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How far away is wearable social technology?

Every day I think more and more about the emergence of wearable social technology. To most people, this may conjure up such silly images as the Scrolling LED Belt Buckle. (Now imagine if you could hack it with an always-on Wi-Fi connection and access to your Twitter feed!)

But seriously, we're just now seeing practical applications of this in a very early form. Take Tweetup Badges, for instance. These ID cards have QR codes on the back which, when scanned by a mobile device with a QR reader application, launch a Web address or SMS message.

Okay, so let's say you're at a social event. You meet someone, you scan their badge, and suddenly their Twitter profile (and feed) launches in your mobile web browser. Rich Drake, Founder of Tweetup Badges, explains the benefit of this technology below:


Admittedly, we're still a long ways off from the concept of wearable social technology achieving maturity and mainstream acceptance. The above scenario assumes that:

  1. Everyone at the event participates in some form of social network like Twitter.
  2. These people all have QR badges or mobile devices able to read QR codes. Or both.  

Events like this do exist today, in the form of tweetups and tech conferences. The interface between a human with mobile device and a human with scannable badge exchanging some form of digital information isn't so different than the concept behind Poken, which has already launched in Japan and Europe.

Over time, this interface will become more seamless and invisible. Very soon, mobile devices will have face recognition software coupled with a ubiquitous social network (like Facebook). You'll be able to scan someone's face (simply by getting them in the viewfinder of your phone camera) and the device will fetch that person's public social network profile information. In essence, your face becomes the QR code.

Beyond that, the device itself will evolve past mobile phones, and may come embedded in a pair of eyeglasses, or even a contact lens.

Today, we interact with social networks in a very limited fashion - the computer or mobile screen. Imagine the possibilities when we become unshackled from those machines and our lens into layers upon layers of information is our own eyes.

Nathan T. Wright

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Comments

Nice post Nate.

Rich Drake and TweetUpBadges.com are certainly on the forefront of melding Twitter with IRL (in real life) TweetUps. The badges ease introductions and make social networking a lot more social. Rich FTW!

Thanks for the great post Nathan,
I am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to enhance the IRL part of the social networking experience. Currently the QR codes on the tweetup badges are the most cost effective and easily implemented solution I have come up with. It will be interesting to see what advances in technology will bring in the nextcouple of years.

Thanks for the kind words Brett.

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