Every once in a while you see a piece of wearable technology which seems to border on “too good to be true” territory. Waverly Labs’ Pilot smart earpiece definitely falls into that category.
While the idea of making a piece of technology which serves as a fast interpreter is hardly new, the idea of making one this portable and able to work from audio does seem to be something pulled out of science fiction. It is nothing less than the real-world creation of the Babel Fish from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Even Star Trek featured larger handheld devices which offered comparable functionality.
As we speak, the Pilot is currently gathering investment on Indiegogo right now. Check it out there or on Waverly Labs’ own website.
The MIT Media Lab has recently developed metallic temporary tattoos which can communicate with other electronic devices such as sending signals to your mobile phone.
They call it DuoSkin. It already has some technology experts quite excited at the possibilities of using your own skin as a track pad for mobile applications or a remote sensor (for unlocking doors).
In one of my previous articles on prosthetic limbs and their potential for creative expression, I mentioned the James Dyson Award-winning affordable prosthetic hand design of Open Bionics.
Since then, Open Bionics has done something amazing — they have established a collaboration with Konami (makers of Metal Gear Solid) to develop creative prosthetic limb design. They call it the Phantom Limb Project.
This partnership echoes Ove Arup’s famous vision of designers and engineers working closely together in all endeavours, and is a perfect example of what I am confident we will see as commonplace in the future of prosthetic limb design.
Smart jewellery manufacturer Misfit has partnered up with Swarovski to develop a smart bracelet and pendant which combines activity tracking with a rather nice sparkling clock face function. It makes for both a very elegant and very functional piece of wearable technology.
The crystal itself is interchangeable between two different styles of bracelet and one style of pendant.
Swarovski Shine Activity Crystal and the various styles of housing available
A couple of decades ago, one resourceful contemporary art jeweller named Caroline Broadhead explored the idea of using projected light as a tool for body decoration. Of course, as with many experimental art pieces, its connections to the practical weren’t immediately obvious at the time. However, with recent advances in body projection and motion tracking, it seems several designers and developers are revisiting this idea of projecting jewellery and accessories as light onto the body. Only this time, they’ve added a whole new level of functionality.
Not too long ago, Shapeways released a list of CAD/CAM made accessories produced by their designers containing technology which were designed to look like jewellery. It provides another nice example of how wearable technology is increasingly being designed like jewellery rather than sports accessories.
It seems we have recently started seeing a big momentum change in the fields of wearable tech and smart clothing. Recent innovations in embedded RFID technology (as I discussed back in 2012), cost-efficient 3D printing for accessories (as I’ve also been following here), and new materials research have finally come together to create a proper trend in wearable technology innovation.
The InnovateUK Blog has written a good overview of the many different directions of wearable technology research happening now.
But there is so much more going on right now in many fields of accessory design and experimental fashion. While some of the immediate applications are clearly more practical than others, all of them show the commercial possibilities we’re only just barely starting to explore within these technologies.