Wearable technology might be a buzzword for the future, but that’s not to say it’s a category that doesn’t have a past.
Wearables existed long before Google Glass or the Apple Watch and today, a five-day exhibition examining that history will open its doors, showcasing everything from the first noise-canceling headphones to an armband that allows the wearer to use the electrical activity in their muscles to wirelessly control their phone.
“Adorned: The Shape of Things to Come” is the first public exhibition for Muzse, the multiworkshop initiative founded by Milk Studios in collaboration with Intel Corp. earlier this year.
The exhibition is divided into four stations — vision, sound, data and kinesthetics — with each section organized around past, present and future innovations.
“These things now feel like technology, but in the future will be an everyday item,” said Mazdack Rassi, cofounder and creative director of Milk Studios, parent company of Legs Media, Milk Gallery, Made Fashion Week and milkmade.com.
He pointed to items such as Oculus Rift’s virtual reality headset or the Intel-powered SMS Audio BioSport in-ear headphones, which contain an optical sensor measuring the wearer’s heart rate while eliminating noise signals induced by body movement.
Rassi compared these technologies with watches — among the earliest form of wearable — noting that timepieces were once only worn by the uberwealthy.
Within “Vision,” an installation of 19 polarized sunglass frames is suspended in mid-air in front of a wall of five white-washed screens. Each screen contains neon-splashed animation that can only be viewed through the lenses of the eyewear. It’s intended to play with the idea of augmenting vision — and allowing guests to see something they couldn’t see before.
Also on display will be Intel’s MICA, or My Intelligent Communications Accessory, created in partnership with Opening Ceremony, that has an 18-karat-gold coating and curved sapphire glass touch screen; the iSwimBand with wearable sensors that tell parents when a child’s been under water too long, and Reebok’s Checklight Helmet, which alerts athletes to the severity of impacts.
“Adorned” will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday at 446 West 14th Street.