Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'Wearable tech': At what point does it become okay?

Claire Collins is given a demonstration of Optinvent ORA-S augmented reality glasses on Monday at the GLAZED wearable technology conference in San Francisco.

Associated Press

Claire Collins is given a demonstration of Optinvent ORA-S augmented reality glasses on Monday at the GLAZED wearable technology conference in San Francisco.

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October

The Associated Press has another story about what they're now calling "wearable technology" — which national writer Martha Mendoza describes as … well, this:

The digital domain is creeping off our desktops and onto our bodies, from music players that match your tunes to your heart beat, to mood sweaters that change color depending on your emotional state — blue for calm, red for angry. There are vacuum shoes that clean the floor while you walk and fitness bracelets, anklets and necklaces to track your calorie burning.

Some of those things are not like the others.

Mood sweaters and vacuum shoes are way out there, but those "fitness bracelets, anklets and necklaces" are already all around you right now. Wearable technology is also that Bluetooth earpiece you put on and forget is there. Fitbit, Fuel band — those are probably already being worn around your home or office. If you wear your cell phone clipped to your belt, that's well within shouting distance from wearable technology.

Think about it this way: If you have a digital watch, is that futuristic wearable technology that's part of a trend? What if it has a calculator on it? (Remember those?) What if it's a fancy triathlete model? Surely headphones and earbuds are wearable technology, right?

The interesting question isn't whether there's a trend toward wearable technology — pretty much all your personal technology is going to become wearable eventually. You only have so many hands to carry it.

The interesting question is about when that technology becomes socially acceptable. Could you look at someone wearing Google Glass right now without wondering about someone who spent $1,500 to have a conversation with their eyeglasses? (Or whether they just blinked to take your picture?) Do you feel the same way about that coworker wearing the Fitbit? Probably not.

It's the difference between seeing someone wearing something that makes them look creepy, wearing something that just makes them look like they work in IT or wearing something you don't even notice. Is wearable technology "taking off?" Sure, I guess — it has been ever since about 1868. Think instead about what technology you feel comfortable wearing, or feel comfortable seeing the people around you wearing.

Mood sweaters? Seriously?

I'm curious about the vacuum shoes, tho'. You know — just for around the house.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 3:17pm]

    

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