The future of wearable tech will be invisible

Declare freedom from ugly wearables.
Declare freedom from ugly wearables.
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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The enduring contradiction of wearable technology is how utterly unwearable most of it looks. Fashion collaborations have failed to deliver; fitness trackers and connected clothing make most sense at the gym; and Google glass still looks clunky. (This, I can’t even.) Apple is building bridges to the fashion community, via both headhunting and inclusion at events—but it remains to be seen how many self-respecting aesthetes will strap a small computer to their wrists.

The New York Times reports on one strategy that may actually get people to wear so-called wearable technology: Make it invisible.

wearable tech, invisible, biostamp
MC10’s Biostamp.
Image: AP Photo/Elise Amendola

MC10, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that has developed solar cell technology for the US Army and makes stretchable microchips, is testing tiny attachable computers that adhere and conform to the wearer’s skin like a Band-Aid. Picture a fingernail-sized sticker that contains a wireless antenna, sensors, and a battery. MC10’s CEO told the Times that unlike today’s fitness monitors, ”ours are always on you.”

It’s a powerful idea, and one that’s perhaps creepy to some—not unlike the Bill Gates-backed contraceptive microchip. Those devices are being developed to implant under one’s skin. It’s such not a big leap, from adhesive computers to computers that go under your skin.

In the meantime, Anke Loh, the chairwoman of the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is working to make the devices resemble body art. Sounds like they could be next year’s Flash Tattoos at Burning Man.