Part One // Smart Watches, Wearables, and That Nasty Data Rash

Part One // Smart Watches, Wearables, and That Nasty Data Rash

da•ta rash \ˈdātə ˈrash\, n. an irritating or unsightly eruption of information on the wrist or other site of wearable technology.

We find the idea of data rash to be extremely compelling, so we’re featuring a series of posts in which IoT usability expert (and our emerging platforms advisor) Josh Clark dives into the idea. 

Every technology has its toxic byproducts and associated maladies. The pollutants of the industrial era cursed us with black lung, lead poisoning, radiation sickness and more. Now the information age threatens to ding us with the damaging, if less deadly, ailments of data pollution.

For all the remarkable opportunities that information technology has unlocked, it’s hard to dispute the downside of our diminished ability to focus, to find calm, to connect with the people we care about. As social networks spew a dazzling blizzard of text, images and alerts, we’re buried under the impossibility of consuming those messages as quickly as they are produced. Online, we enjoy the illusion of companionship without the demands or benefits of friendship. Offline, we test our genuine friendships by gazing into glass slabs instead of enjoying one another’s company.

And now here come the wearables. I’m a technologist, an enthusiast, an optimist. I’m beside myself about the possibilities of ubiquitous computing. But I’m also concerned that the first generation of wearable gadgets is buffeting the body in unintended ways, like so many other technologies that came before. Will our skin burn with bubbling boils of data? Will our ears buzz with non-stop notifications? Will our eyes flicker with the alerts streaming across the clothing and accessories of others?

There are so many opportunities in the fact that we can now wear data. But the risk is that it will wear us.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Careful, humane design can give us the benefits of wearing data without allowing information poisoning to seep beyond the screen and into our physical selves.

Some suggestions: design for pre-attention; design for fashion; design for identity; design for the individual; and design to amplify our humanity.

Next, we’ll dive deeply into these different ways to design for IoE and wearable tech. You can read the article in it’s entirety here.

Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave.  Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.