The future of wearable technology rests smack in the middle of the small cell network. Why? Because most of it will be short hop, small-packet technology – at least for the near future.
For example, The Walt Disney Company had AT&T roll out more than 350 small cells at the Disney World Resort and Disneyland properties. That project finished a few months ago. Now, visitors wear colorful smart “Magic Bands” that let them do everything from unlocking hotel rooms, enter rides, buy food and various other functions.
And, it is a mutually beneficial technology since visitors get the convenience of tether-less functionality while Disney gets up to the minute information on everything from the length of the lines at the rides to how many bags of vanilla are being used at Epcot.
This is just one example of how wearable technology and small cells will change the way we travel, have fun, and in many ways, interact with the new Internet of Things/Internet of Everything (IoT/E). Ski passes will be used, not only for lift lines, but to rent skis, buy food, pay for accommodations and much more.
Connected credit cards will make dinner reservations and let the establishment know exactly when you will arrive, the number in your party and your favorite beverage.
Exit Google Glass, enter flexible, multi-function, variable shape devices that deliver immediate and obvious value, serve a single purpose, and don’t make you look like a geek.
The potential is limitless for the use of such devices. For example, in retail, imagine a smart version of the wristbands that today just identify you at a concert or when you check into a hospital. For the establishment, it provides trackable data on where you spent the most time, what products you handled, how long you stayed, etc.
In healthcare, wearable monitors that measure and store data such as heart rates, blood pressure, and even blood glucose for transmission to health care providers will be common. This is a function that can provide a plethora of real-time data to providers to better diagnose and treat conditions. Expect also to see more creative uses of this information by health care providers and insurers. For example, a company can have its employees wear such a device for a week to prove how many are exercising and thus get a better group rate. This is the health equivalent of a device you plug into your car to prove your safe driving habits and get a break on your car insurance.
Industrial RFID tags have been around for years and used to track inventory and components as they move through the production line and out to stores. Imagine smart wristbands or toughened smart watches that can monitor conditions in dirty or dangerous environments and alert the worker or company to problems and get real-time updates on inventory in work areas where it’s impossible to use a PC or tablet.
In any event, for the society of the future, your data will be you.
Ernest Worthman is the editor of Small Cells magazine