It is that time of the year again! Gearing up for my major project and dissertation I wrote this little piece defining my area of interest. Wearable technologies and ‘trans-humanism’ has always interested me, hence the decision to focus on the subject. Though I do not know yet what the final project is going to be, I think am treading towards it … slowly.
Not so long ago, when Nicole Scherzinger wore the Twitter dress to an event, the world stood up and took notice. In this spirit of fashion and technology Vera Wang designed Bioluminescent Couture, a collection inspired by luminescent jellyfish, using custom electroluminescence panels on dresses. The CO2 sensing climate dress by InfraBodies is also a good example to illustrate environmental concepts through science and fashion.
Is science the new black?
Technology is no more for the science savvy geeks but for the party hopping, fashion loving, ‘cool’ gangs. But the question arises, in this age when a mobile device, laptop or a tablet is an extension of our selves, does a sci-fi fabric make the cut? Wearable technology is not restricted to fabrics and devices. It has made it’s foray into our everyday lives, into our bodies. The Nike Fuel band, Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Pebble smart watch. You name it and we’ve adopted science in every sense of the way. Researchers at Fabrica have developed an accessory to control thoughts via neuro-imaging. Though the technology is currently being researched and developed, it aims to read and record the thoughts of people and detect ill intentions before they are carried out. Materials scientist John Rogers has developed flexible electronic circuits that stick directly to the skin [like temporary tattoos] and monitor the user’s health. London designer Shamees Aden’s Protocells trainer is a project in progress. A 3D-printed trainer to the exact size of the user’s foot that would fit like a second skin. It would react to pressure and movement created when running, puffing up to provide extra cushioning where required.
That brings me to the question, what is it that makes us give up natural control and make us want to handover gears to technology?
Are we naturally technology dependent?
A study on wearable technology from the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London, found that 71% Americans and 63% Brits said that wearable tech has ‘improved’ their health and fitness. As scary as it might be, according to a research conducted at Stanford University, people are 26% more active when they’re being monitored. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains that human beings are intuitive statisticians. “We are unable to accurately interpret experience as data.” Technology on the other hand quantifies data and promises to transform our understanding of ourselves.
The answer to how far we trust our devices maybe lies in their interaction. As Cory Booth, a Human Factors Engineer in Intel’s User Experience Group puts it, the future may lie in designing devices and experiences that seamlessly fit into the fabric of people’s lives. In the co-evolution of human and machine, singularity of the entities is of utmost importance. Whether tracking daily activities, providing us with cohesive information or controlling other connected electronics in our lives, complex sensors and micro-displays have become our way of life. We’re stepping into the realm of the cyborg.
In the words of Neil Harbisson, “Life will be much more exciting when we stop creating applications for mobile phones and we start creating applications for our own body.”
But before we become cyborgs, we have to get comfortable with the idea of wearable technology. Smart glasses, wearable computers and skin-mounted sensors will soon replace that cell phone, Swiss watch or a wool coat.
image credit: businessnewsdaily.com