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?

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 18, 2015At some point we will be able to immerse ourselves in an educational experience thanks to these devices. If, for example, I wish to collaborate with another school's robotics club, I can do it via video, but I wont' feel like I am really there. A "Glass like" experience might solve that problem and completely envelope me in the experience.
  • It's a matter of time before students are not just carrying their technology around with them, but simply wearing it. Why carry a phone when you can strap it to your wrist? The "1-1" revolution will be driven further and schools/education systems will be forced to adapt to the fact that students will be constantly connected and potentially constantly distracted. - jerry.szombathy jerry.szombathy Nov 5, 2015
  • - chris.bell chris.bell Nov 5, 2015 Our PE department is already using heartrate, and other biometric devices with students over the course of a class so students can track and then analyze the data. This has great implications for making data visible as well as moving some of the high end data analysis skills to a much lower educational level. Added to this students are reporting that they are more interested in understanding their overall personal health and well being. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Nov 8, 2015 This is a really great opportunity in the physical education sector. FitBits, Polar and even the simple functions of the Apple Watch will give rise to massive amounts of this biometric data.
  • This area of technology has been slow to take off, especially in the education sector. With big products like Google Glass and the Apple Watch not really making the impact one might expect of this relatively new phase to our technology rich lives. However, I think the writing is on the wall and this area's impact will increase dramatically in the not to distant future. Wearable technology will be relevant to the education sector because it will be 'normal' to be wearing something that can solve problems and answer questions. Already standardized tests are becoming impacted and also curriculum is changing. We don't want to teach students to memorize facts etc that they can simply ask their glasses or watch. Testing student knowledge is dramatically shifting away from these standardized questions and answers to focus on more 'ungoogleable' content. - nathan.pither nathan.pither Nov 8, 2015
  • It will not be long before these technologies will allow students to interact with content in a class setting. Polling can take place with a simple tap on a device that is worn by the students. These will also allow for interaction with students from around the globe to gather data for formative assessment. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Nov 8, 2015
  • There is a growing movement and sense of duty in schools with mature 1-to-1 laptop/tablet programs to promote a balanced lifestyle. The irony of this is that wearable technology offers an accurate, efficient and objective measure of physical and mental wellness. - aaron.metz aaron.metz Nov 9, 2015
  • My excitement for wearables is the ability for us to monitor and individualize our learning experience. In the last Horizon Report I believed that Google Glass was where it was at, and despite them not having ironed out the kinks I believe we are in the midst conceptual shift, I wrote in 2014 "researchers predict that the coming decade will be the era of the Internet of Things, when everything will become nodes on a network. Connectivist theory will drive network creation and affect our movements, goods, ideas and information. Networks will affect physical needs such as food, fuel, devices, vehicles and homes, but also more abstract concepts of time, self, longevity, privacy and sharing. The ability to connect digitally with our entire environment will transform who we are as humans. Nick Wreden of the University of Technology of Kuala Lumpur states, ‘There will be absolutely no privacy, not even in the jungle, away from civilization’. Civilization will become a new construct, a merger of digital and physical connections. And in that new civilization the old narrative of keeping children safe behind both brick walls or firewalls will be absurdly archaic." For education, this means a new digital literacy one that completely meshes our online self with our physical beings. It is the 'reading' of our heartbeat to diffuse an altercation on the playground, the 'reading' of our brainwaves when we are off-task, it is the behaviour modification that my smart watch currently gives me to tell me to stand up and get off my butt, it is the instant and personalized feedback that teachers could give when tapped into the physical wearer interface. There is so much potential here for learning.- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • There seems to be considerable overlap here between this technology area and the Quantifiable Self area. I would like to suggest that these be merged. Wearable tech -- and apps related to it -- track data, and that seems to be the biggest sell with this technology. - adrienne.michetti adrienne.michetti Nov 10, 2015

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

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 18, 2015There is a huge possibility for biometric sensors here to track student stress levels during instruction. Perhaps less so on an individual basis and more on class wide basis. Imagining looking at the data after a classroom experience to discover the different aggregate stress levels students felt during a learning experience. Lessons could then be adjusted to decrease or increase emotional reactions to content. Agree - tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015
  • - chris.bell chris.bell Nov 5, 2015 The greater impact these devices are having on our lives. Students start to ask the question, 'what is the highest/lowest resting heart rate?' 'How can I make my VO2 Max better?' and many others. These are questions that are spurred on by personal and individualized findings.
  • Wearable devices with siri, cortana or google now artificial intelligence/personal assistant software becoming a standard - the following isn't academic content but it seems a good example of where we are heading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7t4r2G2XCE - nathan.pither nathan.pither Nov 8, 2015


(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • - michael.boll michael.boll Oct 18, 2015It is another opportunity to gather large tracks (Big) data on student behaviors and work. Something we can step back from and reflect upon.
      • Sensory experience may play a role in schooling. Here's a piece that came to my through ASCD: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/wearable-tech-expands-new-horizons-schools- simon.gauci simon.gauci Oct 25, 2015
      • At what point do we share or not share this information - Strava tracks my bike rides and auto posts to facebook. Should we or do we even want this information out there. Should our workplaces be supporting this in the future to reduce health care costs? Will this create a society of the 'Healthy' or 'Unhealthy'?
  • The traditional fact memorization, rote content method of teaching will have to disappear. These devices will add to the creative possibilities available to students as well. - nathan.pither nathan.pither Nov 8, 2015
  • If a student is able to interact with the click of a button on a wearable, imagine the engagement. Combine this with 4G (and future) networks. There is not a huge need for bandwidth for this simple interaction. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Nov 8, 2015
  • Students will be able to prototype creative models by simply drawing their ideas and saving them as notes for later. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Nov 8, 2015
  • The biometric data collected while students are undertaking different learning activities will give teachers instantaneous feedback on engagement. - mark.mcelroy mark.mcelroy Nov 8, 2015
  • the adoption of this technology will undoubtable amplify the importance of digital literacy programs in schools as more information is broadcast 'out of the box' to third-party companies such as age, location, gender etc... - aaron.metz aaron.metz Nov 9, 2015

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

- michael.boll michael.boll Oct 18, 2015 Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg is doing work in this area regarding biometric sensors and teen mental health. I did an interview with him. Good stuff. You can listen to it here. - liz.cho liz.cho Oct 28, 2015 Very interesting discussion, Michael. WOW!- tosca.killoran tosca.killoran Nov 9, 2015

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