February 11, 2016 / Melissa Faudree

Wearable technology has become all the rage. As the name implies, the devices are worn on people. They can be worn on your wrist, face, or clipped on your clothing. Most frequently you hear about smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch or fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit. Smartwatches keep you connected to your phone. You can respond to text messages or emails. You can even answer phone calls. Fitness trackers will monitor a person’s health and physical activity. Fitness trackers use smart sensors to track your activity. Most wearable devices use Bluetooth from your smartphone to connect.

By now, you either have had one or know many people who use these wearable devices. These devices are all about connections. They are bringing more people together and allowing us to communicate in different ways. They are improving the way we live and ultimately, changing our lifestyles.

Sometimes wearable technology reminds me of the science fiction thriller, “In Time” starring Justin Timberlake. For those that haven’t seen the movie, it takes place in the year 2169. It is an era where everyone is genetically engineered. People now have digital clocks on their forearms and time has become the new currency. Once you turn 25, you are only able to live one more year unless you buy additional time. Literally everything costs you more time including food, transportation, and shelter. The country is divided into time zones based on wealth. The poor aren’t able to live long and the wealthy almost become immortal.

But could digital clocks on our bodies really be that far away? Okay, maybe not the premise of being genetically engineered like in “In Time” but the idea of having implantables. It may sound like something from a science fiction movie or book but implanting a small device into your body may be closer than you think. Actually we have been doing this for years with pacemakers and cochlear implants. However, I’m talking about smart implantables, like wearable technology but now inside your body.

Imagine if you could unlock your house and car with your smart tattoo. You would never have to worry about losing your keys again because you are always walking around with them! You would have no other choice, right? Other implantables could include pills that communicate to your doctors, healing chips, or smartphones that are embedded in our arms. Right now it seems like there are so many possibilities for implantables.

One woman implanted a magnet and radio tag under her skin instead of hassling with something on your wrist. Alexia Mckenzie, a hardware designer, completely changed how she lives in her home and it’s all because of a small magnet in her hand. She receives notifications whenever mail is delivered to her front door. If someone is knocking at her door, she is able to learn who the visitor is without even moving an inch by looking at her webcam on her phone. Her plants have a homemade irrigation system. She will never run out of milk because Instacart is open 24/7 in the refrigerator. She also gets better sleep with the help of the magnets in her hand sending her small vibrations.

The part that I see as the most beneficial about implantables is the opportunity to save lives, learn how diseases function and find cures, and improve our overall wellbeing. If you were able to get a small device (smaller than a a dime) implanted into your body that could monitor your health and rely information to health professionals, would you do it? There are some people who aren’t 100% on board with this idea. I understand there are risks and privacy issues with implantable technology but I think we are still so early in the technology that a lot could change.

I foresee implantable technology taking over wearables. Like all technology, there is always something new that is either invented or released, making the other model outdated. That is just the way it is. So your Fitbit or Apple Watch will eventually collect dust or get thrown away.

What do you think about implantables? Where do you see the future of wearable technology?

Posted In: Blog, Technology