Wearable tech is forecast to become a $75 billion industry by 2025. Arguably, the largest and most suitably-positioned sector to cash in on the wearable tech trend is healthcare and wellness. From fitness tracking to mindfulness and medicine; the capacity for tracking metrics and translating them into goal-oriented data through wearable devices is practically infinite.
Wearable tech market size by product 2016 – 2027: (GRR)
The obvious market for technological wearables like the Jawbone Up and Apple Watch are seeing a growing and strong force from the competition in alternative markets. From smart-yoga mats to digital stress balls – it’s difficult to think of health and fitness without some sort of technology wrapped around it.
When it comes to the longest-standing, traditional wearable wellness unit; eyeglasses come up trumps. The lenses held between frames of metal or plastic have helped billions of people overcome their vision impairments. According to statistics, there are over 2.2 billion people with some form of blindness or vision impairment, with roughly 64% of adults with vision impairment wear glasses. It was only a matter of time before frames got smarter. Some of the leading players in the game have already demonstrated how smart technology can join forces with prescription lenses.
Safilo, the made in Italy brand has been making frames since 1934. They’re the third largest of their kind in the world and have built a reputation for their special flexible material known as celluloid. They realized that the only way to maintain their position in the market was to try their hand at tech.
Safilo has now developed an eyewear device that essentially tracks brainwaves and sends the results to an app – accessible from any smart device. The objective is to assess the state of the user’s mind and help to promote mindfulness through meditation.
These high-tech smart glasses have been developed to assess and improve the wearers’ mood. The glasses have five sensors that are embedded into the earpieces on the arm and the bridge of the nose. These unnoticed sensors work by discretely measuring brainwaves and sending the result to the app. The only person who knows that the sensors are there – is the one who is wearing the glasses. The results inform the user of when they are feeling stressed, worried, or emotional – even if they don’t actually recognize it themselves. This prompts the wearer to take time out to meditate and relax.
Several studies have found direct relationships between keeping active and one’s ability to wind down and tap into their inner peace and practice mindfulness. The largest vision healthcare company in the world – VSP Global – came up with their latest innovation, Level. Level is a wearable fitness tracker that resembles nothing like a fitness tracker one might expect to see. Rather, Level looks like a normal, but stylish pair of eyeglasses.
The creative team of designers and biomedical engineers have had free reign to create Level as the next generation of sensor-enabled eyewear. It’s the first wearable from a healthcare company to seamlessly integrate health-tracking technology in the temple of an optical frame.
The frames come in three unisex styles and are manufactured by the eyewear company, Marchon, in Italy. The product is still in prototype but already utilizes sensors including a magnetometer, accelerometer, and a gyroscope to track steps, calories burned, and activity time. The data is recorded on an app to which the frames sync wirelessly via Bluetooth – which also has location capabilities, should you misplace your frames.
The app features a redesigned interface and unparalleled functionality. As users reach their goals, they’re awarded points for their efforts. Through Level’s partnership with the VSP Global Eyes of Hope program, once a user accrues a certain number of points, they trigger a comprehensive eye exam and pair of glasses to someone in need.
Level is a wellness tracker that encourages movement and activity. Push notifications received in the app encourages users to earn more points, focus on their activity level and find time for their peace of mind.
Mindfulness and staying focused go hand in hand. In an age of constant distractions, difficulty staying focused has been reported across all age groups. Auctify claims they have the solution with its smart wearable technology in the form of eyeglasses. The smart glasses use artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor what the user is looking at and nudge them when they lose concentration and focus.
The premise is simple, the glasses are called Specs and they rely on the built-in camera inside the frame – of which uses machine learning to identify what the wearer is looking at for any given period of time. Whether that’s a laptop, television, book or person. It records the data and sends it straight to an accessible and connected app where users can then take action.
The powerful and insightful capacity of machine learning is largely under-appreciated across many use cases. This startup uses the technology, in a wearable form to offer its users a number of options to combat procrastination.
One way is to use the data as a record of a breakdown of how the day was spent. The app will display colourful charts recording how many minutes and hours were either wasted or put to good and productive use. If a user wishes to be more proactive with wearable tech and its app, they can set a “focus session” for specific times they wish to concentrate on particular activities.
The technology goes further for those who are more serious about knuckling down and can even alert the wearer when they’re looking at the wrong thing. It does so by using visual and audio cues, like light flashes in the corner of vision or even a sound that is delivered through the glasses’ built-in speakers.
It looks as though wearable, discrete tech is making its way to the faces of those who are already used to wearing eyeglasses frames. The only difference is that the additional digital elements and recorded data make for an even better experience. With “mindfulness” where it ought to be – high on the agenda – we should expect to see an increase in collaboration between software developers and medical practitioners in the next generation of smart technology.