A RECENT episode of popular television series The Apprentice, Lord Alan Sugar highlighted that one of the fastest growing new business markets in the world is around the development of wearable technology, challenging his wannabe business partners to create the next big thing.
Of course, the efforts of the two teams were far from inspiring, but in the rapidly advancing world of digital technology, clothing may soon no longer be something we choose simply on style, fitting, colour and appearance. We will want to know what extra it does.
The teams on the hit BBC show went for jacket for women which had solar pads in the shoulder areas, enabling the wearer to benefit from a heating system during the winter, and a phone charger which was concealed in the pocket.
A sweatshirt which enabled the wearer to film the goings on around him was the second idea drummed up, again not a success, but another indication perhaps that in years to come, a lot of what you put on your body could well be wired.
Wearable technology, of course, is already here and available, and technology giants such as Apple and Google have led the way with the development of products such as smart glasses, fitness trackers and smart watches.
Google Glass was launched in the US last year and effectively works like a hands-free smartphone product, allowing users to browse the web via an optical head-mounted display, issuing voice instructions to control the system.
Such advances in technology are of course great to see, but as technology advances rapidly, we cannot afford to lose sight of the potential dangers which come when strapping more devices to our bodies.
It’s all very well being able to track our best running times as we train to analyse our progress, and to be able to keep on top of the latest news and events as we walk along the street, but what about the added risk of distraction and loss of concentration in other areas.
Research recently suggested that mobile phone use whist driving was a contributing factor to more than one-in-four car accidents in the US, whilst stats say you are four times more likely to have an accident if you are using your phone when driving.
Pedestrians are also at greater risk, with research from Confused.com last month revealing that hundreds of pedestrians in the UK are hit every year as they cross a road distracted by their mobiles.
One in seven pedestrians admitted to being so engrossed with their smartphones that they had stepped onto a busy road without looking, whilst nearly a third admitted that their mobile has distracted them from looking for traffic on the roads.
There can be no doubting that modern technology has brought greater distraction to our day-to-day lives – and in our work at Neil Hudgell Solicitors in handling serious injury and fatal accident claims, it is clear this is something which is only going to increase.
There can also be an added physical threat when strapping more technology to our bodies to consider, highlighted by recent claims that Michael Schumacher’s serious brain injury may have been caused by the mounting of a camera on his helmet.
Schumacher was critically injured when he fell and struck his head on a rock in the French Alps and is still immobile and unable to speak.
Wearable technology will continue to expand and develop, with the likes of Apple and Google leading the way, of that there is no doubt.
But anything which further distracts people from possible dangers must be a major concern for all safety campaigners, and must be something we all take into account for the future.