Do Google Contacts herald a future of wearable health tech?
Recently, Google announced that they were working on an exciting project to deliver a Smart Contact Lens for people with diabetes, capable of measuring the glucose levels in their tears via a miniature sensor embedded in the lens. An innovation with the potential to completely revolutionise the way in which diabetes sufferers monitor and record their glucose levels; making it easier and less invasive. With the popularity of health and fitness apps on both iOS and Android (15,000 apps on Apple store; 10,000 on Google Play) in recent years, coupled with the growing success of wearable fitness trackers we ask whether this spells a general trend towards utilising technology for health and fitness benefits?
Fitness tracker fanfare
Last year was supposed to be the year of the Smartwatch (with the Kickstarter funded Pebble Smartwatch, and releases from Smartphone heavyweights – Samsung & Sony) but they were overshadowed in the field of wearable appcessories by sophisticated fitness trackers. For a generation who have grown up in a celebrity obsessed media culture (full of airbrushed images and obsessed with body image) in thrall to their Smartphones with apps for everything; it makes perfect sense that the likes of the Nike+ Fuelband and the FitBit Force have enjoyed relative success. So far the advances in micro sensor technology have largely been employed for monitoring activity and motion to feedback data that helps you reach your goals and measure your performance. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, many of the next generation of fitness trackers incorporated sensors for monitoring your heart rate and sleep. And with Apple’s recent hire of two medical experts sparking rumours that the iWatch could have a health focus, the presence of sensors that monitor our health could become as natural an expectation as a mobile will have a camera.
Just a fad?
Only with time will we be able to tell whether or not the phenomenon of health wearables is going to change the way technology interacts with us, or is just a passing fad. However, the announcement of Google’s Smart Contact Lens (at the start of the year in which Google Glass is likely to be available for widespread release) is at the very least an indication that established brands are taking the concept of wearable technology seriously, and the popularity of fitness trackers and improvements in micro-sensor technology could help shape an industry that is only taking baby steps. However, Apple has been a noticeable absence and nothings settled until they claim their stake in the future of wearable tech.