Steve Mann's digital ensemble may resemble a costume out of Flash Gordon, but what the 33-year-old MIT grad student calls his smart clothing—tiny processors, cameras and transmitters—is as essential as a pair of jeans. Since 1994 his computer couture has linked Mann to his Web page (http://-wearcam.org), exchanging ideas and e-mail and maintaining a photo diary from a tiny camera in his headgear.
Why wear a computer?
To stay connected, I can send and receive e-mail online while I'm actually standing on line at the bank. When I go to the grocery store, my wife can look through my eyes remotely and inspect fruits and vegetables, then e-mail me with her comments.
Is this just a stunt?
No. If everyone has this sort of connection, then we all become more productive. Friends and relatives can look out for one another, and there is the feeling of a town—a global village. When you operate a computer that you wear, it becomes an extension of you.
It seems like a lot to lug, though.
In the early 1980s, I first made a body-worn computer with a radio link. It weighed about 50 pounds. Now I use much smaller components. The total weight depends on how you dress for an occasion. But I'm definitely a fit person. My legs are in good shape.