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From Chastity Belts to Google Glass: Wearable Tech Through the Ages (A Time Line)

The tumultuous history of wearable tech, from its low points to its high points. Plus, the future gadgets you'll be seeing soon.


If there's one trend everyone can agree on, it's that wearable tech is the future. According to a report released within days of the 2014 Consumer Electronic Show, the wearable-tech market is expected to hit $5.8 billion in revenue by 2018, up from $750 million in 2012. The growing fervor is spurring companies big and small—and far more fashionable than in years past—to develop new whiz-bang products, from META Pro's holographic interface glasses (coming this July) to LG's Lifeband Touch activity tracker (coming even sooner).

But as new as wearable tech seems, humans have been marrying technology with clothing and accessories for centuries. Below, a tour of devices past, present, and future that qualify as wearable tech—even if the science behind them hasn't always been based on zeroes and ones.

1266: Eyeglasses
It's hard to pin down the exact year that eyeglasses were invented, as historians believe they more or less evolved from various kinds of lenses used around the globe. But most credit English philospher, Franciscan friar, and proto-tech-entrepreneur Roger Bacon with laying out the principles of modern spectacles. In 1266, Bacon published Opus Majus (pictured), a sprawling work about everything from physics to morals. In part five, which is all about optics, Bacon describes how corrective lenses work and how they can assist those afflicted with "weakness of sight."

Slide 1, 6, 14: Photos courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Slide 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 18: Getty Images. Slide 5, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17: respective brands. Slide 13: by Laura Delarato.
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