Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 18/8/2006 With few exceptions, smart clothing may be the single stupidest IT idea I've ever heard. I've no objections to functional clothing that contains computing: spacesuits, diving gear and possibly even sporting apparel can all absorb environmental and personal functionality to good effect.

Friday 18/8/2006

With few exceptions, smart clothing may be the single stupidest IT idea I've ever heard. I've no objections to functional clothing that contains computing: spacesuits, diving gear and possibly even sporting apparel can all absorb environmental and personal functionality to good effect. But in general, the concepts of adding a dual-core blade server to one's trousers or some sort of video player to a string vest are clearly risible. I ris, sir. I ris.

But that doesn't stop people blathering on about it. The latest daftness comes from South Korea, where the Government has solemnly declared that because "smart clothing" ideas involve risks too great to be born by commercial enterprise alone, it will invest the people's money.

What tosh! It seems to be based on the logic that since everyone wears clothes and everyone uses computers, the market for computerised togs is — everyone. Silly. What is the point of building a mobile phone into my jacket if it means I have to wear that jacket every time I want to use the phone? What if I want to upgrade my phone but not my jacket?

There is a reason mobile phones are designed to fit into pockets, which is the reason there are pockets in the first place. There is a reason that most people have a range of clothing from which to choose depending on mood, task and weather. The whole business works perfectly well, thank you very much.

It's not as if people are going around sobbing into their sadly dumb handkerchiefs over the sheer misery of life without chip-laden posing pouches. "I wish my shoes could play mp3s," they do not wail. What's more, the people who have experimented with wearable computing in the past have all been severely deranged dolts who clearly don't mind looking like escapees from some hideous Japanese animated cartoon. You are not more attractive with half a kilo of robot vomit dangling from your hat. Stop it. Stop it at once.

They won't. There is a class of people, who think just because something can be done, it should be done, and what's more it should be done with other people's money. The best that can be said is that such people add to the gaiety of nations, much like monkeys in tutus.

The highest form of computing is to find, access and use the most powerful systems on the planet entirely naked, as I am now in fact doing. This costs you nothing, while affording me great pleasure.

On that thought, I bid you a good weekend.

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