9 iconic video game wearables (and how long until we can have them)

Games are full of awesome wearable tech, but how realistic are they?
Iconic video game wearables

Ever since Metroid's hero Samus Aran first strapped on her power suit in 1986, video games have been full of awesome wearable tech that we've wanted to play with.

Sadly, not much of it has manifested in the real world, but that hasn't stopped us longing for all of these gadgets to leap from fiction to reality. It can only be a matter of time, right?

Read next: Inside Europe's first IMAX Experience Center

So, we got in touch with Richard Watson, author of the book Digital Vs Human, to rate how far we are along the path to getting some of video games' most iconic wearable gizmos. Here's what we discovered.

The Codec - Metal Gear franchise

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"The codec directly stimulates the small bones of your ear. No one but you will be able to hear it." – Colonel Roy Campbell, Metal Gear Solid

The various protagonists of the stealth-action Metal Gear series generally keep in touch with their support teams by codec – a nanomachine-based communication device that nestles in the inner ear. Through the course of the games' many, many codec conversations, Solid Snake and friends discuss everything from nuclear disarmament to Alaskan field mice.

Richard says:

"Why you wouldn't just use headphones?"

"I have come across narrowcasting of sound, which is a similar idea. Basically, you have to walk through what is essentially a beam of sound in order to be able to hear it (although maybe in the future the beam could be detected?)."

Chance of happening:

"Less than 10%."

Alco Patch - Grand Theft Auto 4

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"It's the same refreshing feeling of your favourite drink, but delivered transdermally and discreetly." - Grand Theft Auto 4

One of Grand Theft Auto 4's many radio adverts extols the virtues of the Alco Patch. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like – like a nicotine patch, but for booze.

Richard says:

"… Why do this? Why not just have a drink? Potentially rather dangerous too, if alcohol were administered directly into the bloodstream."

Chance of happening:

"Less than 10%."

Laser Watch - GoldenEye 007

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"Good luck with the floor, James. It shouldn't take more than a minute." - Alec Trevelyan, GoldenEye 007

Made famous in both the film and the utterly unforgettable Nintendo 64 game, James Bond's laser-mounted wristwatch is notable for being able to slice through the steel floor of a moving train.

Richard says:

"Doubt you'd be able to create the power required."

Chance of it happening:

"Less than 10%."


Stealth camouflage -Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"We don't have the processor power yet to let adaptive camo function while you're moving fast. But for when you're holding position or taking it slow, it's the next best thing to being invisible." - Senior Sergeant Marcus Kelso, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Appearing in almost too many games to count, stealth camouflage is essentially the cyberpunk version of Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, using projection, light refraction or similar tech to conceal its wearer from prying eyes.

Sometimes it's a suit, sometimes it's a little clip-on gadget, but it's always a hell of a lot of fun. Punching people while invisible would never get old. In, err, video games, we mean.

Richard says:

"This is deadly serious and happening now. I've seen clothing, and whole tanks, that essentially capture a still or video of the immediate environment and then project this back onto themselves to 'disappear'."

Chance of happening:

"100%."

Added Reality Interface - Heavy Rain

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"Step one, change the office." – Agent Norman Jayden, Heavy Rain

In mystery noir game Heavy Rain, FBI agent Norman Jayden is testing out a device called the ARI. When he puts on the required glasses and glove, he is able to see and interact with a virtual interface that allows him to reconstruct crime scenes and examine their data in microscopic detail.

Of course, it does come with debilitating side-effects that can lead to the user developing a serious drug dependency, as well as the odd bout of blood from the eyes - but let's not get caught up in the minor details.

Richard says:

"Interesting. I think games that are a mix of the real and the virtual (and augmented) will happen. Essentially take a physical environment, add a VR suit plus a helmet, but also feed back biometric data so that the user response influences what happens to or in the environment."

Chance of it happening:

"More than 70%."

The Nanosuit - Crysis series

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"Maximum speed." –Crysis

Video games of course have no shortage of suits and garments that allow humans to act like superhumans. Still, if you had to pick one, the CryNet Nanosuit from the Crysis series is a pretty safe bet. Using versatile CryFibril muscle fibres, it can transform into armour, give its user super-strength or super-speed, helping them stay stealthy and sneaky.

Richard says:

"I can kind of see this one happening – not so much superhero status, but perhaps improved mobility for people with certain diseases, or clothing that stimulates blood flow, or maybe even muscles so you don't have to exercise – useful if a person was bed-bound."

Chance of it happening:

"More than 70%."

Nano-augmented vision - Deus Ex

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"My new partner, JC Denton. Don't tell me you're going to wear those sunglasses during a night operation." – Anna Navarre, Deus Ex

"My vision is augmented." – J.C. Denton

In the dystopian cyberpunk conspiracy-fest Deus Ex, protagonist J.C. Denton is one of a new breed of "nano augs" – humans who have been fitted with microscopic technologies that upgrade their capabilities and allow them to perform superhuman feats.

One of these is Vision Enhancement, implanted eyes that allow the user to see in the dark. If the player chooses to upgrade the augmentation, they can add infrared vision and even sonar imaging.

Richard says:

"I can see this happening. Implants are a bit full on, but maybe we'll start with glasses and contacts and then move on."

Chance of happening:

"50%."

The Omni-tool - Mass Effect series

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"Good to see you again, Tali." – Kaidan Alenko, Mass Effect 3

"You too, Kaidan. How's the omni-tool? Still using Logic Arrest?" – Tali'Zorah nar Rayya,

Essentially, this is space-hero Commander Shepard's wrist-mounted do-everything tool. Need to hack into a secure computer? Omni-tool. Need to quickly manufacture more ammo? Omni-tool. Messed up the ending and accidentally got your space-boyfriend Thane carted off by space-bees? Well… the omni tool can't help with that. But everything else – sorted.

Richard says:

"No. Too many things going on here, and we are simply decades away from objects that can reassemble themselves in a Transformer-like manner. Not impossible though. Wrist-mounted weapons – yes. A wearable device that facilitates hacking – maybe (though I can't quite see the logic there)."

Chance of it happening:

"Less than 5%."

The Evoker Collar - Persona 3

9 Iconic Video Game Wearables (Ranked by How Close They Are to Happening)

"That collar is designed to help control his Persona. In other words, it's an Evoker for dogs." – Mitsuru Kirijo, Persona 3

In Atlus's ridiculous and wonderful Persona games, you control a motley band of anime teens who must save the world from monsters while passing their school exams.

To accomplish the former, they have the help of summonable brain demons called "personas". In Persona 3 they call forth gadgets called "evokers", which resemble small handguns. When a dog named Koromaru joins the party, the team fashion him a wearable collar that lets him communicate with and summon his persona using just a thought.

Richard says:

"Oh please! Though a real Doctor Dolittle device that actually worked would be hugely impactful if ever invented. What is more likely is a collar or wearable device for humans that shows the emotional state or unexpressed feelings of the user – much more likely given that we already are working on ways for machines to detect emotional state of the user (see Microsoft, Toyota – allegedly)."

Chance of happening:

"If humans, more than 50% chance. If animals, less than 5% chance." [Note: Richard Watson is here referring to the thought-communication abilities of the device, not its ability to summon brain demons.]

Which iconic devices did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.


What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.