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  • Carli Philips

Data Chic

A new generation of wearable AI devices prioritises health tracking and aesthetics in equal measure. By Carli Philips.
The Temperature Earring, an innovation from researchers at the University of Washington. The decorative earring monitors the heat of your earlobe with the aim of tracking health metrics, while the sensor dangling below estimates room temperature. Photography by Raymond Smith/University of Washington.

Want to know your resting heart rate, internal temperature and sleep patterns without going to the doctor? With wearable AI, you can. The emerging category of wristbands, electronic textiles, rings, earrings and glasses promises to gather and interpret detailed, possibly life-changing, information about your health directly from the source — your body. It’s a booming industry predicted to grow from $41 billion to $434 billion in the next 10 years. 


In 2015, Apple launched its first smartwatch, which could track and report on a wearer’s fitness, sleep and physical activity. Although smartwatches still dominate the wearables market, a host of more compact and increasingly advanced electronics are giving them a run for their money. 


The Temperature Earring, an innovation from researchers at the University of Washington. The decorative earring monitors the heat of your earlobe with the aim of tracking health metrics, while the sensor dangling below estimates room temperature. Photography by Raymond Smith/University of Washington.

As wearables become more common, companies are focusing on making them as fashionable as they are practical. “Beyond functionality, the potential for stylish customisation is a key feature [of new wearable tech],” says Alice Crossley, a foresight analyst at trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory. “It’s essential that [brands] design wearables that are wearable. Consumers are looking for the technology to be in second place behind the aesthetics.” 


Take the Thermal Earring, a groundbreaking innovation from researchers at the University of Washington that monitors earlobe temperature and has shown signs of being able to track stress, exercise and even ovulation. Weighing as little as a paperclip, it attaches to the ear via magnets and can be adorned with charms or gemstones to disguise the fact that it’s a piece of tech.


Smart rings are also gaining traction. The Evie ring, for example, is a women’s-health-specific wearable that reads heart rate, blood oxygen, respiration rate and skin temperature, and communicates the data to the app so wearers can identify health patterns such as the correlation between mood and their menstrual cycle. Available in gold, rose gold and silver, it’s also considerately ergonomic, with a small gap and a slight flex to account for fluctuations in finger swelling.


The minimalist Oura ring has famous fans and has collaborated with Gucci. Photography courtesy of Oura.

Another ring, the Oura, has found fans in Jennifer Aniston, Prince Harry, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian. Sleek and minimalist, it measures sleep, heart rate and physical activity, feeding the information back into the app to provide a holistic picture of the wearer’s health. A partnership with Gucci saw a special-edition Oura ring featuring the fashion brand’s interlocking-“G” monogram and a braided trim in 18-karat gold. “It signifies the growing crossover between the luxury and wellbeing sectors,” Crossley says. 


The Future Laboratory reports that smart glasses will be the next big thing. While Google released its first iteration in 2013, so far, smart glasses haven’t been utilised for health tracking the way other wearables have. French company Julbo’s smart sunglasses have been designed specifically for sport, with information on performance factors such as pace, BPM, elevation gain and speed all viewable on a live lens display for easy reading while you sweat it out.


Ray-Ban Meta Skyler smart glasses feature Meta AI with Vision capability, harnessing AI for view sharing and much more. Photography by courtesy of Ray-Ban.

In our always-on world, where our data is tracked across socials and the internet, is relying on yet another piece of technology to monitor something as intimate as our health really necessary (or advisable)? As it turns out, when it comes to healthcare, wearables can be incredibly empowering and, when they’re used well, have a lot to offer.


Wearables enable people to take ownership of their health, with the ultimate goal of improving their quality of life. And who wouldn’t want that? “Living longer isn’t enough; consumers want to live better,” says Crossley. “In the coming year, demand will increase for accessible AI-driven apps and wearables that inform health-conscious consumers how to feel their best. And as wearables become more portable and less intrusive, people will soon access the same quality of information and care they receive in hospitals and medical practices from the comfort of their homes.”


The results are in: well-designed health-oriented wearable AI is the way forward. 


This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our twelfth edition, Page 46 of Winning Magazine with the headline: “Data Chic”. Subscribe to Winning Magazine today.  

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