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Wearable Technology Expected to Grow and Morph

September 1, 2017

smiling woman wearing virtual reality glasses

Faster, smarter, and lighter than ever, computers today are shrinking in size, and in the booming wearable tech world, that’s a good thing. From fitness trackers to medical implants, the demand for wearable technology is rapidly increasing. Earlier this year, CCS Insight, which analyzes the mobile and wireless industries worldwide, forecasted that the wearable tech market will grow from approximately $10 billion in 2017 to nearly $17 billion by 2021. The forecast highlighted the smartwatch market, which is expected to see shipments of 43 million units in 2017, and sales doubling over the next four years to 86 million units in 2021.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the wearables market is not only growing, it is also morphing as well as evolving. The global technology media, events and research company says that although health and fitness remain a major focus of wearables, companies are working to merge the capabilities of separate single-purpose devices into multi-purpose devices. In addition, once the devices connect to cellular networks and the internet, IDC expects unique applications and communications capabilities to become available.

So what qualifies as wearable tech? Broadly speaking, wearable tech is any electronic device worn on the body or inside it (as an implant, for example). Many devices have intelligence behind them; they can take input, process it, and provide meaningful output. For example, a fitness tracker takes raw data from one or more sensors, processes it, and reports the number of steps a wearer has taken over a given time. The sensors are smart enough to track a person’s motions and differentiate between steps and other kinds of body motions.

Other wearables, such as smartwatches, have almost all the features and capabilities of smartphones. Newer models include fitness trackers, allowing users to do things like send and receive phone calls and texts, take pictures and videos, search the internet, pay bills, get directions, and check their activity levels. Smartglasses offer similar smartwatch features, but display information onto the lenses of eyeglasses or a heads-up display. Though not as common, but still trending, smart clothing and shoes can record a wearer’s biometrics using sensors attached to fabrics and insoles. Examples of implantable wearables include life-saving pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), retinal implant chips, and even microscopic sensors inside ingestible pills that relay data about a patient and the effects of prescribed medication.

Wearable tech innovations at UCF

UCF researchers continue to stay ahead of today’s trends, creating innovations in wearable technology for both future as well as current products. For example, one UCF researcher and his team have invented a skin-like display that can conform to any shape and dynamically change colors when applied with different electrical voltage. The groundbreaking technology developed by Debashis Chanda, Ph.D., enables makers of wearables to produce multi-color, high resolution images for a variety of devices, including lightweight (even stylish) virtual reality eyeglasses that replace the bulky helmets used in gaming and simulated military training. The technology is also ideal for making different kinds of smartwatch displays and smart clothing that combines multiple display, biometric and sensing capabilities.

Even more impressive is the fact that the invention needs only a fraction of the energy required by current technology. Often times, the displays on wearables are big drains on batteries; thus, many users have to recharge their devices at least daily. With Chanda’s invention, wearables can go much longer without a charge, greatly extending a device’s battery life. To learn more about Chanda and his work, read this month’s faculty feature coming soon.

Besides Chanda’s work in dynamic displays, UCF researches have made other significant advancements in wearable technology. For example, one invention enables the creation of implantable, deep brain stimulation devices. Another invention provides weavable filaments that harvest and store solar energy.

For more information about UCF’s latest wearable technology inventions, additional potential licensing or sponsored research opportunities, refer to the following list:

Technology

Contact

Optical Technology Offers High Diffraction Efficiency and Polarization Sensitivity

New Process and Applications for Flexible Electronic and Optoelectronic Circuits

More Color and Brightness for Compact Displays

High Performance, Structured Granular Composite Materials

Resonant Cavity Enhances Efficiency of IR to Visible Light Conversion

Brain Surgery: Improvement of Deep Brain Stimulation Methods, Systems, and Devices

New Electrode Contact Improves Targeted Electrical Current Flow from Deep Brain Stimulation

Low Voltage Up-converting IR-LEDs for Battery Powered Displays

John Miner
407.882.1136
New Filament Combines Solar Energy Harvesting and Storage Capabilities

Tunable, Uncooled Infrared Detector with Narrow-Band Wavelength Selectivity

Raju Nagaiah 407.882.0593
Synthetic Biodegradable Materials for Biomedical Applications

New Coating for Prosthetic Implants Helps to Reduce Inflammation and Bone Loss

Brion Berman 407.882.0342

 

By: Kathleen Snoeblen