Friday, 17 January 2014

Wearable Tech: The Age of Cool and Crazy but Companionless?

We’re heading into an age of wearable tech (see CES, a showcase on consumer electronics). If for some reason you still haven't heard of it, think USB necklaces, phone-charging bracelets, vibrating pants, GPS jackets, etc. Think Bond, James Bond. Wearable tech is technology that you can wear - hopefully fashionably. While it's a task in itself to design tech that can be worn on a person and is mobile all day, every day; it's even more cumbersome to make this technology fashionable, discrete and invisible.

As engineers and designers continue to collaborate to create items that will fill our lives in the near future, it's a clear sign that life is about to get busier. Who has time to call home and ask someone to turn off the dishwasher, just text your dishwasher to stop or repeat a cycle. Why ask a stranger for directions, instead wireless waves will tap you on the shoulder. Why waste time in a doctor's office around strangers, instead have an e-visit.

Yes, technology can and does make life more efficient, things happen much quicker and days go by much faster, but what's to say of how it will continue to shape our human interactive relationships with each other.

What's the impact wearable technology will have on relationships?
Instead of meeting up with people, we began to pick up the phone, and now we simply send out a 140 character message. When's the last time you laughed while typing out 'lol'? Why indulge in foreplay when I already caused your pants to vibrate at the bar for 20 minutes? Will we have more less-deeper connections? Or will be have cooler gadgets that will give us more in common to talk about? Will this create more ways for different groups to connect - like the vibrating pants club? Maybe tech is our way to connect now but don't forget to push forward for a more human connection - blog/post/click/like/share/snapchat/instagram your thoughts but also talk to your friends about it. 

People seem to be more connected yet less connected. Gadgets are cool, they make things previously impossible or too difficult, quick and easy. Hello, wearable medical gadgets, rather than being confined to a bed. And while quick and easy is great for some things - okay, maybe most things - it's not great for everything.No thank, food that can be consumed only in a pill form.

Once it becomes fashionable, it's made for the masses (see link on Barneys New York and CDFA's plans for collaboration with Intel). Fashion and tech will unite to affect our lives, as they always have. But when you wear a piece, don't forget to share it. Don't forget interpersonal connections. The increase in tech devices has increased everyone's number of acquaintances, but it's up to each individual to maintain if not increase their number of real friends.

Wearable tech means we'll be multi-tasking more often. Shoes that have an LED twitter feed will encourage wearers to tweet more at clubs (rather than enjoy the experience and interact with people?) and therefore to not just hold a drink, take a selfie, smile at the cute bartender but also to share it with the world. Aren't we already doing that? Yes, but if your shoes show you a constant twitter feed, aren't you constantly staring at it, reading people's tweets and feeling the urge to post?

Wearable tech would achieve its greatness in continuing to increase personal efficiency, being fashionable but also bringing people together. So far it's a sign that life's about to get busier and edgier, but hopefully not lonelier.

Upcoming event: Wearable Tech Expo

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