Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists

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Wearable Technologies coming to some clothing near you

Tuesday 17 March 2009

A few years ago whilst researching and generating ideas for the National Geographic Channel's futures based TV shows 'Future Matters' I discussed the idea of what I then called 'WEs' or Wearable Electronics. I mentioned that this was a substantially different approach than portable electronics, which is what most mobile phones and laptop computers were at that stage - useful electronic devices that you could carry around with you to perform a series of functions. WEs were embedded into your clothing, they quite literally became a part of what you were. And now it seems that MIT have taken a giant step towards creating the world's first truly embedded wearable technology as showcased at TED recently

They've dubbed it a 'sixth sense' style of unit and as you can see in the link below, it provides a level of functionality and automatic data engagement that is fast and impulse like.  This differs substantially from mobile phones that enable you to provide access to information provided you deliberately apply them to that purpose.  The MIT unit is, well light years ahead by comparison.

As someone who hasn't been tied to a mobile phone of any description for the best part of 6 years, this is the type of unit that might get me to re-engage with the disruptiveness of mobile phone technology.

Pattie Maes' from MIT, provides the presentation, giving a great wrap to her student Pranav Mistry (someone whose brain I'd very much like to meet) who devised the current model.  The unit combines a projector, phone, camera and mirror and brings my thinking of WE's much closer to reality. 

I think that the 'Sixth Sense' metaphor might actually do this technology a disservice.  To me it is more about 'extended consciousness' - something that can finally break the neural limitations as cited in Miller's ground breaking paper 'The magical number 7 (+ or - 2)' which showed how for most people, the most amount of conscious information we can hold is seven, plus or minus two pieces of information.  This has the potential to rapidly speed up and have available to us, far greater volumes of potential useful and important information right before our eyes.

You can watch the presentation here at this link


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