I read a very well written article on this subject by Phillip Torrone on the blog for MAKE Magazine.
Wearable electronics is something I’ve been wanting for a long time and I daresay I’m not alone. Sure, laptops, netbooks, and iPads are all great, but how much easier…not to mention elegant and aesthetically pleasing…would it be to have the computer be a part of your clothing? Or at the very least, be something that you merely attach to your personage like we used to do with watches or with cell phones that clipped to your belt. No lugging cases or even bags around that end up getting left in taxis, trains, or restaurants.
Torrone correctly begins the article linked above by citing the work of Steve Mann. Mann is a tech designer who has been on the vanguard of wearable electronics for quite some time. Since 1980 if the humorous photographs in the article are accurate. I say “humorous” only because that is the sensation the early photos evoke, much the same sort of reaction one gets from seeing a brick-sized cell phone or a 5.25 floppy disk. At that time, however, it was state-of-the-art and Mann had started to lay important foundations for his later achievements. Mann has even been called “the first cyborg” due to his innovations.
That work is now beginning to translate into things we will soon view as common. How revolutionary was a Bluetooth headset just a few years ago? Now it’s seen as just a wearable phone that can now play music. Tiny video cameras can be as wearable as glasses, recording everything you see and experience. This is great for someone such as myself whose organic memory grows more strained by the day. I’ll grant you that such camera glasses could be employed towards nefarious ends but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater just yet, okay? There’s even such a device as a “search engine belt buckle.”
Personally, I love the idea of having a computer with me wherever I go. I like even more the idea of it being something that is worn and not lugged around in a bulky case. Why stop there? I long for the day when the computer can be cybernetically implanted into the brain or even through just a socket on the neck or head. I doubt I’ll live to see that day but I’ll soon have other options available, even if they are less glamorous than such a total infusion.
So what will be the fashions of the coming years? I see a lot of metal and LEDs.
Though there are those who might call it all futilitarian.
Sorry. I just liked the word.
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