This is the year of wearable computing. If you weren't aware, that's because it was decided for you. While consumer demand for "wearables" has been pretty tepid, practically every major tech company on the planet is currently trying to get some new computer strapped, buckled, or wrapped around you. They're banking on the idea that these products will be so cool, you'll eventually break down and join the party.
In the long run, they're probably right. Ten years from now, we may not even remember a time when we didn't "need" the latest Android-powered sweater. But until then, it's been an uphill battle for the manufacturers. And we think we know why.
As an example, let's look at the smart watch. You remember what a watch is, right? It's a miniature clock people used to strap around their wrists, to tell time. Kind of like the lock-screen on your iPhone. Well, since the days of Dick Tracy, people have been dreaming of putting computers in wrist-watches. Who could forget the glorious reign of the calculator watch?
Then, in the year 2000, IBM made a watch called the "WatchPad." It allowed you to remotely control your computer, had Blutooth capabilities, and even featured a fingerprint scanner! Sounds pretty hi-tech, even fourteen years later. So how come you never heard about it?
Because it looked like this:
Are you done shuddering? Neither are we. Even if you couldn't see the circuit boards, this thing would be Fugly with a capital F.
It's been a decade and a half since someone thought that plastic atrocity was a good idea, but things have only gotten marginally better. Of all the latest smart watches released in the last year--and there have been a lot of them--most are bulky and awkward looking.
The new Moto 360 watch looks a little better than some of the competition. And that's because, when you're not using it, it just looks... like a big watch.
A watch that looks like a watch. Nice!
Still, these watches look so big and do so little, many prospective buyers may find themselves asking, "What's the point?"
Everyone and their mother is expecting Apple to announce a high-tech, chic smart-watch this fall. If any company can get this product category right, it's probably them. But until the mythical iWatch rears its beautiful head, the tech industry has a problem on its hands:
Most of their "wearables" are, frankly, unwearable.
And it's not just the watches. Google Glass has become something of a punchline over the last year or two, and it hasn't even been released to the public yet. Sure, people are up-in-arms about privacy concerns. But we all know what the real problem is- Google Glass looks ridiculous.
Google knows it. That's why they've teamed up with the company behind Ray-Bans and Oakley sunglasses to develop a better looking product. It's a step in the right direction, but maybe they're missing the point.
For people who love fashion, aesthetic wins over practicality, every time. It's form over function. It's why people wear skirts and high heels during the winter. We choose our outfits in spite of how impractical they may be, because fashion is inherently impractical. If tech companies really want to embrace the world of high fashion, they should start embracing this philosophy.
Luckily, the divide between tech geeks and fashion geeks is getting smaller every day. The people who really get it are out there combining state-of-the-art technology with inspired aesthetics to create some of the most amazing and utterly impractical things you could imagine. Here are a few wearables that represent the direction we'd like to see this fledgling product category head in:
When two of your three middle names are "Mercedes" and "Rainbow," you're probably destined for a life in the arts. Such is the case for Amy Konstanze Mercedes Rainbow Winters, a "new media artist" and the designer of this dynamic dress. The dress changes appearance in reaction to sunlight, water, and sound. It's the perfect outfit for that underwater day party you just got invited to.
Put all your cards on the table with this supremely bizarre concept dress. The dress is called "Intimacy," and it knows when you're aroused. Yep! When it detects that you're getting a little randy, it does what any sentient dress would do-- it becomes transparent. This all but guarantees that you won't be the only horny person in the room. Amen!
Last but not least-
Ever get the feeling that everyone is looking at you? Take out the guesswork with this interactive outfit. The (No)where (Now)here dress actually reacts to the gaze of others. Using eye-tracking technology, it senses when someone is looking at it and then activates tiny motors that move the luminescent dress around, making the fabric "dance" in undulating patterns, putting on a little show for anyone who cares to see.