The future is currently a construction site. Rethinking and reimagining a technology-infused 2050 is like entering uncharted lands for those unfamiliar with the massive potential of new technology when it comes to transforming industries and building environments.
Recently I was invited by University College London (UCL) to give a talk about the role of the human as the overseer of new technologies and how functional wearables merging with the human body could be disrupting what it means to be human.
As technology gets smaller and niftier, I explored ideas that might sound far fetched today but will likely be our reality in 2050.
It is no secret that wearables have sprung up in the last few years, make big noise, and then fade into the background. Although that has been the case for several wearable products, the thing is, wearables are going to continue to grow as an industry. Whether you buy into it yet or not, wearables in 2050 will become less gimmicky and more impressive and will most likely play a key role in preventative healthcare by looking after us in a way that is not quite possible today.
Rethinking and Reimagining a Technology-infused 2050
Smart Clothing in 2050
By the 2050s, intelligent clothing will most likely have become a trillion-dollar industry. The technology will become more affordable, and almost everyone in the developed world will have at least one item of smart clothing.
According to Futuretimeline.net, smart clothing will help us manage our health better, the garments will continuously monitor our heart rate, breathing, and other vital signs, alerting a hospital or medical professional to the first hint of trouble and ensuring that the wearer gets the care they need.
For example, longer-term conditions can also be monitored from data on the strength and geometry of movements.
We will normalise the idea of fashion garments changing appearance and texture, depending on a wearer’s preference.
Smart clothing will also used in retail, catering, entertainment and other venues – to generate name badges, for example, or change the appearance of a uniform.
Intelligent clothing will grow from being a small and niche market segment in 2022 to a standard part of many apparels and footwear ranges in the 2050s, with the potential to become ever more saturated with biometric and other data.
Health and Wellness in 2050
The biggest positive, in my opinion, is that Wearable technology has the potential to bring several benefits to not only people wearing the devices but also medical practitioners needing to monitor their patients.
At the moment, most of us are familiar with Smartwatches that can track the user’s physical activity and provide insights and recommendations on health and wellness. “Some of these advanced wristbands can also measure stress levels, and data they gather is synched with a mobile application, which then offers recommendations to the user accordingly,” explained Folio3 is a California based software solutions partner for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies that specializes in digital healthcare software solutions. .
Wearable ECG monitors can measure heart rate, rhythm, and other vitals such as blood pressure. The great thing is that these portable monitors can be used with and without smartphones. They can also detect heart pauses, arrhythmia, premature atrial contractions, and other illnesses at their initial stages.
Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors are similar to smartwatches since they can measure daily step count and blood pressure along with everyday activity levels. The monitors brag advanced capabilities such as measuring calories burnt during a workout.
Wearable Biosensors are still under development, but they can revolutionise remote healthcare.
When it comes to health in 2050, I am excited about the idea of Bionic Eyes. I believe that by 2050 the Bionic Eyes will be perfected.
At the moment, the first generation of bionic eye devices first emerged in the early 2000s. Then, they were bulky external equipment with only a tiny number of pixels.
Designed to provide more capabilities to the wearer, the device would improve the living standard of patients with partial or total blindness.
Healthy adults will also be able to upgrade their sight in one or both eyes so they can take advantage of the improvements offered by computerised vision.
The technology will be inexpensive enough in 2050 to reach the mainstream. However, the problems regarding privacy and security will most likely still be the case.
Then there is assistive technology. The health of those with disabilities would most likely have radically changed by 2050.
Imagine living in a world where assistive wearables would have come leaps and bounds by 2050. It is a reality that is easy to believe because today, we are already using brain-computer interface technology to help those without the ability to move, speak, or physically communicate to be able to respond to “yes” and “no” questions with nothing more than their thoughts, now imagine where that kind of technology will be in 30 years.
Even the idea of restoring hearing by reading the brain waves of the person whose hearing is impaired might sound far fetched today, but I think by 2050, hearing aids will not be as we know them today; they will be less intrusive, more invisible and dare I say fashionable.
When it comes to mindful wearables, they become less of a niche and more of a priority. Driven by the fact that mental health has been quite a talked about topic in the last couple of years, fuelled even more so by the quarantine we have all been experiencing since the pandemic.
At the moment, there are devices designed to give your body much-needed rest and a healthier mind, like Muse, a brain-sensing headband that helps you refocus during the day and recover overnight. Translating Brainwaves, the EEG device uses advanced signal processing to interpret your mental activity to help guide you.
In 2050 I expect mental health to be driven by digital self-awareness tools that empower individuals using self-care technology to support early-level diagnosis and change how mental health is diagnosed and treated.
The Smart Home of 2050
Who doesn’t like the idea of an intellixgent home tailored to your living environment? I mean, sign me up. In 2050 a home that understands your current physical condition and reacts accordingly will not look so futuristic.
Today it is already possible for your smartwatch and smart bed monitor to monitor your sleeping patterns and ascertain you didn’t get much sleep last night. I think by 2050, our beds might be able to adjust fabric textures, rigidity and temperature for a personalised, well-rested night’s sleep”.
