Wearable tech and the first ever syndrome.
Wearable tech is a relatively new field of knowledge and because of that, it gives the opportunity to its practitioners to make things for the first time. New technologies appear almost on daily basis: new types of sensors, microcontrollers that are getting smaller and more powerful and new materials with special abilities are just some examples of advances that push the boundaries of wearables.
Having this scenario as background it is expected that there will be things done for the first time and that is great! However, it seems to be an obsession among designers and companies to announce that they did the first ever “whatever” under questionable conditions. Many times there is only a concept with good video production that mimics what the idea should be, but the piece itself does not exist in reality.
Fellows that work in media art are used to the expression “fake until you make it”. This is an expression that has more to do with realizing part of your idea to prove your point until you don’t have the means to realize it in totality. I have to confess that I sometimes “fake” some ideas to register and with this material I try to get funding to properly develop it. I do not really think that this is a big problem IF, and now there is a big if, you tell that this is a concept or an artistic impression.
What I see in wearable tech are companies and designers so obsessed to get press for being the first ones that they come up with a concept and sell it as if it is a completely finished product. Sometimes it is just a hint of an idea that is sold as the real thing. I believe that this type of behaviour jeopardises the real innovators that are working on making the boldest ideas real instead of worrying about being featured on design blogs.
On top of that, very often the what I call the “first ever syndrome” is only the outcome of bad research. The first ever piece became the first that was featured in the press and shared on Facebook and not really the one that came first.
There are new people coming and joining this exciting field and with them, new and fresh ideas. I strongly believe that is more interesting to be the best one instead of the first one. If you realize that there is another designer or artist that is doing or did something similar with what you want to do, just go ahead. Make it! It will be different because you are making it and the piece will have your vision. It is a nice practice to contact the other designer and maybe you both can even collaborate and learn from each other. My advice is: do not get blind on the run for disrupting wearables and focus on creating things that make sense not to be the first one but to be the best one. if both happen….. thumbs up!