Bracelet protects civil rights activists

"Fighting for human rights is a noble undertaking, but it’s also extremely dangerous in places where that fight isn't about simply arguing over abstractions. Aware of the very real possibility of campaigners being beaten, kidnapped or murdered, Civil Rights Defenders in Stockholm has launched the Natalia Project. Named after Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist who was abducted and murdered in Chechnya in 2009, it’s based on an electronic bracelet that sends a pre-programmed text alarm if activated or forcibly removed. The bracelet is a wireless assault alarm system intended to immediately draw attention to any assaults on human rights activists. The idea is that in the event of an assault, the wearer can send an alert or the alert is automatically sent if the bracelet is removed by force.

Civil Rights Defenders is bit hazy on the technology, which is understandable. However, it did reveal that it uses GPS and GSM technology and that the bracelet is programmed with "individual protocols for security." In addition to the bracelets, the Natalia Project also encourages people to sign up using Twitter or Facebook to receive weekly updates on the project as well as becoming part of a global alert network."

Continue reading on Gizmag

Preventing the Invasion of Privacy

There’s a lot of discussion around how wearable technology impacts our notion of privacy. From our body metrics to data about who we are, where we’ve been and who we know, software and services that use the data can quickly blur the lines. There are many aspects to privacy, but let’s take photos for instance. Facial recognition is increasingly used online and in real life by law enforcement, social networks, Internet search engines and even for retail marketing purpose. If everyone has a camera and can snap a picture at any time, how can we remain anonymous?

Tokyo’s National Institute scientists created the first Privacy Visor to address this growing concern. The silly-looking glasses could make you invisible to facial recognition technology. One of the scientists, Isao Echizen, said that “essential measures for preventing the invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images is now required.” By wearing this “privacy visor”, still in the prototype stage, people can control if they want to be recognized or not.

But what if you’re in a situation where you want your photo to be taken such as at a party or event? So what is the happy medium between remaining anonymous and spontaneously sharing our experiences?

How does it work? The glasses use near-infrared light sources to disrupt the facial-recognition software without affecting his or her visions. Lights create interferences across key areas needed to identify your face (like eyes or nose). Goggles are connected via a wire to a power battery supply in the pocket.

Would you wear it? Personally, I wouldn’t. Of course people want to control if, when, and how their image is used. But the design of the Privacy Visor is bulky, awkward, and just plane goofy looking. It’s almost as if it was designed for people to broadcast that they have something to hide since it’s not discreet in any way. What do you think? Would you buy and wear this type of product?

Related concepts This isn’t the only privacy-focused concept. Adam Harvey created an anti-surveillance clothing line that blocks cell tracking and drones. What are other concepts that help people remain anonymous?

More info and image via Slate.


Experimenting with visual perception

Wearable technology isn't just about health & fitness, which is all the rage right now. German artist lorenz potthast offers an experimental approach to vision that challenges our visual perception. His Decelerator Helmet creates an evocative experience that filters the environment and shows the user a slow motion perception of the world. "The technical reproducible senses are consigned to an apparatus which allows the user to perceive the world in slow motion. The stream of time as an apparently invariant constant is broken and subjected under the users control.

Processed by a small computer, the helmet uses a video-signal of a camera to slow down the stream seen via a head-mounted display and simultaneously shown at a monitor on the outside. The idea to decouple the personal perception from the natural timing enables the user to get aware about his own relationship to time. Working as a 'reflection-bubble, the helmet bridges relations between sensory perception, while disrupting the environment.

The technique of the decelerator extends the awareness of time and transforms the concept of present in a constructed, artificial state. On a different level, it dramatically visualizes how slowing down under all circumstances causes a loss of actuality and as idea is inconsistent with our surroundings." Continue reading on designboom.

Images from designboom.


Skinsucka: a design provocation

Studio XO is a fashion and technology company that creates and engineers interactive wearable experiences at the crossroads of physical-digital media. They have created some really provocative work for clients including Philips Lighting, Philips Design, Universal Music, The Wellcome Trust, ITV, EMI, Tord Brontje and Sir Clive Sinclair. One of their projects, Skinsucka, is a design provocation, which explores and questions our attitudes to consumerism, robotics and bio-technology in a timeframe of 10 to 20 years from now. "This film draws attention to hyper consumerism that blinds us to the exploitative forces that make it possible to produce a garment in Asia, ship it halfway around the world to a high street in Europe, for less than the cost of junk food'.

Skinsucka reveals a scenario where microbial powered autonomous micro-devices share our living spaces and eat household dirt. ... This design provocation suggests that robots will continue to perform the servile, worker roles that have previously been carried out in sweatshops, in an ever-increasing intimacy between humans and machines, as our technology evolves from electro-mechanical artifact to biological, living appliance. It challenges us to consider the ethical issues of where we source the products we consume, the processes that have been employed to produce them and the social and environmental impact of our consumption."

Continue reading at Studio XO.

Skinsucka was a collaboration between Clive van Heerden, Jack Mama and Studio XO's Fashion Director Nancy Tilbury together with Bart Hess- Director of Photography, Peter Gal - Product Design and Harm Rensink - Materiality Design and Development. The soundtrack was created by Scanner. The model is Pomme van Hoof.

Images from Studio XO.

Controlling light with hand gestures

Blogger Niquita has developed this fascinating prototype in response to some research that was done around hand gestures. The prototype includes two rings that you wear on your thumb and forefinger, which allows you to perform gestures to control lighting. With any type of product that uses physical gestures as input, the social implications should be considered. Large, obvious gestures performed in public could be quite awkward. I don't think we want to live in a world where people are swinging their arms around while waiting on a bus or walking down the street. What's nice about this concept is that the wearable device has the potential to be worn and performed discreetly. I imagine subtle (and somewhat private) gestures that you can do to actuate different events.

The rawness of this early prototype is quite beautiful. I just wish there was some sort of demonstration on how the gestures work along with what the experience of the light changing is. Perhaps that will be the next phase.

More info at Niquita's blog