Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Jammer Coat: High Fashion meets Wearable Technology & Privacy

You might not think the SumRando blog would be the ultimate source for high fashion.  For the most part, you would be right.  We wanted to share an interesting story about a concept related to wearable technology.  It's no secret that people are betting that a boom of wearable technology such as Google Glass is inevitable.  Wired Magazine recently did a cover story on the topic, and there are hosts of new startups looking to revolutionize technology on your body.

A new concept out of Vienna suggests wearable technology might start to be reflecting the diversity of potential consumers as it relates to privacy.  Just as some prefer slacks to jeans, wearable technology fashion could accommodate those who want to be more connected to others and those who want to remain undetectable.

Vienna-based Coop Himmelblau's Jammer Coat
Fast Company reports on a new "invisibility cloak for the digital age" out of Vienna.  They share, "Vienna-based architectural design firm Coop Himmelblau has come up with a CHBL Jammer Coat that lets you disappear, sort of. Unlike wearable tech like Google Glass, meant to better connect you to the world, the Jammer Coat makes you utterly untrackable."

Coop Himmelblau describes their Jammer Coat concept with the following:
"The CHBL Jammer Coat is a piece of clothing that enables its user to disappear: Google cannot find you anymore. The piece is made of metallized fabrics, which are blocking radio waves and shielding the wearer against tracking devices. You are no longer reachable on your mobile phone and no information from your credit card can be captured. The Wave Circle pattern of the fabric gives an illusion of strange multiple body parts, which hides and frees the individual physicality."
The Jammer Coat highlights an interesting parallel between transportable technology and wearable technology: The spectrum of privacy needs/desires and people's action's to carry out those desires.  Fashion in many ways acts as an interesting metaphor for people's preferences when it comes to the internet.  Certain services and routines are trendy ("fashionable"), which is why users will often go to great lengths -- or be willing to sacrifice a great deal -- in order to remain in step with the latest service.  Others are more selective about what technology they trust and use, amassing a set of tools and apps that seem attractive to like-minded people.
The Jammer Coat would shroud your devices from detection.

Jammer Coat is important because of the impending growth in wearable technology.  Just as good art and design should, Jammer Coat pushes us to examine or re-examine our contexts and the ways in which we view the world.  This piece might suggest to some that those of us concerned about privacy advocate for more Jammer Coats (though more colorful and more flattering) at the advent of widespread consumption of wearable technology.

What if by doing so we suggest a lack of privacy options is a wearable technology fashion faux pas?  The fear of your data being exposed is as real as the fear you've mismatched your outfit at work -- or, more fittingly -- left a zipper open.  Unfortunately, there are millions of "zippers down" today and too little messaging that leaving one's zipper down is not just a faux pas but a potentially destructive and dangerous mistake.

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