RE-STOKED: Reader Mail! Plus, a different way to think about wearable technology

So last week we listed some really lovely ways to engage non-coders, young coders, tiny tots and big kids with the wonderful world of coding, hardware and even robotics. Which is fun because we like to play with all those wonderful toys ourselves. But it was even better when we got this note from a good friend:

"I have two amazing daughters who, as it happens, are both turning out to be math whizzes... I had already been thinking about coding as the next logical step, but I’m a writer not a math guy, and didn’t know where to begin. Now I’m looking at some of these sites you’ve highlighted and it’s amazing. I think I can help them learn to code as they get older."

Second, it's getting clearer to people that the ability to make software and hardware do what you want is not just this quirky hobby that some especially nerdy kids have, but that those skills are a very exciting (and hard! but fun!) path to interesting lives and work. 

And third, it seems like one of the cultural shifts that started at least as early as the introduction of the iMac is the notion that technology does not have to be boxy, beige, or something you should hide from polite company. In other words, it is not the sole province of people who can see the mystery and magic and possibility of technology even behind the cold, hard veneer of gray powder-coated steel.


So: How do we design wearable technology that is genuinely useful? That is ergonomic? That is beautiful? We've ordered a Ringly (where is it?!!), and backed Plumora on Indiegogo. Despite a lot of manufacturing, funding and distribution setbacks, we keep buying Everpurses

And yet, so many wearables are just variations on the wrist watch, or the health monitoring cuff.

So we're super interested in an entirely different definition of "wearable technology".  In this case, the wearable part is not new - shirts, shoes, bras, etc., but technology somehow makes the wearable thing better: more comfortable, more versatile, more personal, more useful, more life-saving. It's this possibility that gets us most excited. Which is why we'd like to call your attention toAmanda Parkes (of Thesis Couture, Skinteractive Studio andManufacture New York). She and her colleagues in these organizations are reinventing familiar wearable objects with technology to design more comfortable high heels, responsive underwires, batteries that look like pieces of cloth, conductive textiles, and so on.

So while we're totally ready for a waterproof UP band, and can't wait to get our rings and clutches and bracelets, we're most excited about how technology and design will improve the wearable things we take for granted today.  Even more exciting - it looks like the fashion designer of the future will have to know industrial design and yes, coding.