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What is up with the future of wearables?
Behold the future of fashion. Click this video and watch it for 10 seconds:
Cool, huh? In a way, this is only semi-original. This image of the changing clothes is long inserted in the veins of social imagination.
You can argue it comes from The Jetsons or even further back the Sci-Fi rabbit hole. You could even argue there’s no need for much imagination: you see a little guitar player in your shirt and you wish he’d spin his arm around. The videoclip just facilitates your vision.
Then you click here:
And you realise we’re actually not that far. Perhaps in ten years nobody will be forced to choose a colour to wear: people will wear 45 different pristine Pantone tones every single day.
In broad strokes, a wearable is a little computer you wear on your body. By their small nature, they tend to be very narrow and specialized in functionality. Something like a wristband that can track your sleep and steps or a vibrating metronome for band practice.
Of course, the one-ring-to-rule-them of this wave is the Apple Watch — for such a tiny thingy, it’s a quite powerful and versatile device. It can replace your credit card, track your heart rate, tell you the top 5 best singles from The Eagles. It’s more potent than my 1999 computer, that’s for sure. But you know what is it not? Everybody’s cup o’ tea. Nothing is. In fact, no single item has this ethereal quality of pleasing all audiences and that’s sorta by design. The fundamental nature of fashion forbids it!
If you think we wear clothes to protect ourselves from the elements, allow me to propose a thought experiment. Go out on a cold day (if possible, snowy morning), look at the people walking by and ask yourself: “are those clothes…. optimal?”
You’ll surely realise all these people could be wearing lighter, comfy, cheaper garments that would protect them much better from the outside forces. We wear pieces of cloth for protection, we choose which cloth by passion.
Fashion is driven by emotion — the textures and colours that cover our bodies are a piece of our self expression, like we or not. They denote things we value and things we don’t really care. They talk about our extravagance, our pessimism, our finances, our spirituality, our stories.
Since fashion is such a present self-expression tool, it’s natural that some people will proudly wear and even advocate for the supreme king Apple Watch. They’ll argue it’s about the functions and the softwares, but we know better.
Others, like Vanessa Friedman from the New York Times, will do their best… but ultimately break up with their watches — “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Which brings us back to the first videoclip: what if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could choose them all at once? What if you started your day wearing a Michael Jackson shirt, had lunch with a plain grey one and went to the bar in the evening with a Rick and Morty episode silently rolling around your torso? This, more than any static form of fashion, has the potential to flock most people.
Self driving cars are not the future, they’re right here right now. They may not ready for all the situations we’d like, but in many ways they are better than humans already. Vastly so.
Humans are far better at scanning and understanding their environment, but cars are better at moving their own bodies than a driver could ever be. While humans have access to many of the car’s systems (turning system, accelerating system, braking system), the self-driving car has access to the totality of them.
This means that a car can control the precise usage of gas at each turn, instantly check if any pieces are broken after a bump, synchronize its headlights with the song that’s playing on its radio and many other feats impossible to the best of drivers.
This may sound high tech, but other pieces of machinery have been doing that for years: planes, for example. Flying is more effective and less dangerous each day that passes because the pilot’s decisions are ever more informed by the myriad of systems constantly probing everything that’s going on.
Yet, it seems like just a few people connected the dots and started to apply this logic to the human body. The wearables may be a decisive first step.
There’s no rocket science here: if you know how many steps you take every day, how many hours you sleep and how many milligrams of calcium your meal provides; your health-related decisions become more informed.
But yet, only the people with the need to check those things constantly would make the decision to wear those tracking devices — it’s not the practical benefit that informs fashion after all. But if your t-shirt can change to any colour and track your breathing patterns, it fits both criteria at the same time.
This, in turn, sparks a hyper-healthy chain reaction.
Companies like xbird are already tracking people’s data with the non-ubiquitous wearables we have available right now. Even with this relatively small amount of data, their software can reliably predict health patterns and have a huge chance to prevent hypoglycemia in diabetes patients. If they had 20% of the population of a country to track, the absurd amount of data this would generate would allow this type of technology to explode in productivity.
Better still: with the spread of wearables as a common fashion choice, many different body conditions could contribute their data to the system, allowing the machine learning to munch all those precious numbers and better understand the criss-crossing of multiple conditions inside a single body. All of that without a syringe. Without a scale.
We’re proud of the crazy-inventive alumni teams we’ve got here at G4A. The thing that get us is the hope they provide: humanity’s biggest health problems used to be really different 100 years ago and seeing those folks’ work shows that we can — with a lot of hard work and a pinch of luck — change the game within our lifespans. Create the solutions to the biggest problems humans face and leave the next generation dealing with issues we can’t even imagine right now.