Wearables 101: What PR pros should know

Wearable technology is garnering a lot of buzz right now, but what does it really do? Here’s a primer.

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One of the most popular buzzwords around at the moment is “wearables,” which refers to computing devices that, as you might guess, are worn on the body.

It’s the hottest tech trend of the past year and the field expected to reach a staggering $30 billion in sales by 2018. So what do you need to know about wearables to impress a potential client or someone in the industry (other than making a reference to Google Glass)? Here’s a breakdown of the basics:

Wearables are not new: They have existed for decades, but only recently got a high-tech makeover and some serious cachet. Think of the calculator watch, headphones, or more recently, Bluetooth headsets, which earned a reputation as an annoyance. Fast-forward to 2014. Headphones have turned into pricy showpieces for audiophiles and trendsetters, and that was just the beginning. Now with a powerful combination of miniaturized computing, the Internet, and hordes of enterprising companies, there is a wearable for nearly every activity in our lives.

What they do:
The three major wearables categories are: lifestyle (to simplify everyday tasks and activities), entertainment (to deliver music, games, or movies), and health and fitness (to monitor personal body data for medical and motivational purposes). There are also medical, security and other markets, but those three are the biggies. The most popular types of wearables are fitness bands and smart watches. Though Google Glass has gotten plenty of press (and has been banned from some restaurants and bars), it’s not as popular as a handful of other devices. Then there are the wacky wearables, such as kids’ pajamas with QR codes for bedtime stories, or a headset that reads your dog’s mind.

Coverage head-to-toe:
There are wearable form factors for almost every part of the body (yes, every part; read on). Major ones include: portable heads-up displays (or HUDs) over the eyes for computing, entertainment, or taking photos; an array of jewelry, from necklaces that warn of potential attackers to rings that control gestures; wrist bands to motivate work outs and smartwatches to compose emails; smart clothing to monitor medical conditions and track athletic performance; and even shoes that can give directions. Then there are the “Sexual Intimacy” wearables, which you can figure out for yourself.

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