Everything you need to know about the rise of wearable technology, and what’s to come for 2020!
Wearables have become more and more popular over the years, but just when did the trend start and where will it stop? We seem to have come a long way from carrying pocket watches and walkmans, but how much of the wearable technology revolution do you remember? We’ll be looking at what kickstarted wearable technology, how wearables progressed throughout the years, and what new innovations the year has in store for us!
Portable music players
The walkman was the first-ever portable music player; we’re excluding radios and stereo players as carrying it on your shoulder doesn’t make it a wearable. The Walkman, made in 1978, could be stored in your pocket or clipped onto your belt and played cassettes through wired headphones. After cassettes became obsolete, the Walkman changed to portable CD players, until the release of the MP3 player. Once the MP3 player was released, demand for physical music copies died and the rise of the iPod came about.
The GoPro was launched back in 2004 by Nick Woodman after a surfing trip to Australia. Woodman wanted to snap pictures while he was surfing but found manoeuvring his surfboard while trying to operate a camera too tricky, thus sparking the idea of the GoPro. He created a wrist strap that would hold a waterproof camera securely onto the wrist. The strap would easily flick the camera up for capturing pictures. This first-ever GoPro used 35mm film, only took pictures, and cost a mere $20. Compared to the GoPro’s of today, Woodman’s invention has come a long way from disposable cameras and wrist straps, with some of the newest GoPro’s retailing at $499.99!
Technically, the first smartwatch was invented back in the 90s. The Timex Datalink was co-developed by Microsoft and was a first of its kind. The watch had the ability to download the information from a computer, log dates, and set alerts. Compared to the smartwatches that are on the market now, the Timex Datalink is laughable. Big brands like Apple, Samsung, and Fitbit have now taken over the smartwatch scene with extremely impressive technology. Now, smartwatches can monitor heart rate, track exercise, make and receive calls and texts, search the internet, and even detect and alert the authorities if you’ve had an accident.
These little devices were produced in the early 2000s and became a regular part of most businessmen and women. Brands like Nokia and Samsung came out with hands-free headsets so that users could answer calls without using their hands. The idea was that people could talk on the phone on-the-go while completing other tasks, like driving. Before hands-free headsets or mobile phones, users had to use headband-style sets that stuck to their phone using velcro-like material. Since the early 2000s headsets for the use of taking phone calls have lost their use, as we now use wired or wireless earbuds or the hands-free systems that are now installed in most new cars. Although these nostalgic beauties are no longer used anymore, we’ll thank them for essentially paving the way for wireless earphones!
Earphones and headphones
Earphones and headphones have been around for a long time, with the first headphones being invented in the 1910s. Over the years the sound quality of these products have been refined, and the styles repeatedly changed. Earphones and earbuds were invented, then more styles were brought out such as the in-ear buds that come equipped with silicone tips, the earbuds that wrap over the top of your ear, and now the wireless earbuds. You can now purchase headphones and earphones that are completely wireless and work using Bluetooth, similar to the hands-free headsets we used to have in the early 2000s.
Smart glasses are the latest wearable to hit the market and have yet to work their way into mainstream life. The concept has been around for years, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that companies began creating the futuristic wearable. A small selection of brands have created their own versions of smart glasses, with Google creating the Google Glass and Epson creating the Moverio BT-300FPV. Smart glasses use AR and can do lots of cool things. Some smart glasses can track fitness, fly and control drones, and be used for mirroring displays. They also perform the functions of standard wearables like making and receiving calls, using AI, and playing music.