In the past five years we have been inundated with technology that monitors just about our every move – or lack of it.
From the wristband craze that continues to gather momentum to the smartphone that turns on the washing machine and dims the lights, "wearable tech" is a big part of our everyday lives – and it's very big business.
Tallying your daily step-count has been a staple for those wanting to keep an eye on their physical activity for a while but now, with the growing presence of wearable devices – Fitbit, Lark Life and Apple Watch to name a few – you can monitor your daily sleep patterns, food intake and calories burned; even your mood.
Multi-tasking gadgets – like fitness tracker Jawbone UP which can monitor and adjust the temperature in your home – let you turn on lights, view your home via CCTV and close the blinds, all while power-walking to the shops for a chai latte.
Dr Tony Bartone says three things are vital for achieving a healthy work-life balance: adequate periods of rest, proper nutrition and the appropriate amount of exercise and if a gadget gets you moving and active then that can only be a good thing for personal wellbeing.
"For medical practitioners, the ultimate goal is to exercise for outcomes; if wearable technology gets you there then that’s a good thing,” Dr Bartone says. "To rely on technology as your sole mode of activity and your guidance would be completely missing the point, but in terms of getting there I will take anything that takes you off the couch or away from the TV remote."
For the most part, people view their wearables as a kind of personal trainer on their wrist, and niche sports technology developer Zepp has what CEO Jason Fass calls a "coachable intelligence" – something way beyond a simple step-counter.
Fass says data captured on its wrist-worn gadgets can create a 3D model of your golf/ tennis/ baseball/ softball swing and analyses your form. The device allows you to compare your performance with the world’s greatest athletes and helps you develop training goals to lift your game.
“Wearables in sports are becoming an essential resource for training and the technology is advancing each year,” Fass says. "Our goal is to provide analysis that not only collects numbers, but offers ways to improve those numbers through content in our app."
"We’re turning data into actual coachable intelligence.”
Tech in the workplace
Another up-and-coming purveyor of wearable tech, Movo, is appealing to the corporate market as well as individuals with its low cost and easily customized/branded Movo Wave, a bracelet fitness tracker that counts your steps, distance travelled and calories burned.
Movo CEO Mark Tanner says businesses were seeking to leverage customised devices to rally employee and customer communities around health, wellness and activity.
"The enterprise space is exciting because every group has a different use for the product," Tanner says. "Our goal is to facilitate health and wellness initiatives in each sector, at an affordable cost."
Meanwhile, workforce management solutions organisation Kronos is offering rewards for staff using wearable technology, including lower insurance premiums for US-based staff and subsidised health insurance and gym membership, superannuation and wealth management advice for Australian and New Zealand employees.
Employees upload activity from their devices to their profile on the company’s wellness portal where they accumulate points attached to rewards.
The wrist-strapped Oujiband is another device helping surgeons to hone their skills. Essentially an electronic counterweight strapped to the surgeon’s wrist, it uses a gyroscope and a gimbal to sense fine motor movements. Developers say it smooths shakes to ensure a straight cut during surgery.
Sleeping like a baby
According to the makers of Kokoon, an EEG headphone that induces a slumber, wearable tech is a game changer for health… especially if you travel frequently. Developers say the sleep-sensing headphone can identify the perfect point in your sleep cycle to sound the alarm as well as record your sleep patterns and share data with you via an app to let you know just how well you slept.
The FitBark activity monitor is specifically designed for pups with a detailed app to monitor and track activity and rest patterns. Any lazy day is no longer a secret, and mystery solved if you wonder why Fido is putting on weight while you’re at the office.