By Bob Eastwood
The first wearable technology was clothing itself, used by primitive humans to keep warm in the winter, as a disguise for hunting animals and in rituals to appease the gods. Fast forward about a million years… There are now so many wearable devices that there are several offerings in what have become almost trite categories including smart shoes, fitness trackers, wristwatches, glasses, jackets, hats and even jewelry. There is even a Wearable Technology Conference. It will be held this year held in San Francisco and will be hosted in Munich in 2013. Instead of looking at large, cyborg-like gadgets, this post will focus on wearable technology you won’t even notice—well, mostly.
That couple looks fabulous, but he’s talking to himself and her necklace is in her ear!
Yes, adding to the scores of people who already wonder or have actually asked “Are you talking to me?” are new wearable technologies that further obscure the presence of a traditional Bluetooth earpiece and microphone. We now have Bluetooth enabled music-playing hands free phone-answering sunglasses and Bluetooth enabled high-end jewelry.
novero presented their new approach to wearable technologies at the WTshow at CeBIT 2012. First launched in 2010, the company today offers a full range of innovative fashion and jewelry Bluetooth headsets. The result is a variety of jewelry lines that comprise everything from pure gold and silver, to Lapis Lazuli and diamonds, including the very latest in Bluetooth-enabled communications. The jewelry collections capture the beauty of finely crafted jewelry, the ease of hands-free innovation and a willingness to challenge the status quo, while attempting to be the first communication accessory of its kind. As a collection, the Victoria and Victor lines imbue contemporary design and timeless materials with unmatched Bluetooth innovation to deliver more than a hands-free earpiece. On the high-end is novero’s "la première édition" offering custom pieces that are on sale at the world’s most exclusive jewelry stores and can also be customized individually with jewels and precious metals. The "la première édition" collection also features an uber exclusive series of five commissioned pieces fashioned from precious metals and rare jewels valued at more than $120,000 each!
Coming at it from different directions, Google and Oakley (and many others) have entered the wearable technology sunglasses market. With Google’s offering photo sharing and virtual reality potential and Oakley launching two product lines with MP3 and phone capabilities. Unfortunately, these devices would never be mistaken for mere glasses with Oakley’s sporting speakers and buttons integrated into the temples and Google’s looking more cyborg-like than anything else. Very discretely, Soundglasses by the Italian label Buhel include a bone-conduction communication system inside the glasses that enable vibrations to become sound. Two Buhel Audio Vibration ® Speakers integrated in the temples of the glasses transmit a clear sound without the use of earphones.
The glasses can be paired with any Bluetooth enabled mobile phone or MP3 player. Furthermore, they are equipped with an integrated high-performance microphone with noise– cancelling system, enabling hands-free phone calls. The glasses answer automatically in hands-free mode which means that you’ll have to turn them off or watch what you say when you remove them inside that restaurant or café—your employer or partner may have called and could be listening to you. The batteries last for about 5 hours and recharging (via USB cable) takes about 3 hours. What’s most interesting is that they look like regular sun glasses. I can’t wait for Apple to enter this space to add to the consternation surrounding these communications devices so people can ask one another the confusing double-entendre question, “Have you seen my iGlasses?” No, not my eyeglasses my…
Wearable Outdoor Tech
Adidas’ adiPower Social Media Barricade isn’t the first Adidas shoe to come with built-in electronics, but it’s certainly the weirdest. This concept shoe is basically a red 2012 adiPower Barricade tennis shoe that receives and displays tweets directed to @adidasbarricade, designed to celebrate all the social media attention that the 2012 London Olympics got, and hopefully drive traffic to Adidas’ Facebook page also, which currently has over 9 million “likes.” The shoe is stuffed with an Arduino unit, an LCD display, color-changing LED lighting along the stripes, as well as what looks like a USB port at the back. This makes me wonder whether it can still fit a human foot, or if it’s any good for actual athletics. It’s currently just a concept shoe, and despite the mention of being “the future of athlete connectivity,” it’s likely to stay that way. A visit to the Twitter handle shows the last shoe-related tweet was over two months ago.
Tech savvy slackers, hipsters, and greying grungers can rejoice in the MP3 capabilities of this beanie, or touque style hat. The iLogic Sound Hat plugs into your iPod or MP3 player to experience the sound quality of the integral speakers that fit just over your ears. These Sound hats do away with the blues of headphone cables and at the same time prevents the cold breeze from entering your ears. Of course there is a cord that enables you to plug it into a standard mp3 player or iPod. When you are not using it, you can tuck it into the lining of the hat. Plug-in and chill out, without being affected by the chill. Now you can discretely tune out your blathering cohort, parental unit or even that annoying neighbor without them even noticing. Happy daze are here again!