The timeline of wearables

You might think that the rise of wearable technology is something that happened a couple of years ago, but it’s actually closer to a thousand. Here, we take a look at some of those defining moments across the last millennia.
Timeline of Wearable IoT devices


1286: First eyeglasses. The original wearable, eyeglasses for vision correction were first made in Italy in around 1286, although the inventor is unknown.


c1644: First smart ring. Containing an abacus – essentially the precursor to the modern day computer – this 17th century Chinese ring can most definitely be considered smart, if not a fashion statement. With nine rows of tiny beads, the user could quickly perform mathematical tasks.


1907: Wearable camera. Invented in 1907 by Julius Neubronner, the first wearable camera wasn’t strapped to adrenaline junkies, but to homing pigeons. With a simple timer mechanism, the camera was used to take a single aerial photograph.



1961: Wearable computer. Mathematicians Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon built a series of somewhat dubious devices to help them cheat at roulette. Various versions were built, usually concealed in shoes or cigarette packets.



1975: Pulsar calculator wristwatch. The first digital watch – the Hamilton Pulsar – was relased in 1972. Three years after this, and costing around $15,000 in today’s money, Pulsar released the very first wrist calculator.



1979: Sony Walkman. Sony pioneered music on-the-move, releasing the first in a huge line of Walkman branded technology in July 1979. Selling for $150, the TPS-L2 changed listening habits forever by allowing users to carry their music with them and listen on lightweight headphones.



1987: Digital hearing aid. Created in 1987 by the Nicolet Corporation, the first digital hearing aid comprised of a body-worn processing unit, hardwired to an ear mounted transducer. It was not a success and the company folded shortly after. Two years later, the hugely popular behind-the-ear digital hearing aid was launched.



1999: BlackBerry. Research In Motion launched its first device – the BlackBerry 850, a two-way pager – in 1999. It wasn’t until 2003 that the first smartphone BlackBerry was released, supporting push email, phone, text, internet and other wireless services.


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