NEW YORK (AP) -- With technopop thumping and spotlights turning
her silver bikini iridescent pink, the model strutted down the
catwalk, turned toward clicking cameras and flashed a faint, but
It was the look of a woman who had just checked her e-mail.
The scene, staged at the Internet World trade show last week,
belongs to one company's vision of a day when technology will be
woven seamlessly into the latest must-have fashions, right into the
fabric of our everyday lives.
The company, Charmed Technology, is on one end of a budding
industry specializing in "wearable technology," gadgets designed to
be worn as readily as a necktie or a wristwatch to supply instant,
easy, anywhere access to computers and to each other.
"The brave new unwired world," a Charmed emcee calls it during
the company's show. "High tech meets high fashion. A coming world
where 6 billion people are online all the time."
That world may be a while in coming.
For one, technology hasn't yet advanced to the point where it's
ready to meet high fashion. For another, even those in the industry
acknowledge that most consumers are not ready to wear such gear.
Charmed's models do make for a hard-to-ignore spectacle, however,
even in an exhibition hall where scores of companies are clamoring
for attention. The catwalking also offers a provocative look at
where technology could be heading.
In Charmed's vision, someday we'll all be wearing devices like
the Eyesite, a low-profile monocle that will function as a computer
screen visible only to the wearer for discreet web-surfing wherever
Another runway model showed off the AlphaConductor, an eerily
green set of cables fixed onto one hand that will replace a computer
mouse and desktop by letting the user click away into midair.
Still other fashionistas showed off wrist-mounted computers,
including one done in faux leopard fur; shirts and sneakers that
will read an athletes' vital signs or adjust to the demands of
specific sports; and a sleek silver pendant that could receive voice
messages and store reminders of coming appointments.
Most Charmed products are just prototypes and some seemed a
Products like the PheroMate -- a wearable device that emits
pheromones to help people "mate by smell" -- drew snickers from the
Charmed is only just starting to sell some small items, like a
badge containing a tiny microprocessor that allows people at
meetings to trade personal data electronically rather than collect
"I don't think all the information we need can come from a cell
phone or from a computer. We need a whole variety of things," said
Alex Lightman, co-founder of Charmed, which was spawned at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab.
"One of the things that has been holding the computer industry
back...is that people don't have enough fashion, color, style and
Charmed isn't the only company thinking along these lines. …