The wearable tech industry is reportedly poised for massive growth. Forecasts predict worldwide spending on wearable technology will reach $19 billion by 2018. And by 2020, over 150 million wearable devices will ship worldwide. Several factors are converging to facilitate wearable technology integration, including:
•Expanded wireless capacity due to pervasive wireless (WiFi, WiMAX and LTE)
•Cellular market saturation and the need for wireless companies to establish new revenue streams
•Continuously decreasing cost of data, and significant backing from huge companies, including Google, Apple, and others
Connectedness between wearable tech and the wearer opens up at least three categories of energy management opportunities at home, at the office, and personally. For instance, wearable tech allows more user control over a home’s energy. Nest’s learning thermostat has a built-in motion sensor, putting your home’s HVAC system into an energy-saving ”away” mode after a period of inactivity. Imagine how much energy could be saved if a device on your wrist signals your thermostat to go into “away” mode the moment you leave your home or neighborhood.
Wearable technology can also provide information like body temperature, heart rate, and respiration, giving a picture of an individual’s physical comfort. Voice recognition software could even detect when people are complaining about feeling too hot or cold.
Wearable tech can also help to condition the person, rather than the entire space. It’s more efficient to make an individual person feel comfortable, rather than heat or cool an entire space. In an office setting, think of office chairs with heating elements, wristbands that cool your wrists, like those from Wristify, or vents that determine personal air flow, like those from Ecovent.
In a coming era when energy use becomes not just highly personalized, but actually attached to individual people, it’s not hard to imagine developing personal energy profiles of our individual demand and consumption. That could open the door to personal energy bills. Usually we bill our energy use to our energy-consuming assets—electricity and natural gas billed monthly for our home, for example. But imagine if instead of assigning energy consumption to our assets we reassigned that energy consumption to ourselves?
Could wearable tech further open the door to a personal version of demand response? What if wearable tech, in addition to sending personal information out to the systems around us, could also receive signals back to us—perhaps from your utility? For example, utilities could signal a Wristify bracelet to cool a person, instead of an AC unit cooling an entire house.