The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 saw an onslaught of wearable technology, a phenomenon still in its infancy, and critics were quick to load their rifles and fire away.
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Thanks to fashion, people don’t have to speak to communicate character. Christian Louboutin saw heels as a sign of feminine power—”The higher, the better”—while Coco Chanel said that the dress made the woman: “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” Miuccia Prada summed it up in four words: “Fashion is instant language.”
In the case of wearable technology, the fashion-conscious seem to agree that the only thing it screams is: “Hello, I am a card-carrying member of Silicon Valley.” A modern version of the bullied high school geek. This, to the Louboutin/Chanel/Prada-wearing elite, easily translates to one thing: social suicide.
The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 saw an onslaught of wearable technology, a phenomenon still in its infancy, and critics were quick to load their rifles and fire away. Many complained about wearable tech not being wearable. Did engineers not realize that Robocop-like glasses were not okay?
Fashionistas do, however, recognize the potential of wearable tech. During the 2012 New York Fashion Week, Diane von Furstenberg put her models, her entourage, and herself, in Google Glasses. The collaboration captured the frenzy of Fashion Week from a new perspective. DVF’s fashion friends reportedly tried the glasses on, after. In a statement released then, DVF said, “Beauty, style and comfort are as important to Glass as the latest technology. We are delighted to bring Glass to the runway together with DVF.”
Fast forward to two fashion weeks and tens of thousands of Glass-free ramp models later, FitBit, Inc. announced that Tory Burch would be joining their camp. In a statement released during the CES 2014, FitBit, the company behind the connected health-and-fitness rubber wrist bands, declared “a relationship with Tory Burch to develop a collection of stylish accessory wristbands and necklaces for FitBit Flex.” The Tory Burch for FitBit accessories collection will include pendants, bracelets and wristbands designed to hold the FitBit Flex tracker, transforming the activity tracker into a “super-chic accessory” for work or weekend, day or evening. The collection arrives in spring.
Until then, consumers are left to connect the dots that remain from CES 2014, and the number of dots to connect is large. Aside from eyewear and fitness bands, there are also enough items in the wardrobe of the future—tech wigs, bras, and dresses—to cover a person from head to toe.
#smartwig #new #fun
For the top of head, Sony Corp., the people behind the iconic Walkman which started the portable music revolution, has come up with the “SmartWig.”
Its official description says “wearable computing device, comprising a wig that is adapted to cover at least a part of the head of a user, at least one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit that is coupled to at least one sensor for processing said input data, and a communication interface that is coupled to the processing unit for communicating with a second computing device. At least one sensor, the processing unit and the communication interface are arranged in the wig and at least partly covered by the wig in order to be visually hidden during use.”
Essentially, they are hairpieces made from horse hair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or any kind of synthetic hair. The wigs are also intelligent, which means they can help navigate roads, detect human information such as temperature or sweat, and present a PowerPoint slideshow. In a phone interview by Bloomberg, a Sony spokeswoman described the wig as “new and fun.”
#smartbra #foodmood #fitspiration
From the crowning glory to inner wear, Microsoft researchers focus on the bra. The prototype of the Microsoft smart bra senses heart and skin activity that indicate mood levels, but its primary aim is to find out if wearable tech can help stress-related over-eating.
In their paper “Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating,” the researchers explain that the design motivation for the bra sensing system was driven by a form factor that would be comfortable for long durations and close to the heart. Considering the variety of cup sizes, the researchers decided against embedded sensor bras and aimed instead for conducive pads that could be inserted and removed. Based on their research, positive results for emotion detection arose from the wearable system. A smart phone app connected to the brassiere alerted the wearer when “emotional eating” was likely to occur.
#dress #sweater #eyecatching
A little less private than the bra is a mood sweater whose collar lights up according to the wearer’s mood. The GER: Galvanic Extimacy Responder promotes what the makers call “extimacy” or externalized intimacy. The sensors are located on the hands and read excitement levels, “like a classic lie detector test,” that are translated into a palette of colors. The mood it expresses are tranquil (turquoise), calm (blue), ruffled or aroused (purple), nervous or in love (red) and nirvana (white).
The style of the sweater, whose lighting system is located around the larynx, aims to replace speaking, as the wearer’s “truths” are instantly expressed with color.
On the topic of visual interfaces, people can be so conscious about their appearance, but this dress feasts on attention. Fashion designer Ying Gao designs gaze-activated dresses: dresses that writhe and light up when someone stares at them. It uses an eye-tracking system so that dresses move when someone is staring.
According to Ying Gao, the project was inspired by the essay entitled “Esthétique de la disparition” (The aesthetic of disappearance), by French cultural theorist Paul Virilio (1979): “Absence lasts but a few seconds, its beginning and end are sudden. However closed to outside impressions, the senses are awake. The return is as immediate as the departure, the suspended word or movement is picked up where it was left off as conscious time automatically reconstructs itself, thus becoming continuous and free of any apparent interruption.”
#gpsshoes #wanderlust #direction
The feet have not escaped the wearable computing phenomenon either. Inspired by Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Dominic Wilcox’s “No place like home GPS shoes” are outfitted with global positioning microchips. Clicking the heels can literally light the way toward the wearer’s chosen destination.
The destination is uploaded through a USB port. The LED lights on the toe of the left shoe point to the desired direction while the tip of the right shoe provides a reading. On the topic of home, another type of GPS in-built tracking shoes has gone on sale in the UK. This type of shoe is specific to Alzheimer’s sufferers, who often wander off when they get disoriented. The tracking device sends a signal to the satellite and is relayed to a relative’s smart phone or computer.
#accessories #makeup #everythingelse
Neither does wearable tech end with clothes, shoes, wigs. Accessories include more bangles, including the Embrace+ that shows smart phone notifications and a Rebecca Minkoff-Stellé Audio Couture limited edition audio clutch that is an edgy purse on the exterior and an audio speaker in the interior. Man’s best friend is also feted with a smart collar like the Voyce, a health and activity tracking collar designed to be worn by dogs. It measures both heart and respiratory rates, accompanied by a mobile app that tracks trends over time, allowing owners to keep an eye on vital signs and other health indicators. Cosmetics has also been tapped. Computer scientist Katia Vega has ventured into designing smart faux fingernails and lashes. Wearers can change the channel by blinking their eyes, or use their fingers to open doors.
#beautytechnology #thefutureorthenow #fashionandsociety
Ms. Vega believes that wearable tech is not the future of fashion, it is the now. “I think this revolution is already happening,” she wrote in an e-mail to High Life. “Wearable Computing had changed the way individuals interact with computers, intertwining natural capabilities of the human body with processing apparatus.” She thinks, however, that fashion must make peace with inventors. “Wearable computers give us the possibility to play with the body, know ourselves and expose and communicate our feelings,” she said. While the fashion and tech industries have yet to completely compromise, the revolution is here and it is a reflection of the changing face of our generation. Huge investments made by startups and big companies alike indicate that wearable tech is #thenextbigthing, never mind what fashion critics say.