I also think that some intelligent homes might be designed to assist the aged and disabled. “(The smart home bring a new level of effectiveness in gathering data, monitoring responses to certain medications, and even reporting emergency cases as quickly as possible.
Smart homes will also improve the level of independence enjoyed by disabled and aged people, which will allow them to feel more confident in their abilities.
All in all, intelligent home systems might still be in the early stages of development, but their potential cannot be ignored.
Not The Robot Takeover We Fear
The talk of robots always seems to bring about a sense of “future shock” and fear of ‘robot takeover’.
Yes, the technology would have gone leaps and bounds, but we will continue to be the overseer of the technology in 2050.
Instead, by 2050, the robots will most likely have highly lifelike appearances.
They will no longer be restricted to government, corporate, and research institutions.
The robot’s role in society will include household chores such as tidying up, cleaning and cooking, even looking after children and elderly family members.
In 2050 moral, ethical, legal, economic and philosophical issues around robots in society will probably still be a talking point.
The Rise of Human 2.0
Functional wearables merging with the human body disrupt what it means to be human. Imagine rewriting what has always been? We all know that we are born, we grow up, we age, and then we die. Well, thanks to technological disruption, like implants and robotics, innovators are not only exploring what it means to be human, they are also opening us up to a world whereby 2050, the human body might be populated with powerful technologies.
In 2050 the human being might become indistinguishable from the technology itself. Using the body as a vehicle, we will be breaking boundaries by approaching the human body differently and becoming ‘superhuman’.
It will also become a form of Self-expression, like a tattoo is a today, the difference being that it will also improve the quality of one’s life.
In 2022, the idea of the ‘superhuman’ is still in its infancy, but Aimee Mullins, an amputee, is an excellent example of somebody who has been enhanced with “cheetah” legs.
She is one of the many amputees taking advantage of robotics and emerging technologies. This leaves me to question, in 2050, will it be no longer about replacing one’s leg but more about giving someone a human enhancement makeover in the shape of a limb that is better than their ‘natural’ one?
Back to The Innovation in 2022
As exciting as the tech in 2050 sounds, the future is also now in a weird way. Yes, it is still under construction, but some innovations are paving the way for what we can expect in 2050.
The Go2Sleep Smart Ring
The startup Sleep on offers something new with its Go2Sleep smart ring with features like blood oxygen and heart rate sensors that will record data, including perfusion index (pulse strength), heart rate and blood oxygen saturation.
Partnered with an AI-powered app, the device can offer personalised recommendations.
This is a device for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.
The revolutionary voice-activated device attaches to any glasses and can instantly read to you text from a book, smartphone screen or any other surface, recognise faces, help you shop on your own, work more efficiently, and live a more independent life!
Peripheri are intelligent earrings that are more than just a gadget. Designed especially with women in mind, it was an idea driven by voice assistants’ rise and the need for hands-free, screen-free phone calls.
The Nadi X experience lets you practice yoga on your own terms. Bragging integrated sensors and haptic feedback (vibration) and using Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to your smartphone, the Nadi X pants are perfect for those who either love yoga or are curious about it.
The latest generation of Owlet Smart Sock monitors a baby’s heart rate, ensuring their sleeping and breathing haven’t been interrupted.
It syncs to your iPhone or Android phone to deliver data in real-time, and it also works with Owlet’s new Connected Care platform, which helps to identify potential health issues, sleep irregularities, RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, chronic lung disorders, and heart defects.
There is a lot of intelligent clothing out there designed to make you fitter, so it is quite nice to be introduced to an innovation that looks after your health differently.
The Siren socks are designed to detect and prevent diabetics’ foot injuries. Also referred to as Siren’s Diabetic Socks and Foot Monitoring System, they use small sensors placed throughout the socks’ fabric to measure the foot’s temperature at six different points.
The socks’ microsensors are woven into the fabric to monitor the temperature continuously. So when the sensors detect a rise in heat, such as an inflammation occurring, an alert is sent to the user, like a smartphone notification or text message.
The idea is to catch injuries before it’s too late since inflammation can lead to foot ulcers or even worse amputations.
Introducing a swimwear that is equipped with a removable medallion-style waterproof sensor that stops you from staying too long in the sun.
So how does it work? Well, once you’ve entered your skin type in the companion iOS or Android smartphone app, it’ll monitor the temperature throughout the day.
Half the size of an adult’s thumb, waterproof, the device will send out warnings when it is time to apply more sunscreen or get into the shade.
As wearable technology evolves, the next generation of wearables will be’ transformative’.
They will go from smartwatches and ear-worn devices to more “smart clothing” solutions that can gather more detailed data and are easier to use. In 2050 I foresee a world where all the technology will work together to improve how we live and how long we live.
Founding editor-in-chief of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta is currently one of the leading influencers writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology. She has also given talks at Premiere Vision, Munich Fabric Start and Pure London, to name a few. Besides working as a fashion innovation consultant for various fashion companies like LVMH Atelier, Muchaneta has also contributed to Vogue Business, is a senior contributor at The Interline and an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.