Nearly everyone has heard about wearables by now. And for those who haven't, it's not referring to clothing. Although there is a fashion element to wearable tech.
The idea of wearable technology has been floating around for more than 20 years, but it's only now that we're seeing a plethora of these devices on the market. The interest in the devices is why Google has spent a small fortune on Google Glass and Samsung has produced a companion watch for its smartphones.
Low-tech and high-tech
On the low-tech side of wearables is one of the pioneers in wearable tech, Gunnar Advanced Gaming Eyewear. This eyewear came out in 2008 and was designed to reduce eye fatigue for gamers. A new version has come out to target anyone who uses a device with a screen.
Eyewear is a strong category for wearables, as evidenced by the buzz surrounding last April's debut of the Explorer edition of Google Glass.
Wearing Google Glass is like having a miniature computer screen in the upper right corner of your vision at all times. It might look a little nerdy, but it's hip nerdy, so that makes it okay. And that's the fashion element. People like the idea of wearable tech, but they don't want to look ridiculous.
Where to wear a wearable
The wrist is a popular place for wearables, with 28 percent of adults in a Forrester survey saying that they wanted to wear a sensor device on their wrist, as opposed to having it elsewhere. Surprisingly, considering the interest in Google Glass, only 12 percent said they'd want to wear a pair of glasses.
One wrist wearable is the Pebble Smartwatch, which debuted last year after a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. It connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth.
The fitness industry is a strong player in the wearables market, with everything from Recon Instruments' Snow, for skiers and snowboarders, to the upcoming Recon Jet for cyclists. Nike's Fuelband SE has been a strong contender in the fitness market in colors that appeal to men and women.
Whatever you choose to wear, know that there are both consumer and business applications for wearables. Some are standalone gadgets, and some link to another device such as a smartphone or tablet.
And if you don't see any wearables on the market that appeal at the moment, just wait. Another will surely be debuting soon.
Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.