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?

  • Perhaps by contrast to some other themes in the wiki -- e.g., digital badges or drones -- wearable tech really covers an incredible gamut from relatively simple "here now" implications like basic smart watches and activity tracking smart bands to more "nearly here" stuff like (better) smart glasses, smart implants (?) and smart garments. A lot of these technologies also converge very much with other wiki themes like, in particularly, AR, quantified self, internet of things, and analytics. For these reasons it is hard to be specific about the relevance of this technology without being over specific about creating a context for its application. It is, for instance, is in the cross over with analytics that much of the wearable tech that is really just about gathering data really comes into its own as something useful in a general and more specific pedagogical sense. Companies are now looking for instance to apply biological models to the data collected from activity trackers to give users more useful actionable insights into their own data (how they've slept, how they're eating, how they feel); similarly we will have to develop models to determine what to do with wearable data gathering tech in terms of providing actionable pedagogical insights and achieving learning outcomes for our learners and teachers alike: it is interesting to imagine, however, how we might begin to incorporate felt and feeling metrics into our analysis of the student experience. The ability to track students through a physical environment, authenticate who they are, gather key biometrics from them and track their interaction with others raises interesting possibilities for learning and assessment in particular environments. The likes of Google glass and other smart glasses projects has obviously captured much of the limelight in this space and a number of sources have already identified educational uses for it as both camera (e.g. getting students to keep narrated video journals, or teachers to quickly create narrated guides to particular environments) and AR device (dropping a layer of virtual educational content over some real world scenario) - Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Feb 15, 2015
  • Agree with the above from Gearoid - wearable technology and the era of sensors -whether location sensors, temperature sensors, orientation sensors, audio sensors etc that monitors the learner and that will eventually combines that information with other fields such as quantified self, internet of things, analytics, AR has the greatest potential for learning and could have real impact in education.[- Muiris.OGrady Muiris.OGrady Feb 17, 2015] - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 18, 2015
  • Agree - convergence of wearables with other potentially educational technologies: ubicomp, AR, etc. - tony.hall tony.hall Feb 21, 2015

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

  • Linkages to the whole augmented reality space. The most interesting aspect of Google Glass and projects like it is in its potential to provide real time AR for the wearer. I think the most interesting pedagogical possibilities exist here also - Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Gearoid.OSuilleabhain Feb 15, 2015 - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 18, 2015
  • Agree with above comment, convergence with AR, within wider socio-technical context that constitutes contemporary use of educational technologies. Apple Watch - tony.hall tony.hall Feb 21, 2015
  • The importance of a systematic, learner-centred design ethos and methodology, to help ensure the usability and utility of the technology within different higher education contexts. - tony.hall tony.hall Feb 21, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on third-level education in Ireland?

  • I see the impact of AR technology as having great potential in the fields of laboratory simulation in STEM subjects - ken.brown ken.brown Feb 18, 2015
  • Enhancing/strengthening learning across space and time, potentially augmenting the learning connections across and between multiple educational contexts and sites: formal and informal, casual/elective and compulsory/non-elective, e.g. Google Glass @ CERN. - tony.hall tony.hall Feb 21, 2015

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

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