This according to Intel's Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Devices Group.
My only question is whether these estimates are possibly way too low.
Consider how intimate we already are with our mobile devices: according to a Morgan Stanley Internet Trends report, 90% of us always have our mobile devices to hand - within 3 feet, 24 hours a day. Leaving only an arm's length (literally) to bridge to becoming wearable...followed, of course, by becoming imbedded and injected.
But first things first: the wearable. "As the concept of wearable technologies moves from simple tracking devices it may well evolve to represent a tighter alliance between the body, our garments and technology significantly changing how we interface and interact with the world around us," observes Dutch fashion-tech designer Anouk Wipprecht, whose work combining interactive sensors and the new generation of non-bulky, high processing-power micro-controllers into clothing just took another stylish leap forward with her 3-D printed Synapse dress featuring Intel inside: the Edison, a tiny computer designed for wearables. By logging the wearer's bio signals and proximity to others, the interactive sensors embedded into the printed flexible leather hybrid - called Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) - make the dress glow if someone is approaching too quickly or has breached the border of the personal-space bubble, which a built-in camera can even document. "The Synapse Dress enabled by Intel Edison imagines the 'new wardrobe' as a sixth sense Interactive Couture reacts to you and the world around you." (images above & left: Jason Perry via source)
While undeniably cool, is there something more substantial to admire than just the glare of the glitz?
As a platform for multiple devices to sense, transmit, and interact on behalf of the wearer, the dress reflects her "intuitive dialogue" with her world, translating raw biosignal data into the language of feelings - including being unhappy or distressed, which many of us can find difficult to convey to others - and letting the dress then communicate the wearer's attitude. Built-in LEDs change pattern and glow more dimly or brightly in response to changes in vocal pitch and tone. Or even mental focus. "A state of high concentration abstracted from her EEG allows the wearer to activate the powerful glow and trigger an image capture," continues Wipprecht, "controlled, quantified and modulated by leveraging inputs from the body’s electrical system."
In other words, what Synapse is designed to do is way more than just quantify oneself a la the current crop of trackers and instead dive into deeper, more mysterious waters by creating a sense of immersion - physiologically, socially and emotionally. "I believe technology will transform from the role of a 'device' towards functioning more as an integrated medium," adds Wipprecht. "With fashion being the one truly universal wearable spread all over our bodies and increasingly integrated abilities to sense and compute, we can start to redefine wardrobe of the future...[reflecting] a tighter alliance between the body, our garments and technology. Technology therefore becomes transformed from the role of a 'device' towards functioning as the medium itself, opening a discussion about where such intimate technologies will lead us."
Hopefully toward connecting - and communicating more - which is a huge society-wide problem.
According to recent surveys, almost half of us feel more lonely than ever. Beyond just functioning as reliable fodder for sappy songs, feeling lonely can kill you. When the elderly feel lonely and socially isolated, they are twice as likely to die prematurely. Loneliness is correlated with internal inflammation and impaired immune function, which paves the way for type II diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. Considered to be twice as dangerous even as obesity, loneliness has serious health consequences - for all of us. So projects like the Synapse are, I believe, vital. "As electronics continue to be figuratively and literally woven into the fabric of our physical world," says Wipprecht, "we are beginning to imagine how these new materials and interactions will impact the way we connect, communicate and relate to one another."
- Lesley Scott
Actively embracing technology with a desire to make it fashionable and timely is a signature of the Futurenetic Fashion Tribe. For more of my posts and podcasts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.