(Display Name not set)January 2004 Archives

watches to watch

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Microsoft's MSN Direct service lets you get weather, stock prices, personal messages, appointment reminders, etc. on your watch. When I heard that Microsoft was teaming up with watch companies like Fossil on this project, I was hopeful that the watch designs might break the normal geek mold for techno gadgets like these, but the geek mold prevailed. Both the Microsoft and Fossil sites show pictures of attractive, rounded displays with a blue background and transparent plastic frame, but the watches for sale are limited to square gray displays with manly black wrist straps. And although style is a primary concern, the size of these watches is also prohibitive to anyone with small wrists (read: women).

When I see devices like this, I wonder if companies realize that they're alienating women and those who care about style, or if they just don't care. I understand that there are technical and financial considerations that product teams need to worry about, but I'd think they'd find their target markets increasing if more design options were available.

In any event, I think the watch is a natural fit for integration with the type of functionality that Microsoft is offering. The watch has been fully adopted by our culture and accepted into our personal body space -- other wearable devices will have to overcome these social and physical hurdles. Hopefully Microsoft has some other partners and design plans up their sleeves.

On the topic of watches, a couple of interesting companies, who obviously take themselves a little less seriously than Microsoft does, include:

Pimp Watches: The Trip the Light Fantastic tells time via 72 red, green and yellow LEDs. The photos on their site are hysterical, showing the watch next to cigars and other pimp-lifestyle accessories. (If you're offended by anime characters with large breasts, you may want to give the site a miss.)

OVO: The Decision Maker "is equipped with several functions that can point you in the right direction or make decisions for you." That is, it has the same functionality as your Magic 8 Ball. Very fun design.

- Thanks to Jordon for pointing me to Pimp Watches, via Cool Hunting.

finally wearing

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As of yesterday, I'm officially "wearing". (I heard this term used last year at ISWC by one of the borgs: "There are fewer people wearing this year." To me, it has the connotations of "packing" and seems only slightly more benign!)

I've got on the SenseWear Pro Armband from BodyMedia, a Pittsburgh-based company that designs and develops wearable body monitors. The armband records things like movement, skin temperature, galvanic skin response, etc. and is meant to be worn 24/7 minus showering/baths. I was surprised by how aware of it I was all day yesterday and by how much it bothered me. But I'm equally surprised that I've hardly noticed it today. In fact, it feels strangely warm and comforting.

The designers at BodyMedia have been involved with some other cool projects, such as Mariko Mori's Wave UFO. In the exhibit, three people would each attach a triangular-shaped device to their foreheads and then lay down in the domed Wave UFO. The forehead devices collected participants' brainwaves, which were then visually interpreted and displayed on the ceiling above them.

first couture wearables?

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Today is the last day for the Elsa Schiaparelli exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before it moves to the Mus├łe de la Mode in Paris. Schiaparelli may not be widely known today, but from the late 1920's through 1954 she was a top couturier and rival to Coco Chanel. Her designs were practical and forward-thinking (in 1931 she developed a divided skirt for female tennis players), artsy and edgy (she collaborated with Salvador Dali to design a printed pattern that resembled torn animal flesh).

In what may be the first example of mixing technology and couture fashion, Schiaparelli placed music boxes into bags, belts, and hats to entertain guests during a 1939 fashion show.

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