Rose Matthews

What are you wearing?

This week’s major smart watch unveiling has sent tech bloggers everywhere into a frenzy of opinion giving. But to those who took part in the March Wearables Sydney meetup, it’s old news.

During last week’s event at Fjord’s Sydney studio, Rob Manson from BuildAR kicked off with a potted history of wearable technology, from the finger abacus of the 12th century to Rob Spence with his Eyeborg project and the Nixie, grand prize winner of HP’s Wear It Smart contest that takes ‘smart watch’ to a new level, incorporating a mini drone into a wrist device enabling the owner to photograph themselves hands-free.

2014 saw great excitement in the field of wearable technology, with major players starting to take the concept seriously. A huge variety of devices were developed and released for use on every part of the human body. Some 142 devices were made available to purchase for use on the wrist alone, and the benefits to people with physical impairments are clear, not just in bionic developments and medical implants but in designs like the Alert Shirt that allow visually impaired sports fans to immerse themselves more fully in the experience.

Rob was kind enough to bring along to the event the Samsung Gear VR – a new immersion device comparable to Occulus Rift but using your smart phone as a display screen. As usual, we queued up to give it a go!

We also heard from Andrew Stapleton, who worked with his 8-year-old daughter to create a Mood Dress for Sydney’s Mini Maker Faire last year. The innovative dress hooks up to a Brainwave sensor and pulse detector to display LEDs that change colour and flash according to the wearer’s level of excitement, and we were lucky enough to have a Q&A session that revealed some of the trials and difficulties this daddy-daughter pair had in perfecting their creation.

What really makes Sydney Wearables exciting though is the range of people it draws. We have such a pool of talent in this city – people who take simple technology and design new applications for it. Walking around the room I found myself speaking to fashion designers, user experience specialists, software engineers and people with very messy basements. And many other people like me who just love their Pebbles and are keen to see what comes next.

So what will you be wearing in 2015?

The next Wearables Sydney meetup will be held in Fjord’s studio at Pyrmont on Wednesday 6 May, 6pm.

Sydney wearables meetup2 Sydney wearables meetup1

All photo credits: Michael Thompson

Rose Matthews

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