Check out the colourful history of wearable tech (infographic)

26 Jul 2016127 Shares

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As we sit and wait for the virtual-reality revolution promised to us in 2016, it’s hard to believe there was a time of the abacus ring. Indeed, wearable tech has had quite the history.

For many, the first wearable tech acknowledged was a Fitbit, or some similar derivative that rests on your wrist and measures your heart-rate. But wearable technology is far older than that.

Dating back to a pair of the oldest recorded eyeglasses, it’s possible to head back centuries to see the slow evolution of wearables. To the 16th century, for example, when the Nuremberg Egg was the timepiece of choice, or decades later when an abacus was built onto a ring.

history of wearable tech

History of wearables

While, this year, we see product launches by the day, innovation was slower before the industrial revolution, and technology more cumbersome before electricity became the norm.

Oddities such as air-conditioned top hats and spectacle-mounted parasols emerged during an odd Victorian-era innovation cluster, with the Electric Girl Lighting Company rounding out the 19th century in particularly eye-catching fashion.

Today, things are a bit more fast-paced. Wearables from the turn of the millennium – Bluetooth headsets, for example – date within a year or two. The past 10 years in particular have seen a plethora of health-based wearables emerge.

A report in the US shows that consumers are diving wrist and phone-first into health apps and wearables, with 33pc of mobile consumers (up from 16pc in 2014) now engaged in the new wave of medtech.

Growing capabilities

Now, people can monitor their sleeping, breathing, walking, running, swimming, climbing, eating, drinking and more. The Apple Watch attracted plenty of media, but changed little of note.

That’s until 2016 when virtual reality will become, well, reality. Oculus Rift is already out in front, with the likes of HTC and Sony itching to enter the field.

Below is a history of wearable technology, created by Staysourced. If you find it a little hard to read in places, click to view the full-size version.

The History Of Wearables TechThe History Of Wearables Tech copy

Apple Watch image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt is senior communications and context executive at NDRC. He previously worked as a journalist with Silicon Republic.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com