14 Replies Latest reply on Dec 6, 2013 3:02 PM by zengirl2 Branched from an earlier discussion. Branched to a new discussion.

    Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?

    zengirl2

      DAB,

       

      Good to see you again -- I feel like I have a great wizard watching over me.   You bring up a good point about tech producing the clothing vs. tech embedded in the clothing.  Both are very exciting areas right now, and I just met someone at a wearables panel in NY that is working with algorithms to create patterned fabrics.  There are so many ways to plug in now, whether it is the idea, design, production or packaging.  Your examples of the pen and phone gadgets are especially dear to me as I've visited the Spy Museum in Washington, DC.  Chances are, if you've seen it in a movie, it probably has its origins in surveillance!  I can only imagine where that field is headed, and if anyone has seen any interesting devices at a conference, I'm all ears (joke intended).  Well, enjoy the holiday and set the projects aside long enough to have some stuffing.

        • Re: Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?
          zengirl2

          Okay, let’s kick our discussion off with the obvious question:  Why wearable tech?  What’s in it for you? 

           

          You may laugh, but my husband remembers having a Motorola bag phone back in the day.  Having something wireless and portable was seen as an advantage; it was something that improved your life.  Nowadays when people think of products improving their lives, they often refer to qualities such as faster, smarter and easier.  What other qualities come to mind for you?  A wireless phone is a great example, because it is probably the most widely used form of wearable tech, perhaps even replacing the watch.  Yet, when it was born, I’m sure there were naysayers.  Take a look at the history of the cell phone.  How has your phone changed your life?  Are there any negative points?  Right now I only have one friend who has downsized his phone to a prepaid call only variety. I know one of his reasons was cost, but what about the idea of connectivity?  How connected do we want to be?  Do the positives outweigh the negatives?  Last week I learned about a new product https://offpocket.com/ that works as a shield protecting your phone’s privacy.  So, apparently some people prefer deciding for themselves when they are connected.

           

          If you try to look at the history of wearable tech, it's a fuzzy area.  Are we referring to wearable computers, t-shirts that have LED’s, or pacemakers?  One of the more interesting timelines I found on wearable computing lists influences as well as inventions. It makes me wonder what future books on human computer interaction will hold.  The point is, ideas have a beginning, whether they are something fanciful from Ray Bradbury or something scientific from Stephen Hawking. Sometimes it may not be apparent how these ideas are connected, but if we relate them to our lives, we can surely find the answer.  Why are doughnut shops found in gas stations now?  Why have disposable contact lenses?  The answers are much the same for the wearables industry.  The very act of us discussing them may even lead to an idea.  So, let us carry on! 

           

          What do you want from wearable tech?  Are there any inventions that you feel strongly about?  Remember that searching the web has bias, so please do share inventions and products that are overlooked.  Part of the beauty of this forum is that we really represent a slice of the world.

           

          Off Pocket.JPG

          • Re: Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?
            DAB

            Hi Leslie,

             

            Yes, you never can tell when I will see a post and take a peek.

            Plus I like the way your are progressing as a maker.  I have seen your confidence grow a lot in the last few months.

            So I will keep an eye on you and offer help if I can.

             

            DAB


              • Re: Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?
                zengirl2

                Johan,

                 

                Thank you for giving us an example from the Netherlands.  This is such a thoughtful piece, as I can attest that sensors are uncomfortable to the skin since I recently had a heart test.  I can only imagine how plush the fabric feels, and I've heard that premature babies can actually lose their skin just through touching.  So, the choices made here are very critical.  Here in Philadelphia there is someone working with an industrial knitting machine to create embedded sensors for pregnant women. These are both great examples of soft circuits.  At a summer workshop, I got to see stainless fiber being incorporated into felting work so it could be combined with electronics.  Felt is not as soft, but it certainly makes for some fuzzy designs.  Have you tried experimenting with some wearables yourself?

              • Re: Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?
                arachnopod

                Hi everyone,

                 

                Good first entry, Leslie!  Glad to see that the "interesting timelines" page mentions eyeglasses, which have had a nice technological progression to the eyeglasses of today, and on to contact lenses.  I'm surprised that it didn't list Hearing Aides, though, which are certainly in the spirit of it's 2nd entry (1665, Robert Hooke calling for augmented senses).

                 

                I agree with others that the future of wearable technology is wide open, and limited only by imagination, a few ongoing technical issues (e.g., power, safety), and issues of their human-technology interfaces, and how (in)obtrusive they may or may not be.

                 

                My primary interests are in using technology to improve safety (I liked your link in one of your other threads about bicycle helmets), and in moving beyond simply repairing impaired senses (eyeglasses, contacts, hearing aides, etc.) to practical augmented sensory (and perhaps decision-aiding) systems.  My kids are of course most interested in artistic expression through wearables. 

                 

                Looking forward to the discussions over the next couple weeks!

                 

                --ToddM.

                  • Re: Why Wearable Tech? How has it evolved and what's in it for you?
                    zengirl2

                    Todd, I love that you are interested in pursuing safety.  I remember sitting in a mock-up of a car for someone testing heads up displays a long time ago.  Now look where we've come!   In fact, these posts are helping me to remember just how much tech has been influencing me, without me even being aware of it.  It's as if I've been hypnotized to love electronics and code, and I'm actually very happy about it.  Anyway, concerning uses with senses, I'm really struck by someone at my hackerspace engaged on a special mission.  His father has an irreversible disease that will eventually leave him without speech and reduced movement.  Sure, there are many devices out there to help people, but often people cannot afford them and their quality of life suffers dramatically.  This young man has already started recording his father's voice to be placed in software (much like Stephen Hawking).  I was able to hear a quote from a Dr. Seuss book in his father's voice and was quite impressed.  He also is working on a wearable headpiece that will allow his father to use eye movement to do mouse clicks on a laptop.  Like I said, these devices already exist, but they are very expensive and not usually covered by insurance.  It just shows how prime DIY is to solve these issues.  I can't even imagine how thankful his family must be and I'm encouraging him to document his work.  The same for you!  I do hope you share projects you are working on, whether it be something for safety or even your children's art/tech designs.  You never know when someone else may find a use for it.