Smart wearables, also referred to the wearable devices, is the general term for the application of wearable technologies to the intelligent design of daily wear and the development of devices that can be worn including glass, a glove, a watch, necklaces, bracelets, clothing and shoes, etc. In recent years, smart wearable devices have exerted a great influence on our lives and perception.
This article introduces a comprehensive concept of what is smart wearables as well as the application of Internet of Things technology in wearable devices.
1. What are Smart Wearables?
Smart wearables, also referred to the wearable devices, is the general term for the application of wearable technologies to the intelligent design of daily wear and the development of devices that can be worn including a glass, a glove, a watch, necklaces, bracelets, clothing and shoes, etc. In recent years, smart wearable devices have brought a great change to our lives as well as perceptions.
More common smart wear application scenarios include the following:
- smart bracelets that can achieve wireless access to the Internet for infotainment or mobile office;
- Sports data is visible in real-time and you can learn about the heart rate whether you are running, cycling or walking at any time.
- Children watches, children watches can be connected to the Internet in real-time to achieve weather warnings, sos call for help, remote listening and other functions to make calls to send and receive text messages, ultra-precise GPS positioning and other functions.
- Smart shoes: it can realize real-time pedometer, electronic fence warning as well as health tracking management.
- Smart helmet: it can solve the issues in the process of safe production site operation, realize perception, service, analysis, command and supervision.
- Smart glasses: wireless access through communication networks to achieve video calls and other functions.
- Intelligent blood pressure meter: measurement data is uploaded to the cloud, which is convenient for users and medical personnel to detect data.
2. How do smart wearable devices Work?
Wearable Internet of Things (WIoT, hereinafter referred to as WIoT), which belongs to a specific field of macro IoT presentation, is a network composed of a lot of smart devices working around the human body with the typical features of low radiation, low power consumption, MESH networking, good portability and mobility, etc.
It is generally categorized into 3 types of devices: central control, basic control and plug-in control.
Central Control Device
These types of devices are equivalent to the WIoT’s gateway, which can both aggregate and process WIoT’s data, and also communicate and interact with the Internet, serving as a bridge between WIoT and the Internet. Such devices must have mobile communication capabilities (according to the current technologies, this is required to support 4G or 5G). The most common example is the smartphone. However, devices like smartwatches (SIM card supported) and VR or AR headsets may also replace the role of cell phones on some specific occasions.
The central control type devices are the key device for WIoT to connect to the Internet but it is not a necessary device for WIoTf or the reason that WIoT can fully realize its application value with the help of localized self-organizing network functions.
Basic Control Device
This is the most crucial and practical part of the WIoT, which is mainly composed of various wearable devices, including but not limited to smart clothing, smart gloves, smart shoes and smart hats. Among them, smart clothing is the main category. The typical features of basic type devices lie in the Bluetooth communication function. The devices can be networked with each other through Bluetooth MESH, which controls the system to make it small in size, low cost, low power consumption, low radiation, etc.
Basic type devices are fundamental to the existence of WIoT and are indispensable in the entire system.
The main function of plug-in devices is to enhance or optimize the functionality of WIoT. The function of this kind of device can be achieved by connecting to a central control device or a basic control device. For example, by installing a light-emitting plug-in on the garment, the original smart garment can be equipped with smart light-emitting functions (the plug-in can be connected to the WIoT control system, which can directly control the light-emitting parameters with the original controller and can interact with other basic devices. That means that the original WIoT system has reserved such an expansion interface).
The plug-in type device is primarily designed to satisfy the needs of individual users and is an optional device for WIoT.
3. What are the Top Wearable Technologies Today?
Wireless transformation technology for wearable devices
At present, Wi-Fi is the most widely utilized technology in smart devices and has a bright future for growth. The protocol used for Wi-Fi has evolved to 802.11ac, with theoretical transmission speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Bluetooth is also a relatively commonly-seen wireless connectivity technology, supporting connection over short distances at a data rate of 1 Mbps. The greatest benefit of Bluetooth technology is that it takes up little room and can be merged into a variety of wearable devices at will without putting pressure on the designs of the exterior and structure. Due to its low cost and efficient transmission capability, it has transformed the market demand for wearable items from niche to mainstream as well as from fashionable to practical.
What’s more, there is a non-contact identification NFC technology in wireless transmission, i.e. Near Field Communication (NFC), which is easier to operate and more efficient in pairing compared to Bluetooth. With the rapid development of cloud computing, The data generated from areas like people’s daily life and social entertainment will be gathered through the medium, and NFC will become a substitute for bus cards, bank cards, access cards and other induction cards. Apart from cell phones, a lot of smart wearables are now competing to integrate the NFC technology since it has two attractive practical functions – one is mobile payment, and the other is data sharing at a close distance.
