 user accessible). You can conduct video calls, send pictures and video clips, check your e-mail, post to Facebook and Twitter and a whole lot more.

Glass, though, is just one well-publicized incarnation of wearable technology -- and it's still in testing. On the next page you'll delve into one of the biggest markets for body-mounted tech.