Disruptive Wearables: Fighting Tech With Tech

July 31, 2014 | 21:28
Disruptive Wearables: Fighting Tech With Tech
Disruptive Wearables: Fighting Tech With Tech
Adafruit Industries' Becky Stern gave a talk at HOPE X about using DIY wearable technologies to reclaim autonomy in an increasingly invasive-tech infested world. The many examples she presented such as signal-blocking garments and zipper-operated TV-B-Gones sewed into jackets show that wearables are far more interesting than the disproportionate attention given to proprietary fitness bracelets and smart watches lets on.

Becky Stern is Director of Wearable Electronics at Adafruit Industries, the company that delivers an endless stream of electronic projects and DIY kits. She is also an artist who combines traditional crafts like knitting & embroidery with electronics and computer technology. The coat-mounted TV-B-Gone mentioned above is of her making.

The talk she presented at HOPE X, the tenth Hackers On PLanet Earth conference in New York City, is well worth the watch. With pictures and video she manages to open up a world of DIY wearables geared toward gaining and regaining autonomy.

She recounts the eyewriter project, a pair of glasses enhanced with technology that enabled graffiti artist TEMPT1, who is almost completely paralyzed by ALS disease, to create art with his eyes. The eyewriter was made by members of a group called free art and technology (FAT) using $50 in components and a computer. TEMPT1 could see his own creations on the street again when his eyewriter-aided work was projected on a building and the event was live streamed to his bedroom.

Then there is search the work of Ayah Bdeir, a tool to empower those frequently singled out at airports and security points for secondary screening. search is an undergarment enhanced with sensors recording the physical contact of pat-downs. The body suit can serve as evidence of inappropriate or unjustified searches. Bdeir also created stealth-wear to hide heat signatures from surveillance drones.

Stern shows a variety of signal-blocking cloths to prevent adversaries from reading out your phone and in the future – Stern fears – from gaining unauthorized access to radio technology enabled body implants. And then there's... well, just watch the talk.

Image: adafruit.com & makezine.com
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