A complete history of wearable technology: A timeline [Updated]

The rise of wearable technology has transformed how we interact with the world, making it an integral part of our daily lives. With advancements in 5G networks, electronic chips, GPS systems, sensors, and nanotechnology, wearables are poised to enhance human capabilities, leading to the concept of “augmented humans” or “humans 2.0.” These devices, embedded in consumer electronics, accessories, and clothing, collect data, track activities, and customize experiences to meet users’ needs.

While wearable technology may seem modern, its history spans centuries, influencing fields from healthcare to the military before becoming mainstream. This timeline explores the significant milestones in the development of wearable technology.

Early Innovations in Wearable Technology

1286: The Invention of Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses, the earliest wearable technology, were invented around 1286 in Italy. Salvino D’Armate, a Florentine, is often credited with this invention, although definitive proof is lacking. These early eyeglasses were designed to help individuals with myopia see distant objects.

1510 – Marine Chronometer Pocket Watch

The history of portable timekeeping began with the “Nuremberg Egg,” a precursor to the pocket watch, invented in the early 15th century. Nuremberg clockmaker Peter Henlein created ornamental timepieces worn as pendants, marking the start of wearable timekeeping devices.

1644 – The Abacus Ring

During the Chinese Qing dynasty, mathematician Cheng Dawei invented the abacus ring, a ring-shaped counting tool. This wearable device allowed traders to perform quick calculations, showcasing the early integration of technology into everyday objects.

19th and 20th Century Advances

1907 – Wearable Camera

Julius Neubronner, a pioneer in photography, developed the first wearable camera in 1907 for pigeon photography. This lightweight camera had a pneumatic timing mechanism to activate the shutter at set intervals, capturing aerial images.

1961 – Wearable Computer

Noted mathematicians Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon built a series of cigarette pack sized analog devices to predict roulette outcomes, using a predictive algorithm in 1960. They successfully predicted zones into which the ball would come to a rest, by measuring the speed of the wheel’s rotation, the speed of the ball, and its rate of decay. The final operating version was tested in Shannon’s basement home lab in June of 1961.

1975 – Pulsar Calculator Wrist Watch

1975, Time Computer Inc. released the Hamilton Pulsar, the first digital watch. It was available in gold and stainless steel and included a stylus for operating tiny calculator keys, combining timekeeping with computation.

1977 – HP-01 Algebraic Calculator Watch

Hewlett-Packard’s HP-01, introduced in 1977, was a sophisticated calculator watch. With 28 tiny keys performing over three dozen mathematical functions, it became a sought-after electronic collectible, enhancing personal computation.

1979 – Sony Walkman

Sony revolutionized music listening with the Walkman in 1979. This portable cassette player, equipped with headphones and a built-in mic input, sold 200 million units, changing personal entertainment forever.

1987 – Phoenix Digital Hearing Aid

The Nicolet Corporation’s Phoenix, launched in 1987, was the first commercial digital hearing aid. Though not commercially successful, it paved the way for future advancements in digital hearing aids.

The Digital Age of Wearables

1999 – BlackBerry 850

The BlackBerry 850 was a pioneering wireless device released in 1999 by Research In Motion (RIM). It connected users to their corporate email, featuring messaging, calendars, address books, and more.

2000 – Bluetooth Headset

The first consumer Bluetooth device launched in 2000, and Ericsson T36 was the first Bluetooth mobile phone. However, it was the updated T39 model, which actually made it to stores in 2001. This hands-free wireless technology operates at frequencies between 2402 and 2480 MHz, or 2400 and 2483.5 MHz.

2003: The Garmin Forerunner

In 2003, Garmin introduced the Forerunner, a watch that tracks user performance. This device marked a significant advancement in fitness wearables, integrating GPS technology.

2004 – Microsoft SPOT Smartwatch

Microsoft’s SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) smartwatch, released in 2004, was the first connected smartwatch. Despite its commercial failure, it highlighted the potential for integrating technology into everyday accessories.

2007: RFID and Smart Gloves

Researchers developed wearable RFID systems and devices like the iGlove in 2007, showcasing the integration of RFID technology into wearable interfaces and enhancing interactive experiences.

2014 – Google Glass

Google Glass, unveiled in 2012 and available to the public in 2014, was an optical head-mounted display providing hands-free access to smartphone-like information. Despite privacy concerns, it demonstrated the potential of augmented reality.

2016 – Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset released in 2016 by Oculus VR, offered immersive gaming and media experiences. Although discontinued in 2019, it paved the way for future VR developments.

Recent Developments (2016-2024)

2017: Apple Watch Series 3

In 2017, Apple released the Apple Watch Series 3, featuring cellular connectivity for the first time. This advancement allowed users to make calls, send texts, and stream music without needing a nearby iPhone, further integrating wearables into everyday life.

2018: Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa, launched in 2018, was a significant step forward for fitness wearables. It combines health tracking with smartwatch features, offering insights into sleep patterns, heart rate, and overall fitness levels while providing notifications and apps.

2019: Amazon Echo Frames

Amazon introduced the Echo Frames in 2019, integrating its Alexa voice assistant into a pair of eyeglasses. This innovation allowed users to access information, control smart home devices, and stay connected hands-free.

2020: Oura Ring

The Oura Ring gained prominence in 2020 for its advanced health monitoring capabilities. This ring tracked sleep, activity, and physiological metrics accurately, becoming a valuable tool for personal health management.

2021: Google Fitbit Luxe

Google launched the Fitbit Luxe in 2021, a stylish fitness and wellness tracker. Combining aesthetic appeal with health tracking features, the Luxe catered to users seeking fashion and functionality in their wearable devices.

2022: Meta Quest 2

Meta (formerly Facebook) released the Meta Quest 2 in 2022, an advanced VR headset offering immersive experiences in gaming, fitness, and social interactions. This device continued to push the boundaries of virtual reality in the consumer market.

2023: Apple Vision Pro

Apple introduced the Vision Pro in 2023, a mixed-reality headset combining augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). This headset offered new work, entertainment, and communication possibilities, blending the digital and physical worlds seamlessly.

2024: Neurotechnology Wearables

By 2024, advancements in neurotechnology led to the development of wearable brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). These devices, worn as headsets or even integrated into clothing, enabled users to control digital devices and interact with virtual environments using their thoughts, marking a significant leap forward in human-computer interaction.


Wearable technology has evolved significantly over the centuries, from early eyeglasses to advanced virtual reality headsets. Initially impacting fields like healthcare and the military, wearables have become essential in consumer electronics, enhancing our daily lives. As technology advances, the future promises even more innovative and integrated wearable devices, shaping how we interact with the world.