Wearable technology is no longer the next big leap, but it is already the present. It is more rigorous and well received than what was mobile few years ago in the reigning era of computers. Well, in just a span of fewer than two decades we have really come a long way. With the rapid proliferation of wearable gadgets, this is really high time to look back at the developments it has passed through. After all, we humans are historical and cannot do away without looking back at things, isn’t it?
But in offering a timeline of wearable technology where from we can begin is really confusing. Instead of going very far we can rather begin with the time when the first workable form of the wearable computer was invented and put to use.
Here we go with our timeline corresponding to the development and progress of wearable technology.
1) 1960 – A Head-Mounted Television Display
Well, decades before the optically mounted VR headsets, a head mounted television display was discovered. That was 1960 and Heilig are credited to come up with the discovery. It was closely followed by a virtual reality simulator with the binocular display, handlebars, vibrating seat and stereophonic speakers. The second was developed in 1962.
2) 1966 – The First Wearable Computer To Control Roulette Wheel
This earliest wearable computer was nothing but a small system with the dimension of a cigarette pack. This was the analog computer that used to be controlled by 4 push buttons and this was invented mainly to control the roulette wheel in casinos.
3) 1966 – First Computerized Head-Mounted Display Came
1966 saw a major leap in the progress of the wearable technology as MIT scientist Sutherland invented a computerized head mounted display. This was closely followed by another invention of eyeglass-mounted display in 1967. In the following years, several inventions came to make the head-mounted computer a reality but still we did not have the optically mounted computer as we know it today.
4) 1977 – HP Released The First Calculator Watch
In 1977 HP released its 01 calculator watch which had 28 small keys on the face of the watch to allow calculating input by the user. There were four raised keys to allow finger accessing date, alarm, memory, and time. According to many, this was the first instance of the smartwatch.
5) 1979 – Sony Introduced The Walkman
Sony, the ace Japanese consumer electronics company paved the way for wearable revolution by introducing the Walkman which was the first wearable music player.
6) 1981- Steve Mann Designed The First Backpack-Mounted Computer
In 1981 a high-school student named Steve Mann just made arrangements to carry the 6502 computer inside a steel-frame backpack and could become able to control many things including flashbulbs, cameras, etc. This was a major development towards the wearable computer.
7) 1993 – BBN Finished Building The Pathfinder System, The First Fully Equipped Wearable Computer
In all these years BBN was engaged in building a fully equipped wearable computer and in the Fall 2013 Pathfinder system arrived. It was a wearable computer fully equipped with GPS as well as radiation detection system.
8) 1994 – Edgar Matias Designed A Wrist Computer
In 1994, the first wrist computer with Querty keyboard was built by Edgar Matias and Mike Ruicci in the University of Toronto. This feature reaches wearable with the full keyboard was the first of its kind.
Present And Future Of Wearable Technology
According to a latest CNBC report wearables are likely to become best-selling consumer electronics product in the world following smartphones and already increasing sales figure for smartwatches is a clear indication of this. Market research firm Euromonitor also predicted that the sales of smart wearables will exceed 305 million units by 2020.
Today as wearable technology we have fitness bands, VR headsets, optically mounted computers like Google Glass, a wide array of smartwatch brands participating in the mobile app ecosystem, smart shoes with digital capability (Lenovo shoes is a nice example), solar charging backpack, etc. Smart garments with digital interface is still being worked upon and can be unrolled as a consumable product anytime soon.
Smart wearable is being worked upon by various companies worldwide. Wristband for monitoring health condition and several types of health data is already being improved to offer more control. A tattoo-like plastic patch is being developed that is capable to monitor vital health signs. A smart contact lens is also being developed that would be able to monitor blood sugar levels of the users. With wearable device sensors targeting customers by retail outlets will become much easier.