In the rich canon of science fiction imagined by Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick to William Gibson and beyond, people have long been fascinated with a future where humans and machines become one. Whether through high-tech enhancements that restore our sight or implants that increase our ability to process and store information, these forward looking visions see the distinction between technology and biology blending into a hybrid state of being where co-evolution is the next phase in human history. And while we might not be quite ready to fully embrace this new era, we’re probably not as far off as we may think.
Humankind has always been driven by a desire to augment our natural abilities in order better adapt to and control our environments. Consider the development of primitive tools as an early step in a long road of technical progress that has taken us from rough animal hides to emotion-reflecting sweaters, Walkmans to iPhones and monocles to Google Glass.
As we survey the current landscape, we’re left to marvel at the increased processing speed of chips, capacity of batteries and precision of sensor technologies that have made current devices smaller, faster and more feature heavy, nearly replacing entire electronic categories in the process. What’s more, these innovations are multiplying the rate at which breakthroughs can happen. According to researchers at business intelligence company Berg Insight, sales of smart glasses, smart watches and wearable fitness trackers reached 8.3 million units worldwide in 2012, up from 3.1 million devices in the previous year, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 50.6 percent, and total shipments of wearable technology devices are expected to reach 64.0 million units in 2017.
Alongside this shift, there has been the natural progression in form factors as these same devices move from our desks and pockets to being subtly displayed on our bodies and one day even merged with them. We are at an exciting stage of wearable tech, a growing class of devices that drives users to rethink our relationship with our technologies. It opens the door for new forms of computing that impact the way we live, work and socialize.
PSFK’s Future of Wearable Tech report, and the accompanying in-depth editorial series on IQ by Intel, examines 10 trends related to wearable technologies that sit under three larger themes — Connected Intimacy, Tailored Ecosystem and Co-Evolved Possibilities — with the goal of helping people understand the basic features, form and functions of these devices and what they might replace. In our Connected Intimacy theme, we explore how wearables are revolutionizing the way we communicate information about ourselves and maintain relationships over any distance. With the Tailored Ecosystem theme, we look at how these devices are personalizing the world around us and adapting to our ever-changing needs. While the Co-Evolved Possibilities theme considers the potential and promise of a closer union between humans and technology and the resulting impact on our natural abilities.
To support this, PSFK has described each of the themes and trends, along with three best-in-class examples that show how these ideas are manifesting within the marketplace and provided relevant stats that convey the potential for growth. Additionally, each trend page includes a list of experts who write about the larger significance of these ideas.
As we plan for the future, PSFK Labs in collaboration with iQ by intel is excited to contribute our point of view to this ongoing conversation in the form of an editorial series, which will launch on January 13th and run for 10 weeks.
The Future of Wearable Tech series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs explores the evolving form and function of our connected devices. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we’ll look at the latest designs and features, examine their impact on consumer lifestyles and get reactions from Intel experts. Download a free copy of the accompanying report here.