When is a wearable not a wearable?

Last night we were invited to speak at a Girls in Tech panel on ‘The Future of Wearables’. The discussion was broad covering topics like how wearables are changing our lives today, future uses, and how consumers and companies are dealing with data privacy.

But one of the reasons the discussion was so wide-ranging was because of the panel line up.

From left to right: Kirstin Hancock, Diogo Coutinho, Phoebe Scriven, Nell Bennett, Maria Rakusanova and Steve Dann.

From left to right: Kirstin Hancock, Diogo Coutinho, Phoebe Scriven, Nell Bennett, Maria Rakusanova and Steve Dann.

Nell was joined by:

  • Maria Rakusanova, Mobile & Gear VR Product Marketing Manager at Samsung, who spoke about smartwatches, virtual reality and augmented reality.
  • Kirstin Hancock, Co-Founder of Blue Maestro who have just launched a smart pacifier which also records your baby’s temperature.
  • Steve Dann, Founder of Medical Realities, who introduced us to the idea of surgical training using augmented reality.
  • Diogo Coutinho, Innovation Manager at Vinaya. They make connected designer jewellery which filters notifications from your phone and sends subtle vibrations for things you’ve set as important.

It got us thinking about what actually is a wearable.

You may not be surprised to hear that we all agreed that doppel is a wearable. Vinaya - also a wearable. But from there the line became blurred and we didn’t all completely agree. In some scenarios we said yes, virtual reality and augmented reality is a wearable. But in others not so much. And what about the Internet of Things?

Read our ideas below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

“Wearable technology is anything that's natural home is on the body. Wearable tech is often presented as a "new thing" but some how we forget that watches are 'wearable' and 'technology' - and have been around for over 500 years!” - Nell
"I am happy to agree that anything that is attached to your body and is man-made is wearable technology, but some are better than others. A sword is generally more effective than an amulet. I read this interview with Jon Ive where he makes a parallel between how we went from a clock tower to a wristwatch to explain the apple watch. We can miniaturise an iPhone, put a nice strap on it, and stick it on a wrist. That is a wearable, but it is a lame wearable." - Fotini
“Wearable technology... I pretty much think it's anything man-made that supports itself on the outside our body. Even clothes - they give us warmth, or cool, social status, authority, good feelings, can make us feel like another person. Powerful stuff. An old mechanical watch augments our ability to perceive time. A hearing aid literally improves our hearing. We've even created wetsuits designed to mimic shark skin that makes us much faster swimmers. That said, VR is in it's own section of WT because it's really about immersing us in the digital world where we don't even have a body! What if our digital avatar is digitally wearing some digital tech? Is that wearable technology? Tech-ception!” - Jack
“For me, virtual reality is not a wearable. VR is it’s own thing. You can’t wear a virtual reality headset and get on with your day as you ordinarily would? I think a wearable is something that you could wear all the time, although you might want to check it’s waterproofing before you get in the bath.” - Georgina