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    Wearable Tech Main
    Once thought to be a dystopian dream of the distant future, the merging of technology and the human body is already well underway, and it could help us avoid injuries, diagnose disease, and even control gadgets with our minds. Google Glass is just the beginning – wearable technology gives us a vast array of incredible, unprecedented capabilities with everything from tiny ultrathin electronic ‘tattoos’ to clothing that translates our movements into computer commands. These 13 inventions are either already available to the public, or well on their way.

    MIDI Controller Jacket Turns Your Body into a Synthesizer

    Wearable Tech MIDI Jacket

    Convert your body movements into music with Machina’s MJ v.1.0, a jacket that integrates a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller with flexible motion sensors so you can operate digital music instruments and computers by modifying the position of your body. It’s so complex, including flexible membrane potentiometers to monitor finger position, it can’t be mass-produced just yet; it has to be hand-made by a master tailor. Other than the placeholders, the sensors are totally invisible, so the jacket looks like any ordinary piece of clothing.

    Air Waves Pollution Mask by Frog Design

    Wearable Tech Air Waves Pollution Mask 1

    Wearable Tech Air Waves Pollution Mask 2

    A smart device that monitors air quality in real time and shares the data to smartphones could help combat the negative health effects of extreme pollution in China. The AirWaves mask is a combination of wearable tech and an app that guides users to areas of the city with better air quality, and enables them to track air quality over time. So far it’s just a concept, but an intriguing one that could help raise awareness and give people a little bit of power over a frustrating problem.

    MYO Band – Control Gadgets Using Gestures

    Wearable Tech Myo Wristband

    Rather than external sensors that ‘see’ your movements, like those used by the Nintendo Wii and XBox Kinect, this gesture-reading system for gadgets measures your actual muscle movements. MYO is a band that fits around your forearm, sensing movements similar to those you’d use on an Apple trackpad, like scrolling, flipping and zooming. It uses Bluetooth, so it could theoretically connect to virtually any mobile device, like smartphones, tablets and televisions. It’s currently available for preorder.

    Robotic Exoskeleton Could Help Paraplegics Walk

    Wearable Tech NASA Exoskeleton

    NASA produced this robotic exoskeleton to help astronauts maintain muscle health in space, but the 57-pound X1 device could also help regular people here on Earth. Compared to the Iron Man suit by NASA, the X1features ten joints with multiple adjustment points that help astronauts in  zero gravity avoid muscle atrophy. Its more mundane uses could include increasing the range of movements possible in people who are disabled in various ways, including walking across varied terrain or stairs.

    Wearable Solar by Pauline van Dongen

    Wearable Tech Solar Dongen

    Fashion designer Pauline van Dongen and solar panel specialist Gertjan Jongerden teamed up to join solar power and couture with ‘Wearable Solar.‘ The line consists of a leather and wool coat and dress featuring a series of solar-powered flaps that unfurl to soak up rays of sunlight, folding away ‘invisibly’ when not in use. The modules contain up to 48 flexible solar cells, which is enough to charge a smartphone 50 percent after an hour in full sunlight.

    HOT Hands-On-Technology SmartWatch

    Wearable Tech Hot SmartWatch

    Are watches the next big thing in smart phone tech? A lot of companies seem to think so, and this gadget is a frills-free example of what they could do. The HOT Smartwatch is capable of understanding your gestures to make calls, and it’s also able to read and send texts, check status updates, check the weather and perform other functions you’d normally do on your phone. It’ll even automatically send a message to emergency personnel if you fall down and hurt yourself. Prices start at just $109.

    Electronic Stick-On Tattoos Track Body Functions

    Wearable Tech Stick On Tattoo

    This ultrathin, self-adhesive electronic ‘tattoo’ could monitor heart rates, brain waves and muscle activity using little to no power, and it’s so unobtrusive the wearer will hardly notice it. The device draws power from electromagnetic radiation or miniature solar collectors, and it’s thinner than the diameter of a human hair. It can stay on the skin for up to 24 hours without any adhesives. It could be particularly helpful for areas of the body that tend to be hard to monitor with conventional equipment, like the throat.

    Reebok CheckLight Hat Measures Head Impact Severity for Athletes

    Wearable Tech Reebok Checklight

    The Reebok Checklight is a lightweight cap that measures acceleration and the severity of a hit as athletes take part in practice or games. An indicator light glows green when the hit isn’t dangerous, yellow for a moderate impact and red for a severe impact that requires medical help. It could help medical professionals and athletes learn more about brain injuries sustained in sports, and how they can add up over time. It’s battery-powered, recharges via USB and costs $149.98.

    T-Shirt Converts Sound Into Electricity

    Wearable Tech T-Shirt Sound ELectricity

    Tested at England’s Glastonbury Festival when it debuted in 2011, the ‘Sound Charge’ tee contains technology that turns sound waves into enough electricity to power a cell phone or other portable device. It consists of a modified piezoelectric film, which functions like a giant microphone absorbing sound pressure waves. Interlaced quartz crystals convert these acoustic signals into electricity, which is fed into an internal reservoir battery. That means you can keep your phone charged up just by hanging out next to a stage or some speakers.

    Cancer-Detecting Bra

    Wearable Tech Cancer Detecting Bra

    A smart bra that uses a series of sensors to detect subtle variations in the temperature of breast tissue could be more accurate than mammograms in the fight against breast cancer (unusual heat patterns can indicate abnormally growing cells.) Developed by a medical tech firm, the bra can identify tumors years ahead of conventional technology. In three separate trials involving 650 women, the bra scored an astonishing accuracy rate of over 90 percent. As long as it’s approved by the FDA, it could be available in the U.S. in 2014.

    ‘Invisible’ Bike Helmet That Deploys On Impact

    Wearable Tech Invisible Bike Helmet

    Would making helmets less dorky-looking increase usage among cyclists? The Hövding makes the case with a high-tech ‘invisible’ helmet that only appears when it’s needed, during an impact. It’s contained within an unobtrusive scarf-like collar, and deploys like an airbag when sudden acceleration is detected.

    Muse Headband Monitors Brainwaves

    Wearable Tech Muse Headband

    Another gadget eliminating the need for conventional means of input is the Muse Headband, which monitors brainwaves. Designed for use with a mobile app, the headband aims to help you focus your mind and train your brain in such a way that it could eventually enable you to control electronics with your mind. Your brainwaves are sent to your smart phone or tablet via Bluetooth to show you how well your brain is performing and translate your brain waves into instructions.

    Stealthwear Surveillance-Avoiding Clothing

    Wearable Tech Stealthwear

    Garments that protect against thermal imaging could enable wearers to evade certain kinds of surveillance technology, like drones and body scans. ‘Stealth Wear’ by designer Adam Harvey is an experiment in using fashion “to challenge authoritarian surveillance.” They’re made of a lightweight, breathable metallized fabric that reflects heat, masking the wearer’s thermal signature.

    Electronic Fingertip

    Wearable Tech Electronic Fingertip

    These ultra-thin electronic ‘fingertips’ could pave the way for new high-tech surgical gloves that enable wearers to feel pressure, texture, motion, resistance and temperature in an enhanced way. According to professor John Rogers of the University of Illinois, the fingertip could allow doctors to sense the electrical properties of tissue or even carry out extremely targeted ultrasounds. The technology could even lead to tissue-sensing surgical robots or the development of electronic skin to restore sensation to burn victims and amputees.

     

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