Earth to Picard: Wearable tech is science fiction

Wearable tech, or rather, the buzz surrounding wearable tech, is everywhere. But what isn't everywhere? A market for wearable tech. You can't make something true by creating buzz no matter how cool you think it is.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor
Picard: "Number One, tell your pants to 'stand down'." Riker: "Pants, sir?"

In the Star Trek realm, we're focused (as the audience) on military people—those who are in Star Fleet or are somehow connected to space science, exobiology, or stardust analysis. They use wearable tech. Communications devices seem to be the wearable vogue of the 24th century but not much else. Tricorders are handheld, phasers are handheld—heck, even flashlights are handheld. Wearable tech is science fiction, even 300 years into the future.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks that wearable tech is, since the Great Debate on the topic of Wearable Computing reader opinion poll is split 50:50 right now. Half of you agree with me, which might be 25 percent more than those who usually agree with me.

Certainly Google Glass is an experiment in futility. No one will ever seriously wear this thing nor could one be productive with it. Wearable tech, to be useful to and adopted by the masses, will have to be unobtrusive, unobstructive, and unnoticeable. In other words, so small and so lightweight that you don't realize it's there.

I'm always aware of my cell phone in my pocket. Something that large and heavy can't be wearable. Even a bluetooth headset is too much. I've seen people use one in public and they look like monkeys—always pawing away at their ears and talking too loud. I feel like answering them when they look at me and talk but they're just staring, which is even weirder. So, I've decided to DIY a bluetooth signal scrambler so that anyone within earshot of me can't use one of those stupid things.

I'm not a great electronic or mechanical genius, so I might have to enlist the help of Tech DIY guru, David Gewirtz, for some assistance with that but I'm going to do it.

They'll never figure out what's going on with their wearable tech and I'll never tell. So, if your stupid bluetooth headset, your WiFi-connected gadget, or whatever it is you're messing with doesn't work, look around for me—I might be there, blocking you.

If only I could find a way to jam texting. That's my next goal: To jam texting. Text jamming, I reckon, is actually WiFi and Cellular signal jamming.

I HAVE A QUEST! To seek the Holy Jam. Sorry, back to the story of wearable tech.

Let's pretend for a moment that we're going to ignore Star Trek technology and think past "communications only" wearable tech. What other types of technology could designers weave into fashion? They might give us a musical brooch or eyeglasses that change color in response to mood, time of day, or UV exposure. Designers could include security strips into collars, cuffs, belts, or seams I suppose. But are there any useful wearable tech items that would be both fashion-forward and useful? Only time and geeky desires will tell for sure.

And we all know how fashion conscious computer people are, right?

I suppose too that high fashion could include concert T-shirts that play hits from its silk screened artist. Ill-fitting, non-belted pants could be made to change color when they've been worn for too many days in a row or had too much french fry grease wiped onto them. A pair of talking pants that ask for a belt or demand to be pulled up over one's "coin slot" would be a big hit.

If clothes designers were really clever, they could make their talking clothes give good fashion advice to the (How shall I phrase it?) fashion challenged. Talking shirts would say, "Tuck me in" or "I don't go with those pants."

Such wearable tech could result in more well-dressed nerds, so much so that dates and marriages would increase for an otherwise socially awkward demographic.

What would we do with all those empty basements? I know, dad could brew beer in his "man cave" or mom could have an art studio. Ah, what dreams may come.

Although realistically, the only "wearable tech" or wearable computing market, for the foreseeable future, is probably for the military. Those guys are so loaded up that they need some lightweight, unobtrusive wearable tech. As far as the common person goes, not so much. But, as in Star Trek, there's a need for handy communications devices. Other than the ability to speak with someone on demand, there's hardly any need for wearable tech now or in the future. Science fiction writers know that. Everyone else needs to wise up.

What do you think? Is wearable tech a real thing or science fiction. Talk back and let me know.

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