Facts About Wearable Technology

At a glance

  • Most wearable devices include low-powered radiofrequency (RF) transmitters to enable them to communicate with other devices nearby.
  • To be sold in the United States, all such devices must meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) limits for human exposure to RF radiation.
  • Wearable devices expose the user to lower amounts of RF radiation compared to exposure limits.
Woman wearing a smart watch exercising.

The basics

Wearable devices use computers and other advanced technology designed to be worn in clothing or directly against the body. These devices are usually used for entertainment and other tasks like monitoring physical activity.

Wearable technology typically uses low-powered radiofrequency (RF) transmitters to send and receive data from smartphones or the Internet. RF transmitters emit radiowaves, a type of non-ionizing radiation.

Most devices use low-powered Bluetooth technology similar to that used in "hands-free" headsets for cell phones and many other wireless consumer devices. Some devices may use Wi-Fi (wireless internet) or other communication technologies as well.

Examples of wearable technology

Examples of wearable technology include smartwatches and fitness trackers. Other devices could include head-mounted displays and a wide variety of personal health monitors.



RF transmitters in wearable technology expose the user to some very low levels of RF radiation. RF radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation made up of radiowaves.

To be sold in the United States, equipment that transmits RF radiation must meet exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These limits are designed to reduce exposure to RF radiation. Wearable technology considered to be medical equipment, must also be approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While the FCC guidelines were adopted in 1996, they are similar to international guidelines that are presently in effect in many other countries. Wearable devices expose the user to small amounts of RF radiation compared to the international exposure limits set by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection.