What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology refers to devices that can be worn by users, taking the form of an accessory such as jewelry, sunglasses, a backpack, or even actual items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools that track sleep, movement, location, social media. There are even new classes of devices that are seamlessly integrated with a user’s everyday life and movements. Google's “Project Glass” was one of the earliest examples, and enabled a user to see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them. Smart watches are becoming commonplace, allowing users to check emails and perform other productive tasks through a tiny interface. A rapidly growing category of wearable technology takes advantage of the burgeoning interest in the “quantified self.” The Jawbone UP and Fitbit bracelets are two examples that track how you eat, sleep, and move. Empowered by these insights, many individuals now rely on these technologies to improve their lifestyle and health. Today’s wearables not only track where a person goes, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Wearables could (eventually) be a relevant part of the mobile campus ecosystem. Assuming wearable devices can be designed to work seamlessly with other technologies, they could be an important (and perhaps eventually inexpensive/lightweight) tool to help provide students with ready access to campus information, assistance with getting oriented to campus services, etc. - jasonr jasonr Oct 17, 2014
  • Wearable technology as assessor of the self (anxiety), fitness, health, and imersive learning: http://ht.ly/CZolQ - Mark.fink Mark.fink Oct 20, 2014
  • Haptic technologies are related to wearable technologies, particularly in the form of body suits, which are primarily being tested with regard to video gaming. While I think haptic technologies for online learning would add a sensory experience to presence and be interesting, it is likely farther out than 5 years. - Jolie Jolie Oct 23, 2014
  • Wearable technology--even though still very much in its beta phase--is already working its way into learning spaces used by our more adventurous/creative colleagues. A tool along the lines of Google Glass has the potential to be another aid in extending the reach of what happens in learning spaces if learning facilitators and learners can interact via Google Hangouts or other video-conferencing tools, and recordings of learning sessions can be archived so they're available to learners unavailable for the live sessions; it adds to what tablets are already providing in terms of connecting onsite and online learners and learning facilitators.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • Wearable technology in all its many guises does indeed have the potential not only to change the way we teach, but also the way we learn and the way our students create work e.g. Why write a "day in the life" essay when you could film it through Google Glass? This technology is a game changer. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - larry.miller larry.miller Oct 20, 2014 Wearable can be an important element id using adaptive technologies for those with disabilities - this story from MIT Media Lab http://bigthink.com/design-for-good/let-your-finger-do-the-reading-with-this-great-device-from-mit-media-la?utm_content=bufferfed28&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  • Cost of technology along the lines of Google Glass is currently a major hurdle, but this could quickly change if Google prices Glass at a level competitive with tablets.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • This is an exciting topic that could have major implications in the higher education market, but it needs to be developed more and affordable for all users to gain access. I do see devices becoming smaller and wearable maybe even embedded into us (scary but probably the future). - mbuckner mbuckner Oct 26, 2014
  • An area found out to my cost is the issues with authentication on wearables. With Glass only supporting WPA/WPA2 and WEP, this does not allow us to use them on campus as Eduroam is an authenticated wi-fi system it looks like a Plan B is needed. It would have been excellent if Glass could use Eduroam, especially for Technology Enhanced Learning applications but it would appear that tethering to an iPhone is the only option for on Campus use. Though this is going to rule out a number of lecture rooms and teaching spaces. - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 27, 2014
  • Just about to order Google Glass, Neil. Unaware of Eduroam authentication issues. Can you contact me to discuss further, please? Thank you. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014
  • Lots of "magic bullet" issues here. It will be important to address the social informatics issues of privacy, security, technology-overload with wearable tech. - momillard momillard Oct 28, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Didn't see this article in the press clippings but offers a good start: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7102.pdf - jasonr jasonr Oct 17, 2014
  • Fascinating potential here. Wearable devices like the upcoming Apple Watch are designed to work with the iPhone. The closer the connection becomes between wearables and larger smartphone/tablet devices, the greater the potential impact. On the logistical side, wearable devices could provide easier access to notifications without the need for students to hold a device, and provide a conduit for tracking/capture of realtime location/audio/video data. This could add a new dimension to place-based augmented reality / simulations without the need for students to constantly "hold" a device. - jasonr jasonr Oct 17, 2014 - helga helga Oct 24, 2014 - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 27, 2014
  • We'll be moving from purchasing our books online to bringing our wearable technology to class. Another shift away from the laptop, perhaps. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 25, 2014
  • It's an additional extension of our learning spaces--one that further raises the question "How Big Is Our [Classs]Room?": https://buildingcreativebridges.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/oclmooc-connected-courses-mooc-ccourses-and-atd-chapter-leaders-how-big-is-the-room/.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 26, 2014
  • There are impacts on teaching and learning like security, personal rights and also teaching. In Europe (or at least in Switzerland) there are schools in which smartphones are not allowed to be used during the lessons. What will they do when students wear smart watches or Google Glass? There can be a challenge with preventing from cheating in classes when students use wearables.- rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Oct 27, 2014
  • If everyone has access to information all the time via wearable and mobile devices, what is the point in testing information retention via examination? Perhaps we will see a shift towards creativity and critical thinking across all subject areas at all levels in the future. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 27, 2014
  • When university wifi networks carry biometric data (such as heart rate), will we become responsible for handling this as personal medical data? - edward.oneill edward.oneill Oct 27, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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