As time goes by and technology improves, more and more companies are developing wearable electronics for multiple uses. Smart watches and wristbands are used as fitness trackers to keep an eye on the user’s heart rate and distance covered during a run. Flexible nanomesh “tattoos” allow the skin to breathe while preventing inflammation. Patches worn on the skin can monitor patients’ glucose levels, offering a non-invasive way for diabetics to check on their health status. Sensors can be used to send an alert when food and beverage products become spoiled, thereby reducing foodborne illnesses and cross-contamination. Graphene-based technology built into babies’ sleep suits could potentially reduce the risk of SIDS by monitoring their breathing and heart rates. Some wearables derive energy from users’ movements, which means faster charging times and less reliance on cords and power outlets. Researchers have even come up with piezoelectric fabrics consisting of a conducting carbon fiber yarn core, which can trigger smart phones to take selfies of the wearer.
So, what does this mean for the general public? Many of these wearable devices have been developed with the goal of being cheap and portable, which means that a bigger segment of the population will have access to health monitoring devices. Hard-to-reach areas of the globe will benefit from small, easily transportable medical devices and monitoring tools. Comfort is also key, as devices such as the aforementioned glucose monitoring patch may significantly reduce the need for painful needle pricks and other invasive procedures. Money could be saved and illnesses could be avoided if consumers were alerted to potential food spoilage.
Generally speaking, the goal with these technology developments is to make life easier for people. And while that may be true, it also raises the question of how our personal security may be at risk. Technology isn’t without its flaws, of course, as is evident in the news — credit card company security breaches, privacy issues on social media networks, personal information being bought and sold on the dark Web. Domestic and international culprits have broken into power grids, banking systems, and government records. Even the most basic, innocuous electronic devices can be hacked, down to baby monitors and personal home printers. Convenience comes with a price.
But, for many, the risks are worth it. Technology is always moving forward, and experts are constantly developing ways to make it more secure. If it makes life better and easier, then there will always be people willing to give it a try.