Not too long ago I became immersed in the word of emerging technology, wearable devices, the forefront of technology. Through the viral posting of my project I was invited into the tech inner circle.
My background is in the arts and everything in the world is research material when you are an artist. My concept involved transforming my prosthesis into a supereye. Trying to cope with a near death auto accident I created a sci-fi version of myself to redefine victim identity to one of survivor superability.
A paramount model of redefining self is paraplegic Aimee Mullins and her miraculous six pairs of prosthetic legs. All of the attention, the potential of this new world was thrilling. Then I became depleted by the attention, lack of formal partnerships, isolating nature of it being all on my shoulders -- I became lost.
The project's engineer got his paycheck and the deliverable was pretty disappointing and no hardware I could use, just a diagram on how it wasn't possible. Yet I was still in demand, or should I say my persona of the "Bionic Woman," the Cyborg, was in demand. I continued to be invited to present a project that never really got off the ground. It had been a labor of love. I couldn't gain any real interest in funding outside of crowdsourcing -- which I felt I had exhausted since I didn't have anything to show for all that time, searching for the right engineer, raising money, researching and my unwavering belief the existing technology could fit in my tiny, tiny prosthetic eye. The Kickstarter money ran out and so did my enthusiasm. I submitted to DIY burnout.
The consequences of this rapidly growing technological industry of innovation ravaged my beautiful city by the San Francisco Bay. Mass evictions of the elderly, low income, minorities, teachers are shocking and disgusting. The Google Glasshole phenomena squashed any positive public opinion for the potential of computer or augmented vision for creative purposes -- a symbol of a scary Orwellian future. My Camera Eye Project seemed to capture the minds of monoculars, those with visual impairment, those who experienced loss and anyone interested in how we could change our predicament after being thought of as disadvantaged. I reached out repeatedly to Google Labs for help and received only a one sentence email from one of the Lead Engineers at Google that while my project was interesting, it didn't align with what they were working on at the time. My suspicions were that My Camera Eye wasn't a marketable venture for the binocular general public -- Google had no interest in something alternative benefitting a visually impaired population, that in its base sense the bottom line was a very low return in investment.
I became incredibly cynical and repelled from ideas of new technology. After periodically being broke, not having a job, struggling to be a viable artistic voice in the tech gulch of the Bay Area, I reveled in the tangible world finding refuge in my luddite friendships, art making, experimental cooking -- anything to invigorate my corporeal senses!
Last week after being invited to blog for HuffPost's ImpactX, I realize I couldn't pass this up -- I had to jump in. I needed and wanted to feel relevant again in a space that I had spent so much time and research in.
Thinking about innovation and technology still gives me an unsettling feeling. Would I have to champion these new devices? Would I need to market the ideology behind tech innovation when I've seen the evils and imagined the dystopia that it could bring?
So I left my house last Sunday, for the Golden Gate Park for a brainstorm mini walk-about. First stop: Haight St. I needed a fix of the eclectic echoes of the flower power. And what a day! Two lounging sun bathing nudies greeted me like Sphinxes -- this was a promising sign to my mini adventure.
Got to the drum circle at hippie hill, and that too was going extra strong, all the drummers went shirtless and there was even one awkward shirtless woman -- awkward because she wasn't dancing and wasn't drumming, but for sure was making a bold statement, or should I say two bold statements. I thought, yes, barenaked, the flesh is where we need to start from. We need to ask what the body wants, what the soul wants -- not just what technology wants. We need a " humanistic approach" to wearables.
I kept walking, past the the conservatory of flowers and upon roller skating disco party. I sat down on the hill and proceeded to witness a most diverse crowd of all ages, ethnicities and economic backgrounds jamming and gliding around on a small patch of concrete surrounded by enthusiasts sitting on the grass around them.
It struck me after enjoying the sun, watching the groovy skaters dancing in unison and others strutting out with their own flare that roller skates are an ideal model for best practices concerning wearable technology: exercise, health mind body awareness, socializing and dancing!
A pair of roller skates, an 18th Century wearable device, possesses what that new devices should strive to have in order to be sustainable. The betterment of humankind should be as simple as gliding around on wheels augmenting your feet. No head down obsessive gaze into a tiny screen. Out in the real world and smiling. Yes, back to basics.
To be continued.
Next time: 'A Minifesto for the Internet of Things'
This blog post is part of a series on the future of health and technology produced by the editors of HuffPost ImpactX in conjunction with the world premiere of the trailer for documentary 'Detected,' produced by Ironbound Films, in partnership with Cisco. The trailer debuted on March 16 at the SXSW Music and Film Festival in Austin, TX. For more information about 'Detected,' click here. To see all the other posts in the series, click here
Cisco sponsors The Huffington Post's Impact X section.