For a while now, the tech world has been obsessed with “wearables” — smartwatches, body-monitoring wrist bands, Google Glass, and other devices that you can wear on your person to make technology more readily available. “Wearable tech,” it’s often called.
But some of the most interesting gadgetized accessories these days have an unusual twist: Their real function is to thwart or disabletechnology.
Call it the rise of wearable anti-tech.
These experiments, which range from the practical to the theatrical, all have one thing in common: They respond to the annoyances, incursions, and even threats of technology with clever technology jujitsu.
They represent the latest that technology has to offer to get rid of the latest that technology has to offer.
Sometimes it takes the form of a weapon in a more quotidian battle over technological control — as in the ridiculously appealing TV-B-Gone hoodie, which embeds a universal remote in a sweatshirt and uses conductive thread to turn a zipper into an off switch for irritating television sets.
That one is from Becky Stern, who among other things is director of wearable electronics at the endlessly impressive DIY-tech site Adafruit.
“As we lose agency over our devices (NSA spying, operating systems phoning home even in airplane mode, etc.), we’re seeing folks take DIY actions to reclaim ownership over their devices and privacy, sometimes as artistic and political statements too,” Stern told me.
“When you can’t trust your phone, but it becomes a necessary evil in your life, it makes a lot of sense that you’d want to have a way to take total control over it. This troubled relationship is very fertile ground for artists and hackers right now.”