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 like shoes or a jacket. Often discreet, a person who comes into contact with someone wearing a device may not even realize that the article of clothing is a piece of technology. The benefit of wearable technology is that it can conveniently integrate tools, devices, power needs, and connectivity within a user’s everyday life and movements. Google's Project Glass features one of the most talked about current examples —the device resembles a pair of glasses but with a single lens. A user can literally see information about their surroundings displayed in front of them, such as the names of friends who are in close proximity, or nearby places to access data that would be relevant to a research project. Wearable technology is still very new, but one can easily imagine accessories such as gloves that enhance the user’s ability to feel or control something they are not directly touching. Wearable technology already in the market includes clothing that charges batteries via decorative solar cells, allows interactions with a user’s devices via sewn in controls or touch pads, or collects data on a person's exercise regimen from sensors embedded in the heels of their shoes.

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

  • Wearable technology like Google Glass has a very strong possibility of extending the mobility of learning, further connecting learners to each other as well as to those facilitating their learning, and serving as another collaborative learning tool that can be integrated into the learning process at many levels. With the anticipated release of Google Glass to the general public within the next year, we will probably see quite a bit of experimentation as well as lots of very lively discussion about the benefits and the challenges wearable technology might produce. There are already numerous articles about Google Glass in general and its potential impact on the world of learning. A couple that strike me as particularly worth skimming: an extensive general user review, by Tim Stevens, beginning on p. 45 of issue #89 of Distro at //tinyurl.com/ckwoewp and Charlie Osborne's article "Is Google Glass Suitable for the Classroom" with a great infographic on the ZDNet site athttp://www.zdnet.com/is-google-glass-suitable-for-schools-7000019634/. One other great resource: the Google+ "Google Glass in Education" community at
    https://plus.google.com/communities/107609996462187425150.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 11, 2013 Great resources - jasonr jasonr Oct 15, 2013 Thank for the links [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 17, 2013] A pleasure; glad to learn they were useful.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 18, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • Devices like Google Glass can significantly improve how students interact with video tutorials and follow instructor demonstrations. Applications like Remote Desktop could be taken to a whole new level as students follow live presentations to advanced software using their Google Glasses. As their hands are free they can interact with the software that they are learning without having to disengage from one screen in order to access another. The ability of voice control would also allow a student to say 'Stop', implement an instruction, and then say 'Continue' in order to move to the next step. This would be a much smoother process and one that could be applied to a distant learning model as well as a traditional classroom setting. Perhaps a minor point, but I was taking a distant learning course that took place in a virtual world. Because it was live I felt the need to stay engaged in discussions throughout, which was challenging with a six month old in the house. It's exciting to know that I wouldn't have to excuse myself in the event I had to change a dipper. I think the idea of handsfree will only truly be appreciated once we begin utilizing the technology [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 17, 2013]
  • To reach it's full potential, Google glass and similar devices will need to be true augmented reality devices. It's a good first step but is still only a hint of what will follow in a few more years. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Oct 17, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013

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

  • It's more than just wearable. National Taiwan University have developed a sensor that indicates activity inside your mouth, which includes eating, drinking, talking, smoking, breathing, coughing and more.http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/smart-tooth-sensors - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 19, 2013 Agreed, while I haven't sampled Galaxy Gear in-depth I understand that its possible to have a conversation without having to even hold the device close to your mouth. [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 27, 2013].
  • Add a theme here.

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

  • Wearable technology could easily become an extremely useful tool supporting learning at many levels and will also undoubtedly create many challenges, including the privacy concerns that are already receiving abundant attention among those writing about Google Glass and concerns about how it might interfere with the learning process as we currently know and experience it, as noted in this report in the University of Arizona campus newspaper: http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2013/09/google-glass-could-alter-learning-classrooms.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 11, 2013 Paul brings up a good point regarding privacy. Students are already starting record lessons with iPads and other devices. Schools will have to consider implementing policies around posting/sharing videos recorded in class if they don't already have them. - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • As access to the technology grows and new applications become readily available I think it will be interesting to see if wearable technology will stake its claim in BYOD and potentially lead to a new acronym WYOD (wear your own device). As wearable technology would consume less space than current devices I think its impact on classroom furniture will be exciting. I continue to believe that it will improve small group collaboration, allowing users to stay engaged in the same space, while accessing online content. From my experience mobile devices encourage students to disengage with a group, looking down into the palm of their hands and braking eye contact. Often if a student wishes to share something they have to physically get up and crowd around a small device. How exciting would it be for a group of students to stare in the same space, giggling, laughing and appreciating each other’s gestures, while accessing online media/resources from the same perspective wherever they’re sitting. [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 17, 2013]
  • Wearable technology allows easy access to information in a fairly seamless way anywhere. It will allow us to do casual learning outside the classroom. It will also be a valuable content creation device with the built in video camera. On a related note, how will professors deal with a classroom of students, each pointing a camera at them possible streaming their lecture to the outside world? - andrew.barras andrew.barras Oct 17, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • Informal learning curriculum is somewhat beginning to take the lead away from the 'old' required course structure. Wearable technology can support informal learning...opening up personalized learning, allowing students to design their own coursework, creating courses with more a 'open lab' component, etc. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 19, 2013
  • continues to erode the traditional classroom and the authority of the traditional instructor, creating new opportunities as well as a significant change-management problem. Telling students to "close the laptop" or "put away your phone" becomes meaningless when the technology merges with the individual student. - amichaelberman amichaelberman Oct 23, 2013

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

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