What we’ll be wearing

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All the talk in the high tech press at the moment is about wearable computing. There is already the Pebble watch, which allows you to monitor your online activity on your wrist.

Apple are rumoured to be working on a similar device.

Then there are fitness and health devices like the Nike Fuelband which monitors how much exercise you are doing, and how effective it is.

The Memoto is a wearable camera that is constantly taking pictures – the aim being that you’ll never miss the opportunity to relive a moment.

Perhaps the most sophisticated of the emerging wearable technologies is Google’s Glass – a headset that allows the wearer to pull up information, maps, social networks and take photos through a mixture of spoken instructions and a touchpad on the side of the device.

I must admit that, even as a fan of new technology, the thought of walking around covered in internet enabled wristbands, watches and headsets, or with a camera attached to my chest is not one that I find alluring.

All these devices generate huge amounts of data about their wearers, what they do, and the people around them. This makes possible the concept of the “quantified self” where individuals can record and analyse data about their lives with a view to improving them.

All the content can be instantly uploaded to the internet, so it can be shared on Facebook, for instance – or stored online for later retrieval.

Privacy campaigners, however, are concerned about the potential impact of these devices, especially on those who choose not to wear them, but nonetheless get recorded on others’.

Also, who owns the data recorded and stored in “the cloud”?

There will certainly need to be some ethics and etiquette in place.

We are still a few years away from having wearable computing devices available to consumers in large numbers. However, with the amount of investment going into their development, we shouldn’t be surprised if they soon become as ubiquitous as smartphones – bringing with them opportunity and concern in equal measure.

Perhaps though the biggest issue with these devices is just how silly they make the wearer look.

In the future of wearable computing, will everyone look like a dork?