There’s no point denying it: before long we’re all going to be cyborgs.
Our limbs scaled with blinking bangles, our faces draped with cameras, sensors and hologram projectors, we’ll limp through the near-future muttering to ourselves and jerking our arms around to ‘command’ the digital tomb slowly encasing our bodies, until finally we give in and upgrade our obsolete flesh and bones for a place in New World Order of the Cyber-People.
The reason, if you haven’t heard, is rise of 'wearable technology'.
The trend ostensibly began with the arrival of Google Glass last year, the revolutionary eyewear device that cuts out the 3 seconds it takes to remove your iPhone from your pocket and look at it by injecting information directing into your retinas, handily making you look like a total idiot and ruining your sex life at the same time.
Google Glass and the long-awaited iWatch will go down in history as the laughable early prototypes our fully assimilated robotic selves remember with a pre-programmed smile.
But for now, these two products have paved the way for an endless stream of tech predictions and crowd-funded start-ups desperate to show us how we can improve our lives by attaching more devices to our bodies and clothing.
Here, we round up the imminent and semi-imminent advances in wearable technology that will map our course to an inevitable dystopia, some of which it’s actually worth getting pretty excited about. While you can still feel excitement without downloading it first, that is.
1 | Injury-preventing socks
‘Sensoria’ is a new sock that comes with an anklet able to detect what you’re doing with your foot, which admittedly in most cases is ‘nothing’. But if you’re running, jumping or otherwise exerting yourself, the sensoria will keep tabs of how much pressure you’re putting yourself under and alert you if you’re about to injury yourself. The developers? None other than long-established luxury knitwear stalwarts Pringles of Scotland. Just kidding it’s a start up called Heapsylon.
2 | Air purifying bangles
When walking – or God forbid, running – through the city, inhaling polluted air is as inevitable as passing a McDonalds or quietly wanting to thump a tourist. But a new wristband means you can fight back against the fumes. The Hand Tree, created by Alexandr Kostin, sucks up and filters polluted air before sending it back out into the atmosphere.
3 | Clothes that operate Facebook
Now this is a hard one to fathom. A company called Electric Foxy claim to have invented Ping, a ‘garment that connects you to your Facebook account wirelessly and from anywhere’. A bit like a phone with decent 3G then. But it gets stranger:
“…stay connected to your friends and groups of friends simply by performing natural gestures that are built into the mechanics of the garments we wear. Lift up a hood, tie a bow, zip, button, and simply move, bend and swing to ping your friends naturally and automatically.”
So, rather than press a button on a handheld screen, you can use Facebook by reenacting the more rigorous scenes from West Side Story in the street.
“No phone, no laptop, no hardware. Simply go about your day, look good and stay connected.”
From this final sentence, we’re most dubious about the words ‘simply’ and ‘good’. Not that we can test it – as far as we can tell from the Electric Foxy website, there is no way yet of actually buy one these garments, which incidentally look like dressing gowns.
4 | Phone charging clothes
Another start-up, the refreshingly-straight forwardly named Wearable Solar is developing ways you can charge your smartphone with your clothes and accessories by harnessing – you guessed it – the sun. An admirable aim, but we can’t help thinking the time you really need portable phone juice isn’t during the day when you’re travelling between your home or work desk but at 4am on a Saturday, when you’ve lost your friends leaving a nightclub, can't find a nightbus and need to call a taxi.
5 | Golf swing analysing gloves
In the harrowing aftermath of a scuffed drive, the last thing you want to hear is a friendly voice calmly pointing out where you’re going wrong. Or maybe that’s just us. If so, the Zeep Golfsense glove could be for you. It can sense the speed, plane, tempo and hip angle that led to your embarrassment, then transmit the info to your smartphone to watch back in 3D.
6 | Vision enhancing contact lens
We’ve covered these before, but in summation: a pair of mega-pixel lens are being developed that give you superhuman vision. The creation of US start-up Innovega, the iOptik lenses display things in great detail than the pathetic ball of mush and sinew you call your eye. A dramatic reversal of fortunes for the near-sighted, we're looking forward to the development of a hearing aid that lets you listen through walls and pair of crutches that actually makes you better at football.
7 | The belt that improves your posture
Like a stern finishing school headmistress, the LUMOback Posture Belt will alert you every time your posture slopes below perfect by vibrating against your lower spine. Naturally, it collects your data and sents it to your phone for daily reports on just close you are to becoming a hunchback.
This, of course, is just seven from the hundreds of wearable technology ideas out there that happened to catch our eye. But image the headache of using – or even just transporting – this little lot all at the same time.
No, there's little point resisting it. The sooner we embrace our future as cyborgs, the better.