“How can I give you what you need if you won’t tell me?”
Expressing our emotions in an honest and timely way has come to represent the holy grail of interpersonal relationships. Tapping into your feelings and sharing them with others facilitates a tuning of the world into closer harmony with your own inner state, but it’s an art that eludes most of us. And yet, given the automatic and largely unconscious expression of emotion by our bodies in the form of increased respiration, a quickened pulse, dilated pupils and other physical reactions, one could argue that we’re constantly “talking” about our feelings – it’s the world around that just doesn’t know how to listen.
Enter wearable technology, something poised to become translator and interpersonal mediator of our deepest needs.
Some are using the phrase “Biometrically Attuned” to describe the emerging potential for devices to tailor our environments according to the desires expressed by our physiological data. Jeff Hagins, CTO at Smartthings recently captured the concept well.
“We believe the digital world and the physical world are merging and [done correctly] it will make the physical world programmable,” said Hagins.
“When we change the digital representation, the physical world will change in response. Increasingly, wearable technology is developing the capacity to tap our bodies as a trusted source of data that can serve as digital gatekeeper to our physical experience.”
Nervous on that dark, spooky walk through the nighttime parking structure? Your sensor-equipped smart watch could detect your unease and signal your car to turn on its lights, even start the engine as you approach. This could inspire a greater sense of safety.
Furious after an antagonistic encounter with your boss? Your smartphone could alert your spouse to take extra care upon your return home. Better yet, it suggest that your spouse to meet you at the pub or a good place blow off steam together.
“What will I be wearing in five years?” asks Anina Net, CEO of 360Fashion Network. “Stilettos that lock my refrigerator when I haven’t walked far enough to burn off my calories of the day!”
The stream flows both directions. Wearable devices can pick up on environmental conditions that impact our personal experience and mitigate those same conditions through calculated, even evolving responses.
In this respect, the emerging landscape is of a seamless connection between the external and the internal, bypassing consciousness entirely and freeing our pre-frontal cortex for more important work. Too frequently distracted by the mundanities of life, when mind, body and the environment are working together, our potential for productivity increases tremendously.
“When you have scarcity — it could be money, food, or time — [it] occupies your mind and leaves you with less bandwidth for other things,” said Eldar Shafir, author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.
Therein lies the core of this trend. It’s a shifting of bandwidth from mental preoccupation to digital leverage of physiological data.
What do you need? What do you want? Increasingly, wearable devices will know before you do and deliver before you have to ask.