New wearable technology may be the logical extension of the advancements in mobile technology, is currently taking the form of glasses, watches, rings, wristbands and ear inserts. It is starting to move into clothing such as gloves, socks and even shirts.
Ideally, wearable technology enables us to use sophisticated information devices in a “hands free” mode, allowing us to operate more efficiently and safely. But it is much more than just “hands free”; it also enables more efficient monitoring and tracking. Applications for this technology now include law enforcement, medical, bio-technology, consumer, home automation, health and fitness and military. New products and applications for wearable technology are being announced almost daily.
An extension of wearable is implantable or embedded technology. There has already been a great deal of discussion of implantable microchips that can carry the entire health history and identity of the user. This is essentially technology that becomes part of the human body. Embedded chips have been used with animals in studying migration patterns. In this case the limitations may be less technology and cost and more an issue of privacy and intrusion.
Flexible circuits are an ideal fit for wearable technology. Wearable electronics need to be light, dense and bendable. While currently what is considered “standard” flexible circuit technology is more than adequate for many the wearable products, there are requirements that may be pushing the boundaries bit. As electronics gets integrated into some clothing, the need for “stretchable” circuitry comes into play. Flexible circuits have been used in implantable medical devices, ultra small hearing aids, and insulin pumps for several years; all of which require similar interconnect technology as most of today’s wearable electronics.