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Tech Trends for 2016: Advanced wearable technology

Wearable devices aren’t a new trend but innovations such as ‘wearables for your brain’ and chargeable clothing will be big news in 2016...

Wearable technology featured in our Tech Trends for 2014 index but in 2016 this tech will evolve from ‘smart’ glasses, watches and Fitbits, to powerful threads hidden in our clothing and even ‘wearables for your brain’.

To date, wearable devices have been viewed as a way to improve functionality and efficiency but the coming months will see more of a focus on the creative ways in which wearable technology can be implemented. Lucie Greene, worldwide director of JWT Innovation, explains:

“Already Google and Levi’s are collaborating on connected fabrication, stepping beyond bracelets and bands to wrap technical functions into everyday clothing. Increasingly technology and science will be used to push the boundaries of creativity in clothing, and technical functions will be integrated into our tailoring and normal accessories.”

As Green indicates, one area in which scientists are specifically “pushing the boundaries of creativity” in wearable tech is clothing. Last month, it was announced that industrial design researchers at Brunel University London had created ‘smart thread’ – capable of storing and supplying up to 2V power – which enables everyday items of clothing to be turned into power sources for smartphones, tablets and other personal devices.

But clothing’s not all. Tech start-up Emotiv has gone one step further with the recent launch of its brainwave-reading helmet. Described as ‘wearables for your brain’, Emotiv has invented wireless headsets with ‘detection algorithms’ which can interpret signals as mental commands, facial expressions, or brain performance metrics.

Market research group Mintel has even indicated that wearable tech for the beauty industry could soon become a reality with wearables set to “infiltrate the UK’s make-up bags”. US researchers have already developed a wearable device for the skin that can monitor skin hydration levels.

From helmets, smart thread and skin-life wearable foundation, the possibilities for wearable tech in 2016 would appear to know no limits.

How it works

Wearable technology refers to advanced electronic devices that can be monitored remotely via the internet or the cloud; therefore enabling us to find out new information and data about ourselves.

Using the example of Emotiv’s headset, you could use this wearable technology to collate data on your stress levels and when you’re most engaged which would then in turn help you to improve your performance at work or in carrying out everyday tasks.

Aaron Miller, European CTO of Avaya, believes the opportunities for wearable technology will finally be realised in 2016:

“If you think what we have now is a healthy appetite for wearables, 2016 is going to leave you flabbergasted.

“Over the next four years, sales of wearables worldwide are predicted to reach a staggering $175m, up almost eight-fold from last year. Growth will stem from a number of factors: firstly, we’ll see the market expand to embrace a whole new breed of wearable companies – think Tissot’s smart watches and Nike with its Accelerate shoes. Household, fashion and sports brands will join heavyweights such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, and specialists such as Fitbit and Jawbone, to offer their own IoT-enabled technologies – making wearables more accessible to the masses.

“But this level of demand can’t come from consumers alone. A huge portion of the anticipated growth will be from the business world. In the most obvious sense, the wearables explosion will make the most important device we carry – our smartphone – even more significant. The smartphone will expand its role as our personal hub, acting as a proxy for our wearable tech and the primary way that we’ll consume the information our wearable tech is providing.”


(will not be published)