Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

 

If you’re interested in Google Glass, the Internet giant’s ingenious, terrifying, baffling (tick as appropriate), head-worn computer display (see “Treading Carefully, Google Encourages Developers to Hack Glass”), you might like to read a feature article that appeared in the pages of MIT Technology Review nearly fifteen years ago, which puts the project in some historical context.

In the cover story “Cyborg Seeks Community”, Steve Mann—one of the pioneers of the field known as “wearable computing” along with Thad Starner who is heavily involved with the Glass project at Google—gives a then-futuristic account of what it’s like to use an always-internet-connected, head-mounted wearable computer. Some of it seems remarkably similar to what we’re hearing about glass. For example, Mann writes:

[People] wonder why I sometimes seem detached and lost, but at other times I exhibit vast knowledge of their specialty. A physicist once said he felt that I had the intelligence of a dozen experts in his discipline; a few minutes later, someone else said they thought I was mentally handicapped.

To really enjoy the piece, you can sign up and download the PDF of that issue here, which includes some great photos of Mann and his cohorts. Looking at these old images, and reading Mann’s account, I can’t help feeling that, for those brave pioneers, wearable computing was not only about finding new ways for technology to mediate your experience of the world; it was also about exploring a future that would be too weird for most people, not to mention wearing your nerdiness like a giant badge of honor. So it seems particularly ironic to see wearable computers on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.

Hear more from Google at EmTech 2014.

Register today

2 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Google, Google Glass, wearable computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »