UNICEF Innovation Unit’s Blair Palmer wrote a piece in the Huffington Post on the development of Wearable Technology in a push to rethink the field with social improvement in mind.
‘You wear it well’: a phrase often used in fashion magazines and song lyrics to denote an expression, demeanor, piece of clothing or accessory that suits the wearer.
What if ‘wearing it well’ meant that you could create true social impact? What if wearable technology could mean the difference between life and death in emergency situations where there was no doctor, or could help track vital signs, nutrition and healthcare monitoring for those children who do not have access to regular care? Does wearable technology have the potential to save lives in resource-constrained or last mile settings?
Wearable technology for social impact was the focus of a recent discussion led by UNICEF’s Innovation Unit and frog at Wearable World in San Francisco, the first in a series of conversations around the intersection of high growth technology industries and social good.
A primary takeaway was the need to focus the design of wearable technologies on empowering others with tools – from practitioners to patients – by understanding specific user needs and the context within which they would be used.
The wearable technology industry must think about how they can build off of existing wearable platforms to deliver social good, while leveraging cloud based solutions and optimizing on price and battery life.
The rapid uptake of mobile phones in emerging markets shows that rapid technology adoption and leap-frogging is possible. The time is ripe for the wearable technology industry to expand the user profiles and use cases for these technologies beyond fitness. We encourage companies and thought leaders in the space to examine the social impact of their products and think about last mile solutions when developing new tools. Wear it well? We think you can ‘wear it better’.
Live stream of the event can be found here.