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Wearables: Paving the way for digital connectivity

31 Jul 2015  | Mark De Clercq

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It's this kind of multi-connected scenario that wearables can bring about globally, but in a far more wide-ranging way. Instead of people typing in symptoms, however, they can share, anonymously or otherwise, a rich tapestry of data about their world with everyone else, to the benefit of all: the speed of traffic, the density of crowds, the fluctuation of temperatures and pollution and humidity, the daily habits of millions of people worldwide helping to generate insight into how we behave, and what secrets there might be hidden in that data that might offer solutions to health, transport and other social problems that we encounter every day. By giving our vast machines better and better sensors all over the world, we can ask them bigger and bigger questions.

Wearables also have the power to transform the world around us, to interact on our behalf with other 'smart' devices that are increasingly common. We already do this, of course. For example, there's a good chance that you only know two or three phone numbers. Because phones can now hide those non-human-friendly strings of digits away behind familiar names of people, or even clickable pictures of their faces, that raw information has been 'farmed out' to a machine so you don't have to interact with it yourself anymore. The same thing happens with all technology, it becomes 'mature' when you don't really think of it as technology anymore.

Instead of carrying around sets of keys, ID cards, boarding passes and other objects that are essentially information-relaying objects certifying your authenticity, a wearable with bank encryption security protocols can do that for you, and so much more. Actions that currently require our direct intervention will become automatic, and mediated by our wearable devices. You can already ask your phone's digital assistant to remind you to buy some milk when you leave the office, but wearables will take things one step further and remove the need for you to ask any specific questions at all. They will know to watch out for you, and automatically help you control both your own healthy lifestyle, and the connected world around you. As technological visionary Arthur C. Clarke one said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It's into this seamlessly magical, extended world of the self that we're heading right now.

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