Why looking backwards is the key to winning wearable technology

Wearable technology makers need to spend more time looking to the past if they are to make tech that people want to wear, according to Intel chief evangelist and futurist Steve Brown.

Speaking at today’s Wearable Technology Show in London, Brown argued that designers of wearables need to focus more on making products that people want to wear, and suggested that historic designs could be a key source of inspiration.

He said that failure to do this is the reason why many wearables have failed to achieve success.

“Wearables do much more for us than just function,” he said.


Brown pointed to examples of design from history where function is only one of several benefits.

One of these was the armour of King Henry VIII, the Tudor king of England famous his many wives and his rejection of the Catholic church. Brown highlighted how the king’s armour was designed not only for protection but also to convey identity, power and myth to support his image as supreme ruler of the kingdom.

In using this and other examples, Brown showed how wearables have to convey an identity, status and attitude for people to want to wear them.

“A lot of the wearables that have come out have failed because they don’t take these other factors into account,” he said.

“Wearables will only be successful when they do things that people really care about.”


Designers may have to work quickly if they are to capture the hearts and minds of people first.

Processors and other hardware are getting smaller and smaller, meaning that within a decade Brown believes there will be a computer in practically everything.

As with Apple and tablet computers, it seems likely that the company that figures out wearable tech on a large-scale will be the one that gets to forge the way this plays out.

Brown suggests that adding meaning and value is key to this, so any tech that is too nerdy in appearance will fail because it won’t be meaningful to the majority of consumers.

However, none of the big brand outputs have really broken free from the ‘nerdy tech’ bubble: Google Glass is certainly in this mould, and other big-name peripherals still appear to have been tailored to appeal to tech-forward sectors of society.

Perhaps the companies that really break through on wearable tech won’t be the big boys. A whole host of startups are working in the field, and the true innovation could well come from this sector.

Intel must have similar feelings: the company has launched its Make it Wearable challenge to find innovative software and hardware in the field, and with $1.3m up for grabs the challenge could well unearth some remarkable tech.

Armour image courtesy of KatieTheBeau / Flickr under Creative Commons Licence .

Featured image and video courtesy of Intel: Make It project

In pictures: Hubble Telescope releases stunning new image to celebrate 24 years in orbit

In April the Hubble telescope, which has been in orbit since 1990, will turn 24 and to celebrate this momentous occasion Nasa has released a new image from the telescope.

The image is part of NGC 2174, which is most commonly known as the Monkey Head Nebula. The colourful region is filled with young stars.

The latest release shows colourful plumes of gas and fiery bright stars in the nebula.

The Hubble Space Telescope, a 2.4m aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, was carried into orbit by a space shuttle. It has four main instruments which observe near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra.

New Hubble image of NGC 2174

The new image of NGC 2174, which lies about 6400 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Orion. The key ingredient in tNGC 2174 is hydrogen gas, which is ionised by radiation emitted by the young stars.

Image courtesy of Nasa, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).


This image shows a wide field view of NGC 2174. The region of sky surrounding NGC 2174 is more commonly known as the Money Head Nebula. The small square near the centre of the image shows the location of the previous photo.

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech

Visible and Infrared Comparison of NGC 2174

This image shows the visible and infrared comparison of the same detailed area in the star-forming nebula NGC 2174. Located on the left is a visible-light image and on the right is the infrared version. Infrared light penetrates more dust and gas than visible light allowing details to become visible.

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and J. Hester

Location of the Hubble IR Detail in NGC 2174

The image on the right shows the region of NGC 2174 taken in infrared. The left image comes from a ground based image taken by an amateur astrophotographer – the square shows the region where the Hubble’s photograph is located.

Image courtesy of  NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Crisp

Featured image courtesy of European Space Agency