In a sense, “wearable technology” has been with us for centuries. The first “necklace watch” was invented in the 1500s, the first wristwatch in the 1600s. Wearable technology entered its highest-impact realm—medicine and healthcare—in the 1800s with the invention of the first wearable in-ear hearing aid. It entered the digital age with the digital watch and the nascent app age with the calculator watch.
This long history culminated in the revolutionary Fitbit in 2010. This wearable step-counter opened the floodgates of the “Quantified Self” movement—wearable devices to track and count everything about a person, from their heart rate to their blood sugar, in an effort to optimize user health. An even bigger breakthrough of internet-enabled (IoT, or the Internet of Things) wearable health monitors furnishes healthcare providers with medically relevant data between doctor visits, providing doctors a much more robust picture of their patients’ health.