Last week Google launched Project Glass, a prototype of its augmented-reality glasses that will allow you to always be online. "Glasses" is kind of a misnomer, because there's only a tiny display over one eye. This isn't the first attempt to turn us into cyborgs. Our history, and even our present, shows that inventors continue to think we're eager to don technology. Here are some notable — and comical — efforts over the years.
Professor Steve Mann was among the first cyborg pioneers when he made his wearable computer in 1980. Yes, he is wearing a TV antenna: it was the only way he could get a video signal from the top of a building to his head display. Mann's WearCom evolution has progressed throughout the years to something much smaller and less embarrassing, and not unlike Project Glass.
In 2002, Xybernaut Corp.'s lightweight head-mounted display and data input glove became a sensation among über-geeks. Xybernaut had some success selling gear to the military and corporations but never broke into the consumer business. (An SEC indictment of the founders and bankruptcy reorganization didn't help.)
In 2008, designer Erik De Nijs offered the world his "Beauty and the Geek" jeans, complete with speakers in the knees and a crotch-mounted keyboard. A back pocket holds the mouse. To quote fashion critic Anthony James, the jeans are "the perfect solution for Googling quick exits while running from the fashion police."
For those who need a "personal theater experience" between them and their iPhone, there's the TV Hat, which made its first appearance on late-night infomercials and at the 2011 Macworld conference. Yes, it really is a hat with black fabric around an iPhone.
Ever been wandering around in a downpour and thought, "Man, I'm thirsty"? To solve that problem, some students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design came up this year with the Raincatch — a raincoat that gathers water so the wearer can take a swig. The water is filtered through charcoal, and the excess is stored around the hips — not flattering to anyone's figure.