MIT Chic

April 7th, 2014

Astronaut Chris Hadfield uses the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset at the TED2014 conference. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

The Finger Reader helps people with visual impairments read the printed page. Photo via Fluid Media Group.

This "smart onesie" by Rest Devices monitors an infant’s breathing, movements, and temperature. Photo courtesy of Rest Devices.

The LECHAL sneaker helps guide the wearer through a series of gentle vibrations. Screenshot/

This kit from ada fruit contains everything you need to start making your own wearable tech. Photo: Flickr

Wearable technology has come a long way since the days of bulky calculator watches. Last month, Facebook paid $2B for the virtual reality headset company Oculus VR, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling the acquisition a “long-term bet on the future of computing”—and with Oculus COO Laird Malamed ’89 revealing to the Slice of MIT blog that applications in development range from video games and cinema to the virtual preservation of vanishing landmarks. That’s a lot of promise resting on what looks like a boxy pair of goggles.

Of course, Malamed’s not the only member of the MIT community in the wearable tech market. Researchers, students, and alumni are creating cutting-edge garments and accessories, ranging from the futuristic to the practical to the downright stylish. Here’s a sampling of ways to dress in MIT from head to toe:

Finger Reader
This ring-like tool aims to help people with visual impairments read printed text. As the wearer moves a finger over words on a page, the Finger Reader reads back the text. Developers envision the Reader could aid in language translation. Although the device is in the prototype stage, the Fluid Interfaces Group at the MIT Media Lab hopes to move it into production in the near future.

Ministry of Supply
This MIT spinout is designing the next generation of men’s fashion. Borrowing from materials created for NASA spacesuits, the company offers a line of dress shirts that help regulate body temperature, fight odor, and limit the need for ironing and dry cleaning. In addition to dress shirts, the company offers T-shirts, dress pants, and socks.

LECHAL Footwear
A lack of navigation aids for the visually impaired inspired MIT graduate student Anirudh Sharma and his business partner Krispian Lawrence to create a line of footwear augmented with Bluetooth technology. LECHAL, which means, “take me along” in Hindi, guides the wearer through gentle vibrations. The product could also be a hit with runners, who can use it in a similar fashion to the many fitness-tracking wristbands on the market. LECHAL is available as an insole that can be inserted into any shoe, or in sneaker form.

Yes, there is even wearable tech for babies. Rest Devices wants parents to rest easier by dressing their offspring in this intelligent onesie. Built-in sensors allow parents to check an infant’s breathing, movements, and temperature without entering the nursery, and to track their child’s sleep patterns over time. In February, Rest Devices shipped out hundreds of pre-ordered Mimo kits. The products are also available through Babies ‘R’ Us.

DIY Wearables
Want to try your hand at creating your own wearable technology? Adafruit Industries supplies tutorials and even sells the parts you’ll need to get started.



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