Forget about those stereotyped geeks you see on that reality show, Beauty and the Geek. You know, the ones with the beards, the head light on a sweat band (for night jogging), the band-aid repaired horn-rimmed glasses, and the multitude of cross-colored ensembles worn to impress the color television audience and not the chicks.
I am going to talk to you—nay show you—what the hip, slick and cool geeks will soon be wearing in the authentic reality of techno-gadgetry, where one can, literally, “dress for success.” The wearable technology I will describe is now, or soon will be, available at your local techno-gear shop, and each product I show you is aimed at making you a cyberspace knock-out.
The Zen of Cranium
My college students taught me a lesson one semester after I purchased my first iPod. They informed me, rather blatantly, in an assignment I had them do that required them to create an ad parody. They chose to parody the iPod commercials and how it was through clever advertising that Steve Jobs and crew had been able to “pull the MP3 wool over our ears and eyes.” As a result of this techno-bashing from my students, my vote for music head gear for our successful (and smart) geek became Creative’s Zen MP3, radio and video player. Do me a favor. Just open up your web browser and pull up the specs on the iPod of your choice and then open a new window on the Zen player. Go down the two lists and compare the features for yourself. I am tired and embarrassed because my students showed me in their parody that I had made a very wrong decision. It stands to reason why Creative could do the job better, and the resulting product does cost much less (a college student’s joy). Creative’s been into digital sound a lot longer (they make sound cards, for heaven’s sake), and they also don’t spend a king’s ransom on marketing. Ergo, the truly “enlightened” geek uses Zen to get his head high on his favorite “Z-tunes.”
While we’re on the head, instead of a light on a sweatband, why not wear the latest Bluetooth sunglasses? As you scope out the babes or the boys, you can listen to sounds drifting from your 1 GB flash memory. In addition, you can do the boss’s bidding with your cell phone’s listening and speaking devices hooked into your glasses via comfortable headphones built right inside these cool shades! (Available at Modernjoys.com) If this isn’t futuristic enough, try the “memory glasses” by MicroOptical, a company which is working in the MIT media lab to perfect a set of clear lens glasses that will tell you when your dentist’s appointment is and what to buy for your wife, husband or boss’s anniversary. That’s right, a PDA will be displaying on a micro-screen right on your glass frames to jog your gray matter! Talk about your Baby-Boomer dream glasses!
Okay, having just bashed the iPod, I’m now going to show you the iPhone. What makes the iPhone cool is its integration of music and PDA technology. But the really cool part is that you can access everything with a touch of the finger! That’s right, grandma and grandpa, no more fumbling with a keypad or processing a multitude of maze-like directories. The iPhone (4 or 8 GB versions) lets you access your calls and your wireless communications with your single digit on the screen. In fact, it puts the “digit” back into digital. However, since Mac has lined up with Cingular as its only provider, I issue a caveat. Watch closely for those competitors with less braggadocio to come up with a less expensive and more flexible version of the iPhone. You don’t want your students or (gasp!) children parodying you! Another caveat: as one can take pictures and record sounds, Big Brother may be watching you! In fact, harmless sites like The Glogger Community (glogger.eyetap.org) could turn into “spy on your neighbor sites” if we should develop into a more paranoid society (God forbid).
The Mod Bod
All right, so you’re not a President or CEO. However, even regular folks want to keep track of their vital signs (especially during these stressful days when wars escalate all around us). Sensatex has created the “smart shirt,” which is a tee-shirt that registers all your body’s critical physiological information through the fiber-sensor system woven right into the fabric. Your heart rate, respiration, and body temperature are all calibrated and relayed in real time for analysis. Even if you’re not a hypochondriac, this tee-shirt would be great for mountain-climbing or other strenuous exercise. Also, consider BodyMedia, a Pittsburgh company that makes a special “smart band.” It’s worn on the upper arm and collects data on the wearer’s physical state, such as the way the body releases heat, so you can stay healthy all year long.
Forget about the geek with the twelve-pocket safari vest. You can now wear the Scott EVEST. Some EVESTS have room for 42 items, such as portable keyboards, digital cameras, GPS devices and small laptops. Levi Strauss can outfit you with their RedWire DLX jeans, with a built-in iPod docking cradle pocket and a retractable headphone. Thomas Pink is selling a Commuter Tie and dress shirt, which have pockets to hold an iPod and a loop to contain the headphone wires. Another piece of clothing incorporating the iPod is Brookstone’s technology-ready fleece jacket. Still another iPod-enabled coat is produced by Kenpo, which has iPod controls on the sleeves.
