The Weird World Of Wearable Tech: 9 Of The Most Unusual Wearables
By Nicholas Greene, The Coolist, 11 August 2014.
By Nicholas Greene, The Coolist, 11 August 2014.
There was a time when our clothes and accessories were just that - they served little function aside from style. Thanks to a little phenomenon known as The Internet of Things, that is no longer the case. Everything around us is connected; everything from our appliances to our eating utensils right down to our clothing is getting ‘smarter.’ We’re now in the weird world of wearable tech, and with each month that passes, new unusual wearable tech products are arriving on the market.
This world of wearable tech has produced some incredibly unusual inventions. While many of them are undeniably useful, fascinating, and downright cool, others are…a little more bewildering - as in, one wonders how they ever got made at all. Today, we’re going to take a close look at the weird world of wearable tech. Here are some of the most mind-boggling, bizarre, and absurd gadgets you can put on your person.
1. Nestle’s Tweeting Bra Raises Breast Cancer Awareness in 140 Characters
One in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. How devastating and deadly the disease ends up being can directly correlate with how early it’s discovered. In many cases, early detection can end up saving a woman’s life, if not her chest. For that reason, it’s extremely important that one remembers to examine oneself for any irregularities, in addition to paying regular visits to a registered physician. Unfortunately, a lot of women end up forgetting about the first one - meaning they’re opening themselves up to a rather deadly risk.
Nestle thinks it has the answer, in the form of the Tweeting Bra. How it works is simple: whenever it’s unhooked, it sends a tweet; something along the lines of “Maria has just unhooked her bra. When you do the same, don’t forget about your self-exam.” That’s…interesting, right?
2. The Hovding Cycling Airbag Might Make Bike Helmets Obsolete
Depending where in the world one lives, being a cyclist can be a rather dangerous prospect. The problem is that if you wipe out, there’s nothing between you and the ground. With Hovding, that’s no longer the case. It’s a wearable airbag that springs to life to protect the wearer’s head, neck, and shoulders in the event of an accident - it’s often more effective than a traditional helmet in the case of the former. The device contains internal sensors which detect a crash based on data gathered from thousands of simulated cycling accidents. It’s equipped with an external shell that allows the wearer to change its appearance, and it’s designed so as not to restrict one’s movement. [More images]
3. Ringly Ensures You’ll Never Miss Another Call
We’ve covered Ringly before on The Coolist, so we’ll keep this one brief: it’s a ‘smart ring’ which connects up to your phone and notifies you whenever you have a phone call or text message. To be honest, it’s probably one of the less-unusual items on the list; a lot of women tend to stash their phone in their purse, where they might not always hear it ring or vibrate. Ringly directly addresses that problem: whenever a message is received or an alarm goes off, the ring can be configured to flash, change colour, vibrate, or all of the above. The only question is whether or not it’s worth the purchase - after all, most calls aren’t so urgent that they need to be taken the second they arrive. [More images]
4. The Ritot Watch Tells Time on the Back Of Your Hand
Ritot is a new piece of technology known as a projection watch. Resembling a simple sports bracelet, a simple tap or shake of one’s hand will cause the device’s internal pico projector to spring to life, projecting the time onto the back of the wearer’s hand. It can also be synced with a smartphone to display details such as text messages, caller ID, weather alerts, social media alerts, and emails. Definitely more on the ‘cool but unusual’ side of things than the ‘head-scratchingly bizarre.’ [More images]
5. Diffus Is A Dress That Informs Its Wearer of Harmful Pollutants
Pollution is a major problem in many urban centres, to the point that there are some cities which seem bathed in perpetual smog. Understandably, this is an extreme health risk - pollution has been linked to a great many health problems, up to and including cancer. The Diffus Climate Dress might be the first step towards avoiding locales in which there exists severe pollution. The dress contains sensors which measure the Carbon Dioxide concentration in the air. Depending on how much CO2 there is, it’ll activate LEDS woven into the fabric, creating a light show that ranges from slow to hectic and chaotic. Far more than a tool for detecting unsafe air conditions, Diffus could be the first of a new line of ‘smart textiles.’ [More images]
6. Stealth Wear Blocks Security Cameras and Mobile Tracking
It’s been said that we’re living in an age of constant surveillance - that most of us are watched in one way or another during our every waking hour. Whether or not that’s true, this culture of paranoia has led to the invention of a new line of clothing known as Stealth Wear. Purported as a fashion that explores the “aesthetics of privacy,” Stealth Wear is designed out of reflective material which makes the wearer effectively invisible to surveillance drones. The clothing line also contains something known as an “off pocket,” which allows the user to instantly cut off their cell phone’s signal.
7. X.pose Will Test Just How Much You’re Willing To Share Online (And Off)
Designed by graduate student Xuedi Chen and collaborator Pedro Oliveri, the 3D-printed X.pose dress is a garment which automatically changes from opaque to transparent as data is shared. It’s sort of a similar idea to INTIMACY 2.0, save that it reveals the wearer based on how much data they share online. The more data the wearer shares, the more exposed they become - literally. What that means is that if they share too much, they’ll basically end up being nearly nude.
Unsurprisingly, the product has a rather sobering tagline connected with it: “In the digital realm, we are naked all the time.” [More images]
8. With Like-A-Hug, Your Friends Will Hug You Whenever They “Like” Something On Facebook
Although social media has certainly brought us closer together, it’s also somewhat isolating. An online discussion is nowhere near as good as the real thing, and a ‘like’ rings hollow compared to genuine congratulations. Apparently, MIT thought this a problem worth addressing. In the process of exploring shape display, a team of researchers from the institution crafted the experimental “Like-A-Hug vest.” It’s essentially exactly as it sounds - whenever the wearer receives a “like” on Facebook, the vest constricts to emulate a hug.
9. The Daredroid Wearable Robot Makes A Mean Cocktail - If You’re Willing To Play A Game First
Daredroid may well be one of the most unusual items on the list - a dress which combines medical technology, customized, robotic hardware, and a human host into one piece of clothing. The purpose? To provide people “with a cocktail in exchange for a game of truth or dare.” The dress is designed to respond to proximity - if anyone gets too close, the robot will simply shut down and refuse to dispense a drink. If the user remains outside of the wearer’s personal bubble, it’ll dispense juice, which will then be transformed into a cocktail depending on whether or not the user plays a touchscreen-based game of Truth or Dare.
Slowly but surely, we’re being transformed into cyborgs. Thanks to the prevalence of the Internet of Things, everything around us is getting smarter - and that includes our clothing. Today, we’ve got a combination of the useful and the downright bizarre - but who knows what the future holds? There’s only one certainty here: before much longer, our clothes are going to be far more than just fashion.
Top image: Diffus Climate Dress, via The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
[Source: The Coolist. Edited. Top image and some links added.]