At a press event yesterday, I was given press materials on the rubber USB bracelet that's becoming de rigueur. Apple's supposedly coming out with an iWatch. And a Hong-Kong-based company called Aeglo has designed a stylus that turns into a slap bracelet (see below). The wrist, it seems, is becoming the Manhattan real estate of tech devices.
It's easy to see why: The wrist is easily accessible and has long been the prime body location to wear technology, as pioneered by the wristwatch in the 1920s. In more recent decades headphones, earbuds and bluetooth earpieces have moved tech onto our domes, and if Google Glass goes mainstream, wearable tech will make the leap to our faces. If throat mics catch on, necks will be covered too.
While we've seen concepts for technology-embedded clothing, we're not confident that catch-all solution is going to catch on, outside of a few niche markets like iPod-controlling snowboard jackets. No, we suspect the wearable technology market will rise in fragments: An iWatch on your wrist, Google Glasses on your face, a Bluetooth bud in your ear, a throat mic on your neck. (While there are arm-mounted bands to hold iPod Nanos for runners, we can't see that one going mainstream either, as the bands are meant to be worn on bare arms or skintight athletic gear.)
At one point in time, humans had to grind their own coffee beans, boil water, combine the ingredients and filter out the grounds in order to get a cup of joe. Our limited imaginations of the time assumed that one day a robot, like The Jetsons' Rosie the Robot, would do all of that stuff for us in the future. Instead manufacturers developed a bunch of discrete objects: Coffee grinding machines, coffeemakers, packages of disposable paper filters we'd buy by the hundred. In this analogy we think the idea of computer-embedded clothing is the Rosie the Robot fantasy, and that things like the iWatch and bluetooth headsets are the separate objects that we'll still buy piecemeal and coordinate with each other.
Our question to you guys is, where else on the body do you see wearable technology migrating to, in a mainstream way? And which body part, if any, do you think various manufacturers will most compete for space on?
In any case, here's the video for the Flaxus, the aforementioned slap-bracelet stylus. It might sound silly in a text description, but the video makes a compelling case for its utility. It also seems a good application for those who need to interact with their devices while working outside with gloves on:
The Flaxus is up on Kickstarter, at $8,782 of a $10,000 goal, with about a week left to make it.