With all of the news concerning wearable gadgets such as Google Glass earlier this year, and now the buzz surrounding the recently released Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch (what a cool name), I couldn’t help but think about all of the neat gadgets in some of the science fiction shows that have aired on television in the past few years. Science fiction has long provided a glimpse of what could be coming in the future. After all, one just has to take a look at tricorders, com badges, and the tablets that were found in Star Trek and its variants. That tech came to life.
Accessories used to just offer an addition to complement one’s style, but now these fashion extras do so much more. From communication to monitoring human physiological responses, the future is now. The cool thing about wearable tech is there’s nothing to lose. (Oh, where did I put that sonic screwdriver, again?) But then again, the tech can be stolen, and often plays an object-of-desire role in television shows.
Here are some recent examples of wearable gadgets that could end up at a local shop in some form in the near future. Or they may already be!
Continuum : Kiera’s suit and chip are the definition of wearable gadgets
First of all, if you haven’t seen this brilliant time travel drama based in Vancouver, Canada, now’s the time to check out the first season on Netflix. The season two finale blew me away.
Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is from a very different time in 2077 Vancouver. She is a City Protective Service (CPS) protector, who is sworn to defend Vancouverite citizens from harm that may be done by the corporate government identified terrorist group, Liber8. She has been outfitted with some impressive tech to complete her job, including biological computer implants that enhance her senses, that give her night vision, that allows her to detect changes in the physiology of others, and that records her memories. The chip in her head gives access to a virtual private network that consists of CPS officers in the future, but consists of just her and young Alec Sadler in 2012. (Yes, the poor dear ends up back in this time, and has to deal with our antiquated systems. Luckily, young Alec is a genius — and someone important.)
The skintight suit that the CPN officers wear is more than just for sex appeal. This suit has been associated with a number of abilities including cloaking, bullet deflection, EM pulses, and it has changed to reflect different choices in attire.
Keep your eyes peeled. You may be lucky to find such a suit at a garage sale, which occurred for one lucky (?) character.
Eureka: Logic diamond necklace
Over the course of five seasons, this quirky SyFy show about a town populated by experimental scientist residents explored a full round of science fiction concepts from new energy to full-blown human replicants. Every episode seemed to feature a plethora of cool gadgetry, including some quite plausible wearable examples. One of the most touching was Allison Blake’s logic diamond necklace. These man-made stones are supposed to have tremendous computer processor power. This device was to be given to her as a wedding gift, and it contained an encoded holographic message from her ex-husband (they were remarrying) and Global Dynamics head, Nathan Stark. Stark had been killed while performing a heroic act to save the town.
Revolution: The amulets
If there seems to be one common thing about science fiction, it’s to never underestimate the power of a common piece of jewelry. Early on in this series, there was a mystery concerning the true use of these amulets that were given to key members of a defense research project that ended up cutting off power to the entire world for some seemingly unknown reason. The wrong people discovered that the amulets could power devices and that this power could be amplified over a large area, enough to power helicopters. At the end of the second season, the amulets played a key role in getting the right players to a certain place where a catastrophic event unfolded.
Fringe: Ear cuffs and a timely Faraday cage suit
Part of the fun of watching Fringe was in seeing some of the crazy devices that made an appearance on the show. Although many were constructed by Dr. Walter Bishop, there were some that were the constructs of various mad scientists that made guest appearances, as well.
The alternate universe was full of fun gadgets, but the ear cuffs were one unique communication device. Although, they make look like blue tooth technology, they were fully voice activated, and totally hands free. (However, they still used pagers in this ‘verse. Go figure…)
I’m going out on a limb here concerning the Faraday cage that was constructed by Peter Weller’s (Robocop) character in the highly regarded episode, “White Tulip.” This device involved the actual insertion of parts into the body of the wearer. However, Fringe reused the concept (the writers loved callbacks) in the episode “And Those We Left Behind,” when Walter constructed a similarly functioning device for Peter to safely enter a home that was encased by a protective bubble. This bubble was constructed so that the occupants could live the same time loop over and over. (Before the onset of Alzheimer’s in one.)
There are plenty of folks who are working on phase-shifting devices, so who knows what kind of physics-altering tech will be available shortly in the future. The ability to wear such a device would definitely be more convenient than a big blue police box. However, you have to admit that a TARDIS is way sexier.
Star Trek: Geordi’s VISOR
For this entry, we’re going way back to Star Trek: TNG, but it’s worth noting because of the rise of Google Glass, which was specifically inspired by the computerized banana-comb-clip visor peepers of Lieutenant Geordi La Forge. Unlike Google Glass, Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement (VISOR) was meant as a replacement for missing vision in the blind man, not as a sensory addition. Maybe medical science will turn to such devices… or maybe functional ocular implants will be achieved before Star Trek lore made use of them.