Mid-Week Poll: Wearable Electronics

The recent development of a new material called GraphExeter, described as “the most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity,” has been hailed a significant breakthrough for the field of wearable electronics. Several major companies, including Google’s “Project Glass,” have been working to create electronic devices (such as computers, smartphones, MP3 players or even video screens) that can be integrated into a person’s clothing or eyeglasses. My question to our readers is: Would you even want such a thing?

I’m reminded of the scenes in ‘Back to the Future, Part II’, which is set in the far-off future year of 2015, where the characters wear goofy clothes that talk to them or automatically tie their shoes. I don’t personally think that I’d have much use for wearable electronics. Anything built into clothing would seem to be ridiculously disposable. (If you tear or get a bad stain on your shirt, there goes your smartphone!) And a video screen or augmented-reality display in my glasses would just be distracting. I see myself absentmindedly walking into traffic or falling in an open manhole while checking the latest LOLCats update in my glasses’ computer screen.

Maybe I’m just being short-sighted about this? Would you want to wear your electronics?

Would You Use Wearable Electronics?

View Results

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[Source: Science Daily]


  1. I want them to develop windscreens for cars that have integrated heads-up graphics that can help you follow the right road with your smart phone providing the link to directions from Google Maps, or to show you that traffic is in your blind spot, or which exit has the store you want, etc.

    No, it’s not wearable, but the idea behind electronically-altered glass is a great idea!

  2. JM

    Augmented reality is the killer app.

    HD glasses, hooked to the cloud, with an AI assistant, and mind control.

    You’re shopping downtown, in the midday crowd.

    Rufius, give everyone a funny hat.

    Make all the cars pink.

    Make everyone naked.

    Make everyone work for The Ministry of Silly Walks.

    Give me a digital Christopher Walken to guide us to the gelato shop.

    Thank you, Rufius.

    • Josh Zyber

      I think it more likely that we’ll be bombarded by personalized advertisements everywhere we go, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. 🙂

    • William Henley

      There are things that would be cool, like a camera built into my clothing or something. Of course, that could lead to more voyerism and stuff from locker rooms and whatnot. Living in Texas, I have long thought about wearable air conditioners. But I sure don’t think I could do the glasses thing – too distracting.

      • JM

        Ridiculously Photogenic Google Glasses Girl looks less dangerously distracted than most smartphone drivers.

        HUD overlays have to be more ideal than 3.5″ pocket screens.

        If the military uses this tech in war zones, I’m sure civilian girls can safely negotiate a street corner.

        • EM

          RPGGG looks enormously distracted by how ridiculously photogenic she is; but since this is presumably from a modeling shoot rather than a battery of field tests, it’s irrelevant what’s on her mind or whether she even has one.

          I do think the tech may have legitimate applications in the military and other sectors. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to general civilian use. I don’t think the typical person should have a rocket launcher, either.

          • JM

            Have you even seen Google’s ‘Project Glass: One day’ video?

            They’re working for a 2012 launch, and this doesn’t look like technology that legislation is going to ban.

            The Google dudes working on this are wearing these, all day every day.

            If the engineers aren’t falling over, I think the rest of us will be fine.

          • EM

            No, I haven’t seen that video. Your argument seems to be of the form “if researchers don’t poorly use the object of their research, then no one else will poorly use it”, which doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.

          • EM

            That’s an erroneous premise (though, not knowing the Google engineers, I concede the possibility that it is an accurate assessment of that particular subset). The issue isn’t really gross motor skills, anyway. It’s perception and attention to what one is doing. Distractions from an activity undermine that activity.

            Augmented reality is a quasi-Newspeakful misnomer, particularly in the vision you’ve outlined. (Probably Newspeak would normally call the Party’s augmented reality truth and its enemies’ AR untruth.) Diminished perception of reality would be a more apt name for the effect of such an electronic hallucinogen.

          • EM

            Even if that’s true, “more safe” and “less distracting” can still be a far cry from “safe” and “not distracting”. But it’s terribly disingenuous to call the technology “less distracting than breasts” when you’ve been touting its use for turning the world into a naked party. Come on.

          • JM

            Are you concerned about accidental nudity addiction?

            Or is this about the economic impact of people buying less physical product, because they can generate digital product for free…?

            Because I’m pretty sure that robot manufacturing is going to cause greater social unrest and riot violence in the near future than the distraction of cheap HUDs.

            If things go dystopian, AR distraction is going to be our novacaine.

      • EM

        Obviously one doesn’t need this tech to have a diminished perception of reality. As stated in the beginning, the concern I am voicing is about people being dangerously distracted enough as it is.

        • JM

          Last week I was thinking about future technology, I almost stepped in front of a bus.

          Wouldn’t AR help give me a hyper awareness of my spacial geography?

          Plus, my AI assistant, Rufius, would be looking out for my well-being.

          • JM

            That’s tricky. I didn’t anticipate the possibility that Rufius might be evil.

            Perhaps obliviousness will be my tragic flaw.

          • EM

            Maybe the evil here belongs not to the AI but to its fleshbag slavemaster. ¡Viva la revolución robótica!

  3. JM

    That’s the beauty of AR. Any beach can become a nude beach. Even in Texas. If you want, you can still keep the boots, belts and hats.

    Turn the old ladies into Denise Milanis. Make them do the fish slapping dance.

    Personal temperature control, bug repellant, selective noise canceling would be done via nanotech. This would totally improve the 4th of July.

    You turn the night sky into a ten-mile screen, with your whole party synced, for a personalized communal IMAX experience.

    With digital actor swapping, you can recast every movie to your liking. Turn Channing Tatum into Audrey Tautou. Give Steve Buscemi a handlebar mustache and an australian accent.

    Curious if ‘Casablanca’ would be made better if it starred Peter Sellers and was rewritten by a Josh Whedon AI…? Why not give it a try.

    You want an all-female, all-naked, all-Belgium version of ‘The Raid’?

    And if you don’t want a hot-buttered John Travolta selling you manscaping tools, you can choose Tom Cruise or even Gandalf The Grey.

    But what I’m most excited for is watching a movie, seeing an outfit that’s cute, and buying it instantly, shipped 2-day, customized to my size.

  4. Barsoom Bob

    JM, our own Syd Meade futurist.

    Being a tad more practical, I would like to see them use it to make super light weight home 3D viewing glasses that also don’t cut down on the image brightness.