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Tue, 14 Jan 14

Wearables Retro Style

CES 2014 cranked up the buzz on wearables. Watches, earbuds, bands and buttons to track all your activity and notify you of everything. Your mom is calling the phone in your pocket; your baby just turned over in the crib; someone is at your front door; and oh, your dog is slowing down.

Amidst this dogpile of vendors rushing into the hyped up growth market of the future, it is time to cast a critical eye on wearables and take a stand on style.

Clearly, insiders already sense that we are currently doing it wrong. As Intel’s Mike Bell puts it:

“The hype just gets bigger and bigger and bigger – to ever achieve that, you need to think about the whole life cycle, the whole washing it, charging it, cleaning it, storing it. You need to actually think about every aspect of what somebody’s going to do with that, not just ‘Hey, isn’t that cool.’”

All true, and well put. Except all those things can contribute to cool. And sometimes cool is arbitrary. Snowboarder cool is different from skier cool. Even on the same cold slopes. What it means is that cool wearables will be a mix of 20% tech and 80% fashion.

Fashion seems to like retro, and perhaps wearables can swing a retro resurgence. We are not talking 30 years here; think 300 year retro. Why? Imagine the amount of surface area available for wearables when all that is old and outdated becomes vogue. All kinds of ornaments and accoutrements. Not just rings and bracelets, or even armbands and spaulders. The hat and the walking stick might make a come back. And tiaras and crowns top the whole look perfectly while holding directional and line of sight antennas.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Alas, retro style will never take off within our current implementations. If your bland band is talking to the smartphone in your pocket, which in turns sends everything to a cloud server, there is no reason to have more wearable surface for stashing a lot of computing logic.

Which is exactly why, even the tech style needs to go retro. As in 30 years ago, when we had truly personal computers, and software that we owned ran locally, without phoning home to some server.

Now that would be futuristic!

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