Chapter 6. Cognitive Wearables

Cognitive wearables are devices that either measure or affect our cognition. They are a part of an emerging and powerful field of technology that is clearly among the most exciting. From a design perspective, there is an incredible opportunity to help people better understand themselves and their lives, and an equally massive risk around mischaracterizing information about something so intimate. This chapter covers the landscape of what’s out there right now in the cognitive space, and the unique opportunities and challenges that come with communicating information about the subconscious mind to the conscious mind.

Fitness Trackers for Your Mind

When I first began hearing about what I now refer to as cognitive wearables, I had a difficult time describing them. I went through a bunch of different names like psychological wearables and mental wearables, but after a while I began calling them subjective wearables because it seemed like what they were measuring or affecting seemed to be subjective. After talking to a few of the people developing the technology and asking them about specific terminology, I began hearing the same thing: these devices are not subjective. Things that I had previously understood to be dependent on personal interpretation, such as stress levels, concentration, and affect, turn out to be not very subjective at all when it comes to measurement. As it turns out, the things that we feel in our minds have very real physical symptoms, ...

Get Designing for Wearables now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.