Wearable tech is changing the way we think about physical disabilities, according to a Fortune article by David Z. Morris. Citing a few different examples of boundary-pushing wearable devices, Morris argues that the technology could redefine physical disability itself, with users coming to see “the body’s weaknesses as negotiable,” as one consultant puts it.
A few key companies serve to illustrate Morris’ point. Lechal, an India-based company, has developed footwear that can transmit environmental information to the wearer via vibrations against her feet, with additional biometric data on pace and navigation available as well. Soundhawk, meanwhile, has developed a hands-free headset that can enhance the user’s hearing – and it’s not just for users who are hearing-impaired; it’s for anyone who wants better hearing.
And then there’s OMsignal, a Montreal-based developer of wearable clothing that can track advanced biometric data. While that company’s products include shirts that can monitor fitness-tracking statistics, its chief medical officer suggests that the technology could help with sleep apnea, diabetes, lung and heart disease and other such conditions.
Wearable tech has been building momentum for a while, and it’s pretty clear that it’s going to have a significant market presence over the next several years. Morris cites a Transparency Market Research reports predicting that the market will reach a value of $19.68 billion by 2019. But more importantly, the technology could have a transformative impact on people’s lives, blurring the line between able-bodied and disabled.