Sunday, February 04, 2007

What is "wearable technology"?

What is "wearable technology"?

All that surrounds us was once technology. Once a technology becomes commonplace, it disappears. But what happens when we engage new bizarre forms of technology that have not yet penetrated the mainstream? We think of them as special, even when they are not. We use the term technology to refer to the things that are still rare and surprising; the things that are fragile; the things that are complex. We no longer think about weaving as a technology, but it still is. All of these things are technologies and we need to approach them in the same way.

We think that electronic objects need to be rational because circuits and programming are based on logic. We assume that function needs to be rational. Function implies a logical engineering process of needs assessment and problem solving. But do not forget that pleasure is function. Beauty is function. Poetry is function. And at the same time, technology is ornament and ornament is technology.

I would like to suggest that "smart objects" are actually stupider than plain objects. Plain objects have more of projective nature. They allow us to project our desires and to create complex behaviors and narratives. Smart objects are more linear and they constrain our imagination by providing a determined behavior and narrative.

So, now, the crucial question is: "What does technology look like?" Maybe it needs to look more like magic. Maybe it needs to look a lot more like art. In any case, I believe that it needs to flirt with the irrational in order to be meaningful.