If you’re looking for a great Christmas gift for a special someone, you might consider the new “Twitter dress”. The BBC did a three and a half minute video showing it in action. The “Twitter dress” displays an animated series of controllable lights in various displays of an LED style of lights, with the capability of displaying tweets or other messages received in real time. It also can take photos.
The name “Twitter dress” comes from the London launch event of the new 4G service of UK mobile network Everything Everywhere. The launch event featured Nicole Scherzinger, the former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. (Some still blame Nicole for the breakup of the band, but that’s another story.) Scherzinger’s dress drew a great deal of attention at the EE 4G launch, with its flashing lights and ability to display tweets in real time, and triggered a lot of buzz in the Twitterverse during the live event. This all just happened in November, so we’ll see if the name “Twitter dress” sticks, but for now, that’s what it seems to be known as.
I first saw a wearable computer at COMDEX in the 1990’s in Las Vegas. A company called Xybernaut seemed to be leading the field. I remember exiting the COMDEX convention one night, and finding a “booth babe” standing just outside of the convention center. Imagine a vast concerete and stone patio, under the dark night desert sky, with the balmy warm breezes of Nevada gently blowing. In the distance were the lights of the convention center in one direction, the lights of the casinos in another direction, but standing between them on the patio, a surreal tall cylinder, about ten feet high, cut open on one side, and looking like a Star Trek-style teleporter device, large enough for only one person to stand in. A few dramatic beams of light shown straight down from the inside ceiling of the cylinder, down through the dark onto the person standing inside, who was just waiting there for whoever might happen to walk by as they exited the convention – as I was doing. She was a pretty model, of course, with long flowing hair, dressed in a form-fitting costume like Batgirl from the 1968 Batman TV series, complete with a utility belt to house her wearable CPU, as well as storage and other devices, with a fascinating monocle over one eye for her heads-up display (HUD), and a tiny joystick in her left hand, like something you might use to operate an old racing slot-car. I found the monocle a bit hard to use, I could tell it would take getting used to, but I thought the potential was fascinating. It was one of the more compelling displays I’ve seen at technical conference, as you may have surmised by now. But it was also the last time I saw anything about wearable computers at a technical conference. I think the rise of mobile devices made the wearable computer concept a bit irrelevant.
But is that changing now? With new advances in the miniaturization of cameras, displays, controllers, and other devices, and the widespread adaptation of hand-held devices – and therefore public acceptance of these products – we may soon see the “Twitter dress” and other developments gain traction with end-users. I think it’s inevitable that technology will merge with clothes, fashion, and other forms of personal expression and interactive communication.