The sensor technology of wearable devices
The data gathered from the wearable devices are not only from the touch screens or other input devices but also mobilizes the functions of automatic gathering and detecting to gather the data of users’ activities and the data produced by changes in the outer environment. Therefore, the key part is sensing technology.
Take the commonly-seen sports bracelets as an instance. Initially, the bracelets only utilize acceleration sensors to count steps. However, with a variety of sensors continuing implanting, it is also rich in functionality.
For instance, GPS technologies can be utilized to record the user’s geographic positions, and sports trajectories through satellite locating; Nowadays, one of the greatest selling points of sports bracelets lies in the health monitoring function. That means the application of optical heart rate sensors is becoming widely applied. The sensors can utilize LED lights to shine on the skin. Then the fluctuations caused by blood absorption of light are useful to determine the user’s heart rate levels to achieve a more accurate data analysis. However, the bioelectric impedance sensor is more detailed and comprehensive, which can achieve blood flow monitoring through its biological impedance, and then translate into specific heart rates, respiration rate, and skin response index. The skin electrical response sensor is a well-developed biosensor, usually loaded on some devices that need to monitor sweats. As human skin is a conductor, the electrodermal response sensor starts to measure when sweating starts, which allows the detection of movement in terms of other parameters.
The 7 interaction technologies of wearable devices
1. Bone conduction interaction technology
The bone conduction interaction technology is primarily a type of interaction technology for sound, which transfers the sound signal straightly to the inner ears without passing through the outer and middle ears by the vibration of the skull. Bone conduction vibration is unable to straightly stimulate the auditory nerve. However, it provokes the vibration of the basilar membrane in the cochlea, which has the same results as air conduction sound while the only difference lies in the lower sensitivity.
2. Eye-Tracking Interaction Technology
Eye tracking is also referred to the sight tracking and eye movement measurement. Eye-tracking technology is a scientifically-applied technology that usually consists of three types of tracking methods: tracking based on feature changes in the eye and eye periphery, tracking based on iris angle changes as well as the active projection of light beams such as infrared light to the iris to extract features. Eye tracking technology is a vital technique in contemporary psychological research and has been around for quite some time with relatively wide applications in experimental psychology, applied psychology, engineering psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and other fields. With the rise of wearable devices, smart glasses in particular, technology has started to be used in human-computer interaction along with wearable devices.
3. AR or MR interaction technology
Augmented reality (AR) is a combination of virtual and real environments by offering informative and entertaining overlays on top of the real environment such as superimposing graphics, text, sound and hypertext on top of the real environment to offer additional information, thus enabling to achieve auxiliary functions such as reminders, hints, markers, annotations and explanations. Mixed reality (MR), on the other hand, is the product of the computer processing of real-world scenes.
AR or MR technology can provide a new way of application for wearable equipment, mainly by constructing a new virtual screen between the human and machine and realizing the interaction of scenes with the help of the virtual screen. This is one of the more widely-used interaction technologies in smart glasses, immersive devices, and physical games.
4. Voice Interaction Technology
Voice interaction can be said to be the most direct and widely used interaction technology between human and machine interactions in the era of wearable devices. In particular, the emergence of wearable devices, and the gradual maturity of related voice recognition and big data technology bring a brand new opportunity to voice interactions. The rise of the new generation of voice interaction is not a great breakthrough in recognition technology but the proper integration of voice with intelligent terminals and cloud backstage. Therefore, the human voice can communicate with the programming world with the help of data so as to realize the purpose of controlling and understanding the user’s intention.
5. Somatosensory interaction technology
Somatosensory interaction technology refers to the use of computer graphics and other technologies to recognize human body language and then transform it into computer-understandable operating commands to operate relevant devices. Somatosensory interaction is a new human-computer interaction method after the mouse, keyboard and touch screen, and can also be said to be a human-computer interaction technology driven by the trend of wearable devices.
6. Haptic Interaction Technology
Haptic interaction is a relatively new human-computer interaction technology in the wearable device industry. It will exert a profound impact on the way people and machines exchange information and communicate with each other. Haptics is the mother of all human senses and is one of the most vital channels for humans to communicate with and perceive the outside world. Information like soft and hard, warm and cold, thick and thin, as well as the shape of objects, can all be perceived through touch. An even more complicated human emotional communication can be achieved through touching sense.
7. Brainwave Interaction Technology
Brainwave interaction can also be considered a consciousness control technology. This technology has been explored to some extent at present but it has not yet been widely applied. It can be said that the brainwave interaction technology will be the ultimate interaction method for the wearable device industry, not only building a new way of communication between people and devices but also between people and people.
4. What are 6 Popular Smart Wearable Devices?
There are various kinds of smart wearable commodities, which can be worn as well as contacted through the human body to gather human health information, assist users to listen to or view content or utilize smartphones for data transmission. These devices can be collectively called “smart wearables”.
