The new buzz in the world of gadgets is ‘wearable technology’. You might be familiar with Google Glass: a set of spectacles with lenses that present information to the wearer. They resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger’s eyeballs in The Terminator, only with local temperature and directions to the nearest garage instead of ballistics readings and weapons evaluations. You can now buy a watch that also doubles as a camera and can send or receive messages and emails. What we’re looking at here, essentially, is all of James Bond’s gadgets finally becoming a commercial reality. Ian Fleming would be very proud.
Technological innovation is marvellous, but I prefer need over needless. Being able to send or receive messages on your wristwatch is grand, but we can already enjoy this privilege on computers, tablets, phones, televisions, toasters and electric toothbrushes. Is it so outrageous to not want to be contacted at some point during our waking lives? While I love the thrill of getting an email notification burnt onto my toast (Group Discount: 20 per cent off a Gold Star car valet for one day only) and the rush of getting a message spelled out in toothpaste foam on my bicuspids (‘R u at home?’), there must be occasions when it’s not necessary – or desirable – to be on the grid.
Wearable technology is the thin end of the wedge. Watches and glasses are just the beginning; can you imagine what’ll be next? A scarf that updates your facebook status or an umbrella that gives you up-to-the-minute weather alerts. (Note to developers: the fact that a person is already using an umbrella suggests the weather is wet.) I’m reminded of those tragic stories of motorists who devoutly follow the directions from their satnav and end up driving into a field or lake. The most accurate and reliable ‘satnav’ you have in your car is called a windscreen. Looking through this simple glass device will quickly inform you that going left after fifty metres will result in a collision with a privet hedge and not, as the voice suggests, the shortest route to the motorway you’ve been looking for since earlier that morning.
Can you imagine the awkward moments that will arise if wearable technology infiltrates certain occasions? Picture yourself at the altar, about to be married, when your bridal veil starts beeping. ‘Whoops!’ you apologise, as you halt the proceedings to get an important update: someone just retweeted your tweet about how excited you are on your wedding day. Or imagine you’re halfway through a GAA match and the ball is lobbed high up towards your direction. ‘Hang on lads!’ you yell, ‘I’ve got an email here on my boot!’ Play is halted while you read a lewd joke sent to you from a mate in Sydney.
Where are all the practical innovations? We don’t need any more outlets for the white noise and chatter of social media. I’m currently developing a jumper with a generic remote control built into the right sleeve. Now that’s what I call wearable technology. Say goodbye to the days of flinging sofa cushions around the living room in the desperate search for the zapper, with my patented Channel Jumper! (Now taking pre-orders.)
I’m also working on an intelligent necktie (the iTie, no offence to Italians) that gauges the correct length at which to loop itself into a knot. I can’t be the only man to eventually get it right, rather pathetically, on the fourth or fifth try. It’s always too long or too short and the whole exercise gets tedious after a while. Imagine a world in which we always get the tie tying correctly on the first go; oh what a utopian future that would be!
Would you buy a raincoat with an in-built weather app that announces the forecast before you leave the house? Of course you would. As the father of two young boys I’m also in the early stages of work on socks that pick themselves up off the bedroom floor, self-cleaning underpants and school uniform trousers with auto-repair knee patches. My most innovative project is a formal black tie suit with an in-built bread-making device to stave off hunger during prolonged gaps between courses at special events: I call it the Tuxedough.
I’m especially excited about my line of Smart Babywear. In truth, it’s just a babygrow with a unique operating system. I’ve named it: Sensing Hum Info Technology. It deploys basic olfactory perception to alert the parent whenever the child has a ‘message’ in its nappy.
All of these ideas are available to the highest bidder. Perhaps the likes of Google and Apple will realise that necessity is always more marketable that creating a want where none previously existed. So if you’ll excuse me, that beeping noise is the mini baguette just baked in my suit jacket pocket.