On Wednesdays we wear tech

Jim from Microsoft has outdone himself in the race to be our best friend by designing an entire livestream series around teen Millennial movie bible Mean Girls. If you’re interested in wearable tech, this will be right up your street. Here’s what Jim had to say about “On Wednesdays we wear tech”:

We all know that on Wednesdays we wear pink, but to make Wednesdays so fetch, we also need to wear tech.

Jim’s handiwork here

If you have no idea what I’m blathering on about, first go watch Mean Girls, then check out the Microsoft Reactor Redmond meetup group that is hosting four livestreams in April starring yours truly, and all about building wearables using Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W.

Wearables have been around for a long time by tech standards. The first one that really captured everyone’s attention was the Fitbit, released thirteen years ago, with the Apple Watch currently one of the dominant wearable devices. But these are all a bit dull, as they are small and just sit on your wrist. What’s lacking are wearables that are larger or worn on other parts of your body. So I thought I would create wearables that are not like a regular wearable, but a cool wearable.

“Fetch”: look it up

Every Wednesday in April I’ll be live streaming a different fun wearable built around Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W and using the power of the cloud.

We’ll start with a subtitle shirt that streams what you say ticker tape-style across your chest, translating as you speak if you want. Not sure if it can translate “grool” correctly though.

Next, we’ll track who is mean and who is kind with a light-up hoodie. It will listen to what you say, and if it is worthy of being in the Burn Book, your hoodie will light up pink to let the world know you’re being mean.

Wearable projects are so cool we did a whole book about them

Then we’ll build a GitHub status bracer – a forearm-mounted display that checks the status of your GitHub repos, controlled by your voice. Want to see if Node made fetch happen? You can do so with your voice and see the results on your wrist.

Finally, we’ll build a parrot for your shoulder that can read to you! Want to hear what’s written in the Burn Book but can’t bear to look yourself? Let a smart parrot on your shoulder do the work for you.

So get in loser, we’re going to make wearables. Sign up here.


W. H. Heydt avatar

*Commercial* wearable tech may go back to 2013 and the FitBit, but actual wearable tech goes back much further.
About 30 years ago, I set up a set of 10 wearable blinking lights for my wife to wear in her hair. White LEDs didn’t exist then, nor did computers in the Pi0 form factor. It was done with a quad 2 input dual inline (DIP) package and a decade counter/decoder all driving “grain of wheat” incandescent bulbs intended for model railroad work. It was powered by a pair of AAA batteries. It could be completely hidden in her hair. The lights looked random, but weren’t. Drove people nuts trying to figure out how I’d done it, because there was obviously no wire running down that back of her–bare–neck.

Liz Upton avatar

Ha – if asked which of our regular commenters had done this 30 years ago, I’d have got full points on this one!

W. H. Heydt avatar

My wife reminded me that it was before either of our kids was born…so over 45 years ago.
And for those curious…there is no write up. If you wire a pair of NAND gates so that they toggle each other, use a RC timing, it acts as a not very accurate clock (and accuracy isn’t important here). Feed the output of one gate to the decade counter/decoder and then wire a light (incandescent or LED) to each output and each one will flash in turn. Just don’t line them up neatly and the lights will appear to be random.

Jim Bennett avatar

That is really cool! Is there a write up somewhere? I’d love to compare the tech of 30 years ago to today, and maybe build a modern homage.

Liz Upton avatar

You should ask him about his hand-made chain mail – Hal makes some really lovely things.

Josh avatar

I would definitely look up ‘grool’ as it no longer means what you think it means.

Ashley Whittaker avatar

Why would you ruin my adolescence like this Josh? Why?

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