Sustainable Living: Impact of Wearable Devices
Nowadays, wearable devices have become a prominent part in human lives. These devices are often called as extended part of human body. Applications of wearable devices have a positive impact on the improvement of quality of life with a value of sustainability. However, wearable devices are continuously evolving influencing
FIGURE 4.7a Wearable devices taxonomy.
FIGURE 4.7b Wearable devices taxonomy under wrist worn category.
FIGURE 4.7c Wearable devices taxonomy under head mounted category.
human lives and environment. Wearable devices will evolve from collecting simple physical activities or biometric data to improve the quality of life and influence all aspects of human life. Therefore, sustainability plays a vital role in the evolution and growth of wearable devices due to numerous reasons. First, wearable devices must be socially acceptable by the humans. Second, wearable devices must be economically feasible in terms of production and consumption. Lastly, but not least, wearable devices must not pose adverse effects on our environment. Therefore, we can diversify the sustainability aspects of wearable devices in three categories: social
FIGURE 4.7d Wearable devices taxonomy under e-textile category.
(consisting of humans, consumers, etc.), economic (consisting of production feasibility and consumption affordability), and environmental (consisting of our ecosystem). Figure 4.8 shows the convergence of these three sustainability aspects for wearable devices.
Sustaining Quality of Life
Wearable devices play an important role in sustaining quality of life. As shown in Figure 4.8, convergence of all three aspects of sustainability must be performed in order to improve quality of life, preserving ecosystem and economic development of all sectors of human lives. However, there are sustainability challenges in the path of this convergence. These challenges must be addressed and resolved considering the sustainability aspects and their convergence for improving quality of human lives. The sustainability challenges of wearable devices may include
FIGURE 4.7e Wearable devices taxonomy under e-patches category.
FIGURE 4.8 Convergence of sustainability aspects for wearable devices.
- • Inadequate recycling process creating difficulty in e-waste management.
- • Social acceptance is complicated due to privacy issues.
- • Cultural differences across the globe.
- • Security of plenty of data may pose new threats coming every day.
- • Users’ changing needs and requirements.
Sustainable Living: A User Centric Approach
Based on the sustainability aspects of wearable devices as shown in Figure 4.8, the challenges mentioned above can be resolved to an extent. However, wearable devices can have a disruptive influence on current consumption trend. Consumption of new products becomes less by increasing the product lifespan. To achieve increased product lifespan, durable materials should be used, and awareness of knowledge for correct maintenance and cleaning practices should be brought to focus. This approach also helps in e-waste management. As quoted by -Kristi Kuusk (2016), “When an already existing product removes the need to buy a new one, the biggest sustainability benefit to the environment is realized” .
Another challenge is user’s changing desires and requirements. An alternative solution is to produce adaptable and multi-functional products that can be changed and modified according to the circumstances, usage, and user preferences. For example, color, shape, and temperature-changing materials with self-maintenance functions should be introduced to meet the dynamic requirements of the user. The approach to resolve this challenge is to enhance the emotional attachment between the user and wearable device. By increasing the emotional attachment to a specific device, it is expected to have a longer lifetime. However, this is more complicated to comply. To achieve a stronger attachment, the device has to integrate with the personal taste of the users such as user’s values, lifestyle, identity construction, personal memories, and aesthetic requirements. A higher degree of personalization or customization is required to increase the user’s emotional attachment. This approach is most suitable in increasing sustainability of wearable devices. The importance of increased emotional attachment between the user and wearable device is listed as follows:
- • Increased quality of human life.
- • User centric sustainability of wearable devices.
- • Emotional attachment brings more ownership and personal belongingness.
- • Need of unwanted product purchase by the users will reduce, hence improving e-waste management.
- • Retention of wearable devices from one generation to another can preserve cultural heritage.
Lastly, sustainability effects of wearable devices are based on user behavior and interaction of user with the device. Despite the highest sustainability standards and design modifications of the devices, it is the users’ dynamic preferences or decisions that can counter these effects. With personalized product designs, many drawbacks can be avoided; however, the resulting user behavior can never be fully controlled.