Like any new technology, wearables are going to have their nichey phase. Desperate to jump on an already overloaded bandwagon, crazy inventors are likely to come up with some really bonkers ideas that they think the general public will lap up. Thanks to Kickstarter these weird wearables are put on full display on the internet too, while previously they would have just forever inhabited an inventor’s workshop.
The flip side to this is that there are some genuinely decent niche wearables out there, which provide useful functions - analysing bodily fluids or UV and radiation levels, for instance. If there’s a problem with these it’s that they tend to be incorporated into bigger corporations’ wearables, but the inventors still get a nice big payout.
Here we take a look at the genuine oddities of wearable tech that appear to serve a really specific purpose.
According to Mood Ring’s inventor Moodmetric everyone carries an “emotional voltage” which can be measured and represented with this piece of electronic finger jewellery. It also connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app which shows your current state of mind in the shape of a “mood flower.”
It’s an update on the mood ring fad of the 1970s, which used a temperature-reactive coloured liquid crystal to represent the wearer’s emotion state, but this one has Bluetooth so it’s obviously infinitely better.
Tech giant and wearable pioneer Sony has recently filed a patent for a technologically-augmented wig. The electronic hairpiece comes with in three different models - one features a GPS chip and directs the wearer with vibrations, one which can keep an eye on blood pressure, and one which can fire lasers and flip through presentations by touching the wearer’s false sideburns.
No, honestly. Baldies had better not get their hopes up just yet, though - Sony does have a habit of filing a patent for every idea it drunkenly scribbles on a napkin at 2am.
Walking is one of those things most of us have been doing during our whole lives, but according to Arki we’ve got it all wrong. This wrist-worn wearable aims to correct that by analysing your posture and gait, and then offering haptic feedback and suggested exercises so you can correct bad habits.
It’s also ripe for hacking by fans of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.
Fasten TZOA to a backpack or jacket and it’ll analyse air quality and UV radiation to tell you how healthy your current location is - and if it’s really bad it’ll tell you where you can go to for a more comfortable atmosphere. It’s actually really impressive tech - usually you need a huge and complicated weather station to work out your air pollution levels, but this is as small as a badge.
Thing is, you’ll have to be an unemployed outdoorsy type to really make the most of it.
Imaginary Marching Band
You know something is niche when it describes itself as “a series of open-source wearable instruments that allow people to create real music through pantomime.” The wearable versions of the instruments in question are played just like invisible versions of the real thing, so putting on a trumpet-glove will let you parp and toot to your heart’s content.
Join it all together and you’ll have the world’s most ridiculous-looking marching band.
Babies need wearables too! This one straps to your little ‘un and tracks their breathing rate, movement level and sleep position, letting you know if they’re okay via your smartphone.
It all sounds very worthy and reassuring, but we want to know what happens if it falls off and a dog eats it.
There seem to be wearables for just about every part of your body, and the Elvie is strictly for women only. Designed to encourage the wearer to do pelvic floor exercises - which can help prevent incontinence and improve sex - this gadget is inserted into the vagina where it links to a smartphone app packed with recommended exercises.
It’s also the only product on this list which literally occupies a niche.
Like-A-Hug’s jacket gives you a warm embrace whenever someone Likes something you post on Facebook. We can’t help but wonder what happens if you’re one of those people with thousands of friends who always feel the need to Like everything.
Presumably it crushes you the death with the warm embrace of human kindness.
Sweat detecting plaster
Despite having a rather unhealthy association with nasty stains on summer days or eating too much meat, sweat is actually pretty important and it can reveal a lot about a person’s health.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed an adhesive patch which can monitor certain chemicals in a person’s sweat and use them to predict the sudden onset of dehydration or cramp - which could be pretty damn important in the world of major league sports.
MIT Media Lab architect and designer Neri Oxman has created a bunch of proposed organic wearables for human beings when they finally move to other planets. Working in conjunction with 3D printing company Stratasys, Oxman has created Mushtari, an intestinal tunic designed for people living on Jupiter, and Al-Qamar, a lung-like wearable biodome gilet which purifies the air and stores oxygen.
It doesn’t get much more niche than make-believe biotech exoskeletal wearables for alien planets.