SXSW is all about thinking outside the box. Actually, it's all about the BBQ, craft beers and parties. Then after that, it's about thinking outside the box.
After sitting through roughly 167 panels over four days that were supposedly wearable tech themed, our conclusion was that Frogdesign were the biggest box avoiders of all.
Adam Pruden, senior interaction designer at Frog, took to the SXSW Interactive stage for a session titled Wearable Drones: High-Flying Fashion and, in 15 minutes, proceeded to blow everyone's minds.
Pruden said we're entering a "post smartphone era" and that personal computing was set to dramatically change in the next 15 years.
"We discovered several clues that one day drones might become the next personal computers," he stated. His reasoning was that drones, and particularly wearable drones, could not only perform the tasks of a smartphone, they could go above and beyond what we expect from our handsets.
"In fact, the drone that may replace your smartphone is already evolving from it," he explained. "Smartphones have led to huge advances in things like chip-mounted gyroscopes, accelerometers, and batteries. This same technology is being paired with quadcopters, essentially creating flying smartphones."
Frog Design decided to imagine 16 wearable drones that could become common place by 2030 and, for its Wearable Drones in the City project, produce detailed concepts of the product series.
"Wearable Drones in the City is a product series from Frogdesign that envisions a future urban landscape in which our personal devices have become loosely bound to us," explained Pruden.
"Unlike the stationary smart devices of today that only support us digitally and live in our pockets or strapped to our wrists, these smart devices of the future incorporate autonomous flying technologies to reach beyond the limitations of the human body in order to enhance our everyday interactions with the city," he added.
Here's what the tech-futurist had to say about four of the concepts...
"Flare is a wearable drone that assists with navigation in the city. This compass-inspired drone is made of glass and metal that clicks into an acrylic palm strap. The owner instructs the drone where to go via voice control and launches the drone with a quick flick of the wrist. After launching, the glass illuminates and rotates within the metal ring. The drone guides its owner through the city by flying several meters ahead until they reach their destination."
"Breathe is a wearable drone that protects against air pollution in the city. This oval-shaped drone is made from a flexible plastic 'lung' and contains a small propeller at its base for both flight and air intake. It gently rests on its owner's shoulder while monitoring the level of air pollution nearby. When levels become too polluted, the drone launches from the shoulder to supply fresh, filtered air by hovering several inches in front of its owner's mouth."
"Scout is a wearable drone that facilitates exercise and play in the city. This drone is a highly durable sphere with a rugged rubber case, and it snaps into a magnetized clip that doubles as a health monitor. Once thrown into the air, Scout's propellers expand and it quickly becomes a fast-paced rock climbing game. The drone projects an interactive interface onto the cliff face and maps out a route that challenges the user's endurance and pace."
"Parasol is a wearable drone that shields against weather in the city. This drone takes on a compact, cylindrical form and is made of gold as if it were a highly fashionable piece of jewelry. The drone hooks onto a belt or necklace and uses onboard humidity sensors and a thermometer to signal the exact moment it needs to protect against solar rays, rain or snow. After launching, the drone's propellers spread into a large disk, adjusting its position to continuously shield off the elements."
Remember, these were just 4 of 16 designs that Frogdesign has been exploring. "Some wearable drones will be invisible, indiscernible from typical articles of clothing and accessories, while other will be displayed proudly on various locations of the body," Pruden claims.
"Clothing, jewellery, watches, arm-bands, leg-bands, hats, helmets will be powered by flight to expand the current capabilities of body-confined wearable tech."
What do you think? Are we looking at a wearable drone invasion? Give us your thoughts below....
Image credits: Jenny Savage, JungSoo Park, Jessica Covi, Reid Schlegel - Frogdesign.