I remember being a kid during the height of the Y2K hubbub—would the internet crash? Were all of our electronics going to bug out and be rendered useless? Clearly, we came out of that drama unscathed, but it serves nonetheless as an example of just how heavily we’ve come to rely on our gadgets—and that was almost an entire decade before smartphones hit the market. Fast forward to today, 2014. Now, our phones talk to us and give us directions, research the best nearby restaurants and remind us that it’s our best friend’s neighbor’s dog’s birthday. Not to mention that all of this information is stored in some invisible cloud, constantly floating around us so that we can sync it up to our devices whenever necessary—because of course, it’s no longer enough to just have a phone these days. You’re nothing without your iPod, tablet and laptop, too.
I’m a product of the ’90s, so yes, I’ve basically grown up with computers—but these days, younger and younger children are being given smartphones—purchases that parents surely justify because apps like Find My iPhone can help keep track of kids as they travel to and from school and extracurriculars. But on the other hand, are kids missing out on crucial socialization skills as more and more of their hobbies involve looking at a screen? And younger kids aren’t even the worst culprits—I’ve had countless experiences speaking to my fellow twentysomethings where the simple ding of a text yields major, completely unnecessary drama. We hide behind our technology as a security blanket so that we can argue with best friends and roommates, break up with boyfriends and otherwise avoid the feelings that come with face-to-face confrontation.
It’s undeniable that the landscape of technology is beginning to look more and more like a sci-fi movie, and while this raises some concerns, it’s also hard to ignore the utility of the innovations at hand. As much as the phrase "There’s an app for that" is a joke, it also happens to be true—track your workouts with MyFitnessPal or your Nike Fuelband, brush up on your foreign language skills with DuoLingo and learn how to cook a meal for your vegan friend with a recipe you found on the Whole Foods Recipes app. There’s a new ease to life thanks to apps and technology, but much of the time this comes at the expense of genuine human interaction.
But just as I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the constant barrage of texts, push notifications and so on, I’ve noticed a small shift that could (hopefully!) be the catalyst in changing our attitude towards the way in which we integrate technology into our day-to-day lives. Wearable tech—things like Google Glass, Fitbit and Ringly—help us track our progress, our calendars and more—all while essentially removing our phones from the equation. While our mobile phones still play an active role in the performance of these tech devices, the very act of wearing them suggests that we no longer need to keep our eyes glued to our screens 24/7 in order to take full advantage of the technology that makes our lives so much easier.
In the slideshow above, I’ve taken a look at some of the coolest wearable gadgets on the market today. The involvement of some pretty major fashion labels has turned otherwise nerdy gadgets into sleek style accessories that actually do work for everyday wear, at least from a sartorial perspective. So will these wearable devices that are actually fashionable change how we integrate technology into our day-to-day lives? You be the judge—click through to see more!