W is for wearables

 This post is part of a series, “Digital: From A to Z,” that explores what it means to be digital. What’s in your A to Z of digital? Find me on Twitter @Max_Hemingway or leave a comment below.

Whether it’s a smart watch or a fitness tracker, our wrists now contain one of the most popular wearables — one that can also easily be associated with the term “wearable.”

The field of wearables is expanding, with more ways to attach sensors and record data about our daily lives. This typically covers anything that you can wear or attach to your body and that interfaces with a mobile as the central data point, although many devices operate separately and can transmit data themselves.

Here are some of the types of wearables available and what they can contain:


From baseball caps to hard hats, wearables are being incorporated into hats to display or capture information about the wearer or local environment.

  • Display screens to display messages or logos
  • Sensors to monitor heat loss
  • Sensors to monitor the local environment
  • Beacons to show location of the wearer in working zones
  • Knock sensors to detect when a hard hat is knocked against an item


Headsets and glasses provide visionables that can be worn across the eyes to display information to the user of the device. These typically display information and data in one form of reality from a small computing device within the wearable, mobile device or large fixed computer.

  • Virtual reality
  • Augmented reality
  • Mixed reality
  • OLED/LCD screens


Typically we have always put things over or just inside our ears, such as headphones and headsets, to hear things. Bone-conducting headphones change this by placing a conductor alongside the ear and sending the sounds to the inner ear through the bones around the ear. This allows you to hear the environment around you whilst listening to music or a phone call.


As mentioned above, wrists are the most popular place to use a wearable, taking the form of a smart watch or fitness tracker.

  • GPS to provide location
  • Sensors to monitor fitness, activity and movement
  • Sensors to monitor body stats — heartbeat, temperature, sleep patterns
  • Connection to other devices such as mobile phones


Electro-conductive threads are being woven into clothing to provide an ability to power small sensors and devices also sewn or attached to the garment.

  • Ability to power devices through clothes
  • Display screens to display messages or logos
  • Sensors to monitor heat loss
  • Sensors to monitor the local environment
  • GPS to provide location
  • Sensors to monitor fitness and movement
  • Energy harvesting to power devices


Smart shoes can provide power though energy harvesting devices that turn kinetic energy into power, for powering things like sensors in the shoes that track movement.

  • Energy harvesting to power devices
  • Sensors to monitor fitness and movement

The growth in the wearable market and personal data is vast and will bring changes in the way we use and think about wearables. With wearables collecting data about our activities, industries and businesses are looking at how they can use these. For example:

  • Healthcare – monitoring patients through wearables and helping gather data for diagnosis
  • Fitness – helping maintain our level of fitness and telling us when we are doing well against set goals
  • Insurance – using wearbles as a method to bring down insurance premiums of health and life insurance depending on how active you are

Further Reading

Join me next time as I look at “X is for Xperience” in my Digital A-Z series. See my last post, V is for visionables.

This entry was originally posted in Max’s blog.

Max Hemingway — Senior Architect

Max is a senior architect for DXC Technology in the United Kingdom. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a broad and deep range of technical knowledge and is able to translate business needs into IT-based solutions. Currently the chief architect of the BAE Systems account in the UK, Max has a proven track record acquired through continual client engagement and delivery of leading edge infrastructures, all of which have delivered positive results for end-clients, including IT cost reduction, expansion of service capability and increased revenues.


  1. […] Join me next time as I look at “Y is for yottabyte” in my Digital A-Z series. See my last post, W is for wearables. […]

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