Wearable technology: helping you look stupid in 2014 and beyond

Opinion Edward Jones
Jan 16, 2014

If you’re a lover of wearable technology, look away now because this one’s not for you

A history of failure

Wearable technology is not some new discovery; it’s a concept that has been unsuccessfully bouncing around the technology industry since the mid-seventies when Pulsar decided that a watch could be more than just a watch, it could be…..a calculator watch.

There followed a ten-year phase where no member of the finance department felt complete without their revolutionary calculator watch. That is of course until the discovery that gaudy Casio calculator watches were in fact far from cool. Where upon the concept of wearable technology was forgotten. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two decades, wearable technology passed out of all knowledge.

Yet here we are in 2014, where all of a sudden wearable technology is a brand new concept. The greatest invention since sliced bread (thank you Otto Frederick Rohwedder), the very concept is ludicrous. It feels somewhat akin to Ford announcing a press conference tomorrow, and rolling out a circular object announcing “look what we just invented, we call it a wheel”. Everyone claps and cheers, magically forgetting the last six to seven thousand years of history.

Unless you’ve guessed it, I’m not the biggest fan of wearable tech, so join me as I wind my way through several wearable tech inventions that really get my goat.

Mobile phone watches

Every time I see a mobile phone watch, I feel an overwhelming urge to face plant the nearest surface. Mobile phone watches are NOT new! In 2007 I embarked on a skiing trip with a friend who had recently purchased a “state of the art” mobile phone watch. Initially we expressed concern when he suddenly began speaking to his wristwatch, loudly exclaiming that he was on holiday, and laughing hysterically at some unheard response.

After informing us that he’d purchased a mobile phone watch, we did what any good friends would do in that situation, we ridiculed him until he returned the watch. Unless you’re James Bond, don’t wear a mobile phone watch; you can’t pull it off, you look ridiculous.

LED mood sweaters

Possibly my most hated wearable technology invention of 2014, the GER Mood Sweater. A device that “reads human emotions” by reflecting specific LED light colours onto the white fabric of the sweater. Inventions don’t come more pointless than this. Their selling point “show people how you really feel”, can’t they just look at my face? If my teeth are bared, I’m angry, the lips curve up I’m happy. Hell, if I really want people to know how I feel, here’s a novel idea, I’ll tell them.

I certainly don’t want a sweater that turns purple, loudly proclaiming to the world that I’m aroused. Some things are best kept private. 

Google Glass

As if the invention of the mobile phone hadn’t damaged our ability to interact with other human beings enough, Google Glass came along just in time to finish the job. Most individuals are too reliant on their mobile phones as it is – constantly connected, unable to switch off. Google Glass will transition this technology connection to 100 percent up time.

As if the degradation of human connectivity wasn’t enough, Google Glass can have more serious and dangerous implications. Having an interface in front line of site is distracting, and it’s only a matter of time till someone walks into traffic whilst catching up on the latest episode of Gossip Girl.

Redeeming features

Ok, so wearable tech has taken a beating today and there is certainly no hiding that I despise the concept. The tech industry has found an innovative way to re-create technological devices and exploit our ever-increasing reliance on technology, and put simply, the laziness of the human condition.

Wearable tech can have redeeming features however, if you have the chance, watch this YouTube video about Google Glass explorer, Alex Blaszczuk. Paralysed in from the chest down in a car accident, Google Glass is helping Alex reconnect with the world performing actions she couldn’t otherwise.

Wearable technology created with the express function of allowing an individual to overcome a disability is an idea I can get behind. But until mainstream tech companies are out there creating Luke Skywalker-esque bionic hands, I will continue to bash wearable tech.


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