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Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 466; doi:10.3390/su8050466
Abstract: This paper aims to elicit insights about sustainable wearables by investigating recent advancements in wearable technology and their applications. Wearable technology has advanced considerably from a technical perspective, but it has stagnated due to barriers without penetrating wider society despite early positive expectations. This situation is the motivation behind the focus on studies by many research groups in recent years into wearable applications that can provide the best value from a human-oriented perspective. The expectation is that a new means to resolve the issue can be found from a viewpoint of sustainability; this is the main point of this paper. This paper first focuses on the trend of wearable technology like bodily status monitoring, multi-wearable device control, and smart networking between wearable sensors. Second, the development intention of such technology is investigated. Finally, this paper discusses about the applications of current wearable technology from the sustainable perspective, rather than detailed description of the component technologies employed in wearables. In this paper, the definition of sustainable wearables is discussed in the context of improving the quality of individual life, social impact, and social public interest; those wearable applications include the areas of wellness, healthcare, assistance for the visually impaired, disaster relief, and public safety. In the future, wearables will not be simple data trackers or fun accessories but will gain extended objectives and meanings that play a valuable role for individuals and societies. Successful and sustainable wearables will lead to positive changes for both individuals and societies overall.
2. Technological Trends in the Field of Wearables
2.1. Quantified Self as Human Data Tracking
2.2. From Data to Information and towards Context-Awareness
2.3. Ambient Intelligence, Internet of Things
2.4. The Requirement of Middleware Technology
3. The Approach from Wearables for Sustainability to Enhance the Quality of Human Life
3.1. User Centric Wearable to Enhance Quality of Individual Life
- Unmonopolizing: Interaction with the wearable devices should be a secondary activity rather than a primary focus of attention.
- Unrestrictive: Wearable devices should be designed for daily mobility activities such as walking or jogging.
- Observable: Wearable devices should respond immediately to other media use such as display, sound, and motion.
- Attentive: Sensors that can be aware of the surrounding environment should be wearable.
- Communicative: Wearable devices should allow users to connect and communicate with other users, surrounding things, and webs.
3.2. Wearables for Social Impact and Public Interest
- Cost Effective: Can be executed en masse in low-cost areas, with a demonstrated business case and need
- Low Power: Runs off a battery, has a long battery life (possibly alternate energy, is power efficient where there is no power)
- Rugged and Durable: Is waterproof, shockproof, weatherproof, heat resistant, easily stored, and built to last
- Scalable: Can be applied to various environments and communities, consider larger ecosystems, easily produced/developed, easy to use, and easy to maintain (fixed/addressed by local skill)
4. Applications of Sustainable Wearables
4.1. Wellness and Healthcare
4.2. Aid for the Disabled
4.3. Disaster Relief and Public Protection
Conflicts of Interest
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