Noah Feehan of the New York Times Research & Development group explores the concept of social wearables: objects that explicitly leverage their visibility or invisibility to create social affordances.

“Wearables that engage with the world around me, and particularly with the people around me, are few and far between right now, but I think that as we move from low-level sensor fusion (gait analysis, GPS breadcrumbs) to more nuanced, semantically-rich signals (Curriculum, anticipatory systems), we’ll be able to author more synchronous and in-context experiences; we will have moved from recording to listening.

I’m particularly interested in social wearables because they will make rapid progress in the near term, as our listening capabilities (semantic analysis, real-time speech-to-text) improve. They also have the potential to introduce totally new types of information into a face-to-face interaction: we have an opportunity here to add bandwidth to ourselves, to make our own superpowers.”

Feehan then goes on with an initial categorization of the main functions he thinks we might see wearables focus on.

> See also “Blush, a social wearable” (post of January 2014)