Need a complete computer to wear? No problem. Xybernaut has the Mobile Assistant V, a wearable computer that can be used for remote jobs, including those missions involving military operations. James Bond never had it so good! In fact, Dick Tracy would even love the Zypad WL 1000, a wrist-wearable, fully functional Linux system computer coming soon from the Parvus Corporation.
Hey, buddy, wanna buy a watch? This hi-tech Seiko watch is packed into a very stylish casing and is in fact an extension of your phone, and you’ll be able (at first) to play around with the volume of the ringtone of your phone. It can also alert you when you have an SMS or email, and it can display the number and the name of the person that is calling you. Finally, it will also alert you when the Bluetooth connection between the watch and phone is broken, so you won’t forget your phone anymore.
However, if you just want to slip out of the house with a handy pocket communicator, then the Sony mylo is your portable item. Enjoy your favorite online activities right under your thumbs. The mylo™ (My Life Online™) personal communicator lets you stay connected with your friends from just about anywhere with instant messaging, web browsing, music, pictures and videos—all concentrated in the palm of your hand. All you need to do is connect to an open WiFi hotspot (802.11b) and you can, browse the web with the built-in HTML web browser. With the built-in Skype software you can reach out to any Skype user on any Skype-enabled device and talk for free. Mylo is also a music player that allows you to share your playlists and stream songs between two mylo devices.
While we’re on the topic of hotspots, Wired Magazine’s Marty Graham recently wrote about all the summer vacation places that allow Wi-Fi connectivity. Leatherman, as Dr. Beach, writes a top 10 list of U.S. beaches every year and offered these for top Wi-Fi beaches, in no particular order. All have either 802.11b or 802.11g technology:
- La Jolla Shores, California, where Wi-Fi is available through the University of California at San Diego network
- Atlantic City, New Jersey — a classic among urban beaches
- South Beach Miami, where there’s plenty to e-mail home about
- San Elijo State Beach, California
- Clearwater Beach, Florida
- Caladesi Beach, Florida
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Newport Beach, California
- Malibu Lagoon State Beach, California
- Waikikiand Waimea beaches,Hawaii
However, if you really want to instantly find a place from which you can connect to the Internet, then you have to see Jiwire.com. Just type in the address where you want to
get a free connection and voila! You’re ready to click-and-go.
Multi-colored, Oderless Footwear and Power Backpack
Don’t look for a radio in the shoe like Agent 99 and Maxwell Smart did on that ancient TV spy show Get Smart of the 60s and 70s. The active geek of 2007 will, most likely, wear the Croc shoe. This is probably the most “geek-looking” apparel, as these shoes resemble Dutch clogs, but they are certainly comfortable and economic, and they resist odors.
In addition, I like the way the company answers probing, technical inquiries given
to them by potential customers:
Can you boil and then eat the shoes?
Answer: 4 out of our 5 Crocs’ Customer Service Representatives in this study agreed that even though the shoes had a nice texture and looked tasty, they would not recommend eating the shoes.
Can I microwave my Crocs shoes?
Answer: 100% of all Crocs Customer Service Representatives agreed, after thorough testing, that unless your Garden Gnome is in search of Lilliputian sized Crocs shoes, we do not recommend this action*
*Please note that no Crocs’ Customer Services Representatives or Garden Gnomes were harmed in these studies and that our products are latex free and contain no volatile organic compounds.
Most importantly, “geeks on the move” will not slip and slide away like their uncoordinated stereotypes do in movies and on TV. Instead, they’ll have both feet planted firmly on the ground as they trudge the happy road into their high tech destinies. Besides, what better way to insulate one from the electric shock of wearing all this high-tech gear than with rubber shoes? ☺
Finally, a professor from the University of Pennsylvania, Larry Rome, has developed a backpack that can give you the power you need for your electronic gadgets as you do your hiking. Rome’s suspended-load backpack incorporates springs and a metal frame to convert a walker’s mechanical movements into enough electricity to replace the 20 pounds of batteries a soldier normally would carry, using a generator weighing just one pound. The same technology also could benefit hikers or emergency workers.
“Hearing how people couldn’t communicate (during January’s tsunami in Indonesia) because their satellite phones went dead, I realized this could give emergency responders electric independence,” Rome says. Useful “particularly on days when there’s no sun,” the backpack weighs 15 pounds, but Rome hopes to reduce it to 6 or 7.