News about wearables tends to center around what device is being sported most often on the wrist of people. From the Galaxy Gear to the Fibits and Apple watches, the conversation around wearables is in an infantile state and usually results in a limited scope of coverage.
At CES this year, some product manufacturers attempted to expand the category by combining the Internet of Things (IoT) and the practicality of wearables. Cloud connected pants, athletic shirts, and bandages were finally broadening the concept of what people should expect from a ‘wearable’.
During its 2015 developer conference, Microsoft discussed its vision for Windows 10 and the IoT and today, a patent was found that points to a future Microsoft wearable technology. Microsoft issued a patent application for the creation of clothes that react to a wearer's usage. Originally filed in February of last year, a report from SkyNews indicates that Microsoft is looking to smarten up clothing. Part of the patent goes into technology that can be used to measure and notify wearers on the longevity of clothing by alerting them to when their clothes are about to wear out. Perhaps most interesting was the notation about sending notifications to wearers through mild electrocution.
[pullquote align="right" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]a person’s attire could act as a notification conduit[/pullquote]
Specifically, “Techniques are described herein that are capable of providing electrical stimuli to the skin of a user to convey information to the user. For instance, the electrical stimuli may inform the user of an event, a condition, etc.” Microsoft further clarifies that, in contrast to vibrating wrist wears or missing vibrating notifications from tucked away phones, that a person’s attire could act as a notification conduit. Supposing the patent works out, people could receive stimuli from shirts, shoes, hats, etc. when receiving notifications, directions or personalized navigation based alerts such as shopping locations or favorited restaurants. Similar to several companies, Microsoft is looking past the use of current smartphone trends and into how users evolve with the technology.
For instance people often text, conduct telephone calls, check messages, search the Internet, etc. Using mobile devices in such a manner may raise any of a variety of concerns, namely safety and or etiquette. In an effort to address such concerns, companies are developing devices that are capable of delivering content to users in an unobtrusive and/or hands-free manner.
Whether or not the patent becomes a tangible product, it serves as an insight into Microsoft’s vision of how people will interact with information in the future.
Thanks for the tip David!