Currently, the common smart wearable products cover AR, VR and MR headsets, smart audio glasses, Bluetooth headphones, wearable speakers, smartwatches, smart bracelets, smart rings, smart clothes and smart sports shoes. The details of their functions will be introduced to you.
AR or VR or MR head-mounted all-in-one machine
VR or AR glasses are a type of virtual reality head-worn display equipment, which can turn off the human’s visual and auditory senses from the outside world and lead the user to generate a feeling of staying in an imaginary environment. The movie “Top Gun” is a good demonstration of people’s beautiful vision of this technology. However, a VR glass or AR glasses and other VR items possess strong technical needs, requiring a lot of capital injection, while the production cost is high and not very portable. This device can not achieve large-scale popularity. Currently, it is mainly promoted in education, medical, retail, aerospace and even military fields. However, many consumers focus more on audio and video entertainment so the devices are still needed to be further popularized.
Smart audio glasses or smart glasses
The current smart glasses market is mainly focusing on the combination of smart audio and glasses forms so that the smart glasses can be equipped with both functions, both to be able to use for fashion decoration, but also has an open audio user experience. However, this is only the start of the different manufacturers in the direction of smart glasses. With the constant growth of technologies, smart audio glasses in the future will gradually be connected to visual technologies to achieve parts of the function of augmented reality, providing a richer application.
True wireless headphones or Bluetooth headphones
TWS headphones are also named True Wireless Stereo true wireless stereo headphones. Its exterior part completely removes the wire connection, mainly through Bluetooth technology to achieve wireless transmission. The main functions are listening, talking, watching videos, games. It also has a huge potential to carry multimedia entrance in the future. The biggest difference between TWS headphones and traditional Bluetooth headphones is that TWS headphones are compact, left and the right ears are built-in independent audio master control chips, which can be connected separately with seamless switches on the left and right. Two headphones can be utilized together to achieve stereo sound effects.
A wearable speaker is a type of “audio new specie” between headphones and audio. It is fixed by the guidance of audio transformation so that the wearer can be fond of immersing in the shocking effects of stereo audio at the same time without disturbing the surrounding crowd. Compared to speaker products, wearable speakers don’t have the traits of being lightweight and portable. It can also free both ears compared with headphones to avoid prolonged wearing caused by ear swelling, hearing damage and other issues.
Smartwatch or smart bracelet or smart ring
The smartwatch not only has a customized dial but also shoulders the role of people’s health monitoring. It is an extension of the cell phone screen and is also capable of displaying message notifications, making mobile payments, linking with the smart home, etc. And a few watches also have a complete cell phone function, which can be used independently from the cell phone. What’s more, such watches have a separable embedded operating system and a data processing center with the need to invoke all types of sensors to gather information and also the screen, memory, battery, power management system, and wireless radio frequency system. Its internal chip materials and structural design and smartphones are more similar to those of smartphones.
A smart bracelet can be viewed as a streamlined version of the smartwatches, with a smaller screen, reduced functionality and configuration and retained certain health monitoring functions. It has certain benefits concerning range and price. The mass production of smart rings is relatively less. It is expected that the smart rings can achieve operation interaction, vibration reminders, health monitoring and other functions.
Smart clothing or smart sports shoes
Smart clothing requires a variety of built-in sensors to gather people’s health information. In this way, the circuit design should be considered. What’s more, battery safety, comfort, washability and other elements should also be fully thought over. It is harder the design and manufacture. Smart sports shoes need to install a sensor module in the sole, which is used to gather walking or sports data to provide health feedback. Both kinds of items are not widely available right now, and the cost of mass-produced items is relatively high.
5. The strengths and drawbacks of smart wearables
The strengths of smart wearables
First, wearable devices are more convenient to operate.
Similar to smartphones, which can be more portable compared to PCs, wearable smart devices are not only more portable but also more convenient in use compared to other mobile equipment. The devices can almost completely rely on the natural movements of the human body to achieve operation, such as blinking to take pictures and waving to open the recording. This is more enticing than holding the device with both hands’ buttons, sliding, flipping menus or searching.
Second, wearable devices are carried out 24 hours a day.
Although smartphones are popular, it is always impossible to sleep with them at night. However, wearable devices such as watches and wristbands can do that. Of course, sleeping with them is not a strength. However, the ability to carry them around the clock can facilitate continuous health or medical monitoring of the users. In addition, silent sleep wake-up can be achieved through skin vibration. The devices can be carried along with you for 24 hours which means that wearable devices are not easy to be stolen or lost.
Third, wearable devices are more beautiful and fashionable.
