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27 May 2024 11:25

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How wearable tech aims to revolutionise the way we live

Decoded airs on CNN International on Saturday 20th April at 06:30 CET

In a new episode of Decoded, CNN’s Anna Stewart sees how wearable technology will change the way we live, communicate, and interact. From robotic arms to AI-powered pins, Stewart discovers what wearable tech is and the potential of how it may shape our lives in the future.

Most experts accept that a ‘wearable’ is a piece of technology intended to be worn, with a sensor to collect data, and equipped with computing capabilities. It needs to be a connected device that will integrate into the user’s normal life, with the primary goal of enhancing the user’s experience. Professor Esther Rodriguez-Villegas, Director of the Wearable Technologies Lab at Imperial College London, speaks about the purpose of this technology, “Fundamentally, they can be used in areas such as sports, they can be used in healthcare. They are now being used in manufacturing, in unsafe workplace environments to try to improve the safety. So, we are going to see more of that.”

Professor Steve Mann, at the University of Toronto, created eXtended Reality (XR) glasses in the 1970s and has been called the ‘father of wearable computing’. He explains what constitutes good wearable tech, “It should connect us to what’s around us, to our surroundings, to our environment. So, for example, if a wearable tech disconnects you from your world, like you put something on in your living room and it cuts you off the real world, it’s kind of a disservice to humanity.”

The future of wearables is being reshaped by another massive technological wave – AI. Co-founded by husband and wife team Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, Humane is harnessing this AI revolution to make wearables even more integrated into our daily lives with AI Pin. Chaudhri talks about the product, “AI Pin was born as being a new type of wearable device that’s completely new and affords you new types of capabilities that are screen free, hands free, and app free, that allowed you to compute in a different way.”

At the University of Tokyo, Stewart meets Professor Masahiko Inami who has developed external robotic arms with six extra appendages. He describes how the creation has inspired different people, “A ballet dancer tried our system. She said she can dance more than one hour because her inspiration can be affected by extra limbs. Because robotic arms is moving like this – so her next motion can be induced by movement of robotics arms. And so, it stimulated her imagination to create her next motion.”

Stewart tries on the robotic arms, declaring, “This is so strange. The movement is good you can move in all sorts of ways. Imagine the possibilities! The things I could do.”

In Sweden, the programme sees how wearables might exist not only on the body, but also inside it. Håkan Sahlen is one of thousands of Swedes who have had microchips implanted underneath the skin. While his chip is used to make payments, Sahlen says he sees a future for implantable wearable technology in healthcare, “Right now you can you measure stuff with your smartwatch, right? Blood pressure, differential blood sugar and all that. Let’s say you have it inside your body instead and automatically you get that feed into your phone or when there’s an alert, it gets transmitted to your doctor.”

Finally, Stewart sums up her discoveries, “It’s hard to envisage where wearable tech is going. From health monitors to AI assistants, the potential is endless. The question is, how will humans change with it?”

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