Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wearing your CPU on your sleeve

Admittedly, carrying my cell phone is a bit cumbersome.  I don't have a belt clip for it, so I carry it in my front pocket.  It sits there like a miniaturized brick, knocking me in the thigh whenever I move or slipping from my pocket unawares to me. 
I could do something about this, but I don't.  And why should I?  Thanks to designers and entrepreneurs like CuteCircuit, I won't have to.  Imagine your cell phone, your MP3 player, your digital camera, and your laptop all integrated into the clothes that you're wearing?  No more bulky, block-y, or unsightly bulges.  No more fishing around to see which pocket you left your Blackberry in.  No more mobile devices falling out and being left behind in a taxi cab. 
CuteCircuit already has two prototypes in the works for just this sort of thing, but unfortunately for us guys they're both dresses (no offense to any of you men out there who enjoy wearing dresses.  Whatever you're into, y'know?) 
The "M-Dress" comes with a cell phone already built into the material.   The antennae is sewn in the hem and the SIM card and activation button are on the on the dress label.  
The other garment has already seen a bit of wear amongst the trendier celebs.  It's called the "Galaxy Dress" and it is pictured here, the photo being from the BBC and property of CuteCircuit.  The dress is composed of 24,000 LEDs, all powered through watch batteries sewn into the dress label.  Looking at the photo, I am reminded of something U2 did on their Vertigo 2005 Tour.  The band had vast curtains of these LED beads that would drop down behind or in front of them from time to time, displaying simple images.  Could a dress or other fashion design do the same?  I don't see why not.  The LEDs could change color, display different shapes or expressions depending upon mood or context.  Malleable art.  We could even all get corporate sponsorship to broadcast logos on our persons.  The age of "wearable technology" has arrived.
Well, maybe not so fast.  All of the tech devices proposed for these new fashions will of course require a power source.  That means new developments will have to take place in batteries and chargers before any of this is feasible.  The attachment of solar panels is one option being tossed about at this time.  And in rereading that last sentence, I realized how silly portions of this sound.  I'm trying hard not to picture a bitchy, Euro, supermodel vixen doing turns on the runway while boasting Skylab-size solar panels from her back or shoulders.
Additionally, I don't know how excited about this I really am.  While I cackle like a giddy and gleeful schoolgirl at the notion of a flexible computer integrated into my clothes that can access the Internet from anywhere, I'm quite hesitant to proclaim that this is where the future lies.  "Wearable technology" may have it's time and like most things in art and fashion it could depend on how many celebrities in the cult of personality are seen wearing it, but it is the full integration of tech into the human body itself that will be truly revolutionary.  Why depend on a computer in your jacket when you can have one in your head to access the Net?  A long way from that for sure, but it will change humanity far more than a passing fashion will.

This just occurred to me: how would one do laundry with wearable technology?

Now playing: Talking Heads, "Heaven"

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