A lot of people prefer to purchase iPhone 5 because of the fashion and beautiful attraction rather than taking into account the powerful functions. Also, even some purely want to show off the vanity of the satisfaction. However, the real use of the function is still limited to calling and texting chat with less use of other software. It is believed that the production of smart necklaces, smart earrings or smart bracelets in the future will be far superior to that of jewelry that cannot bring about practical uses. Nature does not exclude the use of jewelry gold diamond inlaid wearable devices, which is the first choice to show off the rich.
Fourth, wearable devices enhance the ability of the human body.
With the rapid growth of cloud computing, the computing power brought by wearable devices to users will be extremely powerful. As wearable devices are almost integrated with the human body, the powerful computing ability brought by them is like being born with them, just like every person has superpowers. It is not difficult to imagine: without opening the phone, opening the browser, you will be able to know tomorrow’s weather instantly; Scanning the English newspaper and the translation results come out instantly; Only standing outside the mall can you see whether there is a business in the sale; Sitting in the car and you can see the road conditions ten kilometers away ……
Disadvantages of location tracking in wearable devices
Accuracy: One of the main shortcomings of the utilization of wearables to track locations at important times is the accuracy of reports, especially when a patient’s health and safety are at risk. Precisely locating an individual’s position to a specific street or shopping center may not be enough for emergency response teams to find them quickly.
Contact: a lot of people live in regions with limited network connectivity. In these circumstances, location reporting may be delayed or the technologies may not be accessible.
Device comfort: Similar to all technologies, wearables start larger and become smaller and more convenient as they evolve, which may hinder their widespread applications. In terms of athletes, in particular, wearable devices are at best uncomfortable and are vulnerable to injury.
6. The Smart Wearables Applications
Location tracking in wearable devices is useful to track and manage personnel in a lot of ways. For instance, miners can be monitored below deep tunnels and warned to any signs of distress. Location tracking can also streamline contact tracking within groups of personnel if a positive Covid-19 case is detected.
People with Alzheimer’s disease are not often accessible to or are in need of 24 hours and 7 days of round-the-clock care. In these circumstances, wearable devices can track their locations if they go lost from their homes or find themselves at any risk and or they require emergency assistance. What’s more, early detection features can identify issues before they develop and become dangerous.
Similar to fitness trackers, wearable technologies can capture daily life, heart rate patterns and various medical symptoms as well as flag any abnormalities. For instance, a hearing aid with fall detections will respond to a user’s voice commands for help. In the event of a seizure, cardiac arrest or respiratory distress, the healthcare experts can take action and take caregivers to the user’s position in a fast way even if they are not on the field.
Patient with Freedom
People who are diagnosed with mental health conditions or disabilities can acquire more personal independence if the threats of going outside are minimized and tracked. They become more confident and participate in more activities while knowing that they can be reached if issues arise. Then, position data can be transferred to relevant friends and relatives with mobile applications as well as the privacy-controlled social media platform.
The strengths of wearable devices are not beyond to public health. What’s more, the devices can modify the way events are managed. For instance, at large events, a combination of location technologies and on-site staff can be utilized to identify and disperse bottlenecks at entrances. Also, individuals who are searching for quieter spaces can be guided away from the crowd. Smaller places including museums and galleries can utilize location tracking to give guidance to visitors through exhibits as part of a more engaging experience.
7. Smart Wearables Solutions
Based on years of research experience in smart bracelets and smart watches, smart terminal solution designers have introduced a smart wearable smart terminal solution design product that supports health data such as heart rate, blood oxygen and pressure values that can be viewed online and enables online health management
The system can monitor employees’ heart rate, blood oxygen, pressure value and other indicators in real time on the smart wearable intelligent terminal solution devices. The data can also be fed back to the cell phone applications in real time to see the physical health status. At the same time, it also cooperates with major hospitals and participates in medical research projects, through which early detection, early warning and early intervention of health abnormalities are achieved.
Based on this, the smart wear health management intelligent terminal solution design also offers consulting services, such as intelligent doctors, health assessment and health courses, which allow customers as well as enterprises to facilitate timely guidance of the intelligent terminal solution design. According to the backend management program, it is very practical to offer data statistics, status warnings and device management for body health.
Intelligent wear management solutions for smart campus
Intelligent Bluetooth terminal. Upload data to the server through Bluetooth gateways; intelligent identification control or manual operation in the backend can achieve intelligent control and management.
The integrated NFC function is able to realize access control management and campus micro-payment.
The devices can locate students’ positions, achieve contactless attendance, and conduct big data analysis of behavior trajectory, facilitating student safety management.
The real-time heart rate and exercise health data monitoring can effectively manage student exercise, work and rest and sleep. It can be used especially for boarding school student management.
Classroom interactivity can be enhanced to facilitate follow-ups on student learning effects as well as effectively evaluate teaching quality.
A large database can be integrated to achieve additional extensions.