Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 03/25/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/25/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

>Steve Mann


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.

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