Only two years ago, Google Glass, one of the first augmented reality headsets, was launched to a collective shrug. Flash forward to the present and the wearable technology market is exploding. Smart watches and virtual reality headsets are now on store shelves. Smart clothes and gesture based interfaces through gloves are finding their way into the market. This technology has the potential to change how we interact with data, devices , the physical world and even each other.
Wearable fitness trackers are already commonplace. Just about anyone looking to slim down has a wristband that tracks how many steps they took or calories they burned. Your Fitbit can track your progress towards your fitness goals.
Augmented reality, a live view of reality with information superimposed via computer or other device, is already integrated into several mobile apps. Need to know which restaurant gets better reviews? Hold your phone up, pointed down the street, and Yelp!’s monocle will superimpose reviews right over the live image of the restaurants. Augmented reality enabled apps and devices can identify stars in the night sky, give you directions projected right on your windshield, or bring up personal information about the person you are speaking with.
By 2019 it is predicted that a full 33.6% of the adult population in the US will utilize some form of wearable technology. Virtual reality headsets were among the hottest items at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Smart watches that interact with already-smart phones, alerting the wearer to incoming messages or calls, were hot this holiday season.
Wearables are also penetrating the enterprise market, with uses like industrial manufacturing, inspection and quality assurance, logistics, and installation and configuration. Today’s workers are leveraging health tracking devices, smart watches, smart apparel, augmented and virtual reality headsets and biometric sensors.
Wearable technology also has many potential applications in the meetings industry.
Smart watches are perfect for real time notification of meetings and seminars. The can be used to exchange business card information. They can send the wearer an alert when someone they want to speak with is nearby. Instead of scanning a user’s badge, information garnered from a smart watch can be automatically sent into a leads file for later follow up by sales staff.
For speakers, smart glasses can eliminate the need for teleprompters or printed copies of speaches. Questions from audience members can be projected right in front of the speaker’s eyes.
Gesture-based wearable tech that translates a user’s gestures into action can be used by presenters to advance presentations or participants to take notes without a pen or paper.
Bluetooth and Apple’s iBeacon technologies can work with location aware devices like smart watches to help attendees navigate trade show floors. Smart glasses can also help by projecting a map of the show floor in their line of sight.
It’s been argued that the use of wearable tech can make us less dependent on our phones and free us up to interact and network with fellow attendees. Instead of fumbling around for your phone, a quick glance at a smart watch can tell you if it’s a work or home emergency or something you can deal with later.
Wearable technology is here to stay and the number of devices and use cases will only increase. This technology is already being used by participants. Integrating the technology into the show by organizers can make mundane tasks like navigating a show floor as easy as looking up.
For more on this topic, Mashable has a whole section dedicated to the latest gear. Cnet also has a section with reviews and news on wearable gear.
Meetings and Conventions focuses on the idea, noted above, that wearable technology will increase face to face communication, ironically making us less dependent on technology. Connect Your Meetings discusses specific products and also speculates on future uses.
Featured Image credit: Robert Scoble ©2011 under a Creative Commons License
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