AirWaves-Shanghai
Frog calls AirWaves a "contemporary pollution mask." Particle sensors measure air quality in real time, then feed that geolocated data to the cloud.

The result is a network of air data, built from very specific niches. Culturally, AirWaves plays to the skepticism of the Chinese of "faceless data."

Mnemo-Amsterdam
Cross a fitness band, a social network, and a friendship bracelet. What you get is Mnemo. It’s a means to record memories--audio, video, and the friends you’re with--through a simple interaction with your wristband. And it can be personalized, much like a friendship bracelet, with colored string.

You’ll still need a phone for many functions (like snagging videos), but physical gestures drive the interface. For instance, by linking two bracelets, friends can create multiple perspectives of the same moment.

CompassGo-Milan
Even in the age of GPS, to explore cities today, Frog points out our tendency to "pre-Google" our destinations. What’s lost? The feelings of spontaneity and exploration.

CompassGo chooses a simple category (like culture, food, or relaxation), displays that category with an icon, then points you the way to your next adventure.

Hello World DIY-Seattle
How do you get tweenage girls interested in technology? Sew it into their clothing. This is a kit of "accessible Arduino projects" that are wearable without programming skills.

Icho-Munich
This navigation aid for the vision-impaired not only enhances perception through sonar proximity sensors, but it uses a combination of GPS, accelerometers, and haptic feedback to lead its user through an urban environment. Imagine a museum audiotour that you can hear and feel.

Kinetik-San Francisco
Kinetik is basically a backup battery for your phone. Its twist?

You wear Kinetic through your life while it harnesses your natural kinetic energy. Fitness becomes a "tangible reward"--and with a bit of extra battery power, you won’t have to worry about your phone running out of juice during an extended adventure.

A companion app builds a network of location-based energy patterns. I imagine it’d be a lot of fun to see the wattage produced at a mass sporting event like a marathon.

MTA Relay-New York
Relay is a band to help navigate New York’s transit system. Its three strands hide dynamic displays, which will glow with the colors of nearby lines and transfers, while providing up-to-date scheduling information.

Over time, the band actually learns your commuting patterns. The only catch? It would rely heavily on underground infrastructure, like RFID or other radio technology, to keep the band in the know beneath layers of asphalt and concrete.

Tree Voice-Austin
What if trees could talk? That’s sort of the idea behind Tree Voice, a wearable for nature.

Its sensors collect data on the environment like noise, temperature, and pollution. And it "sparks" to life with motion sensors and a display for passersby.

Together, these tree bands form a giant network of environmental data that can reveal more about our neighborhoods. Frog imagines a new wave of data to influence everything from government policy to where you buy your next house. To me, it’s a digital equivalent to the networked heart trees in Game of Thrones.

Co.Design

8 Brilliant Concepts For The Future Of Wearable Tech

Legendary design studio Frog held an internal competition to conceptualize the most innovative wearables. Here’s what their studios worldwide came up with.

Wearables are taking over. Whether it’s the Jawbone Up or an Apple iWatch, gadgets that live on our bodies will give rise to a level of data about ourselves and our environments that we’ve never had before. But is there more to the equation than fancy pedometers, GPS devices, and calorie-counters. Can wearables really do something new?

That was basically the question posed to the eight global studios of Frog. Each, with their unique regional perspective, would put their best idea forward in what would make a sort of worldwide latticework of what wearables can be, while developing some common design threads that could guide Frog moving forward.

“Maybe the biggest lesson was learning how to design in the most minimal form possible,” Chief Creative Officer Mark Rolston tells Co.Design. “Most of our day is spent rendering information onto screens. In that sense, we can rely on a good level of fidelity when it comes to presenting information and framing user interaction. But with this new category, the products must implicitly rely upon less fidelity to get things done. They have smaller screens, or no screen at all. They have less compute and network resource to draw on, and they are intended to be operated with less attention.”

This new interface is built on a whole line of low-fi, low-cognition interfaces that Frog calls phatic cues. And they play perfectly into the more organic forms that Frog is exploring here, that tend to bend the rules of rectangular glass into circles and curves, relying less on touch screens than we have for the approximate last decade.

“Some are exploring other cues like vibration, sound, or light to communicate with the user,” Rolston writes. “We predict an explosion of these types of solutions in the coming few years. We’re right at the cusp of this.”

Now, if you haven’t perused the gallery yet, know that the winners definitely push the boundaries of “wearable.” (For instance, one entry is a little gadget that clips onto your bike, while another is a huge band that wraps around the trunk of a tree!) But to Frog, that’s okay. When modeling the future--any future--it doesn’t make sense to feel confined to the scaffolding from the past.

“Yes, a few are borderline ‘wearable,’” concedes Rolston. “Once we had established the project framework, we let our teams go where the designs take them. That’s just a good design practice.”

See more here.

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9 Comments

  • Dave Cutler

    Our wearable tech has the possibility of saving lives and preventing needless tragedies. iSwimband is a headband and/or a wristband that works with smart devices to let caregivers know if a non-swimmer has fallen into water or if a swimmer has been submerged for a dangerous period of time. It addresses drowning, the second leading cause of accidental death of children in the U.S. While nothing replaces diligent human supervision, iSwimband helps caregivers detect a possible emergency that they could have otherwise missed (drowning is extremely hard to pick up on, even for trained lifeguards). The app also reminds caregivers to keep an eye on people around water. Learn more at iSwimband.com.

  • Rumusicmajor

    Where did that kit come from? I work with Lilypad, but that one looks pretty awesome, can you please direct me toward it?

  • vanessarae

    Awesome! I made a wearable Twitter tech in 2010 called the Tweet Sleeve, Arduino's are fun!