Chips with everything? Smart socks & underwear may not be that smart


A smart bra that warns when you’re at risk of comfort eating. A toothbrush that can monitor how long (and well) you brush your teeth. Socks that monitor your running style. How much do you want the “internet of things” as Intel’s chief executive, Brian Krzanich describes it?

Intel, the company that wants chips with everything, is planning a whole new level of live-tech. The Economist recently blogged about the exciting future collection of objects de tech (to coin a term), including Lebanese start-up Butterfleye’s offering – an Instabeat waterproof heart monitor attached to swimming goggles.

It is, as Mr Krzanich told the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show on January 7, a complete “transformation” of the way we think and view computing devices. “For most of my career, computing has been something you hold in your hand, maybe have in your pocket or that sits on your desk. That idea is about to be transformed,”.

Transformation will, apparently, go much beyond smart watches. How about a bowl that can be used as a receptacle for devices that need to be charged? They will be – wirelessly. Or “smart” earbuds that can track the heartbeat of the person wearing them, while playing music? Intel thinks the product will appeal to runners.

As this report in The Daily Telegraph explains, everyone (with, if not a dog in the fight, at least a chip in the board) is hoping the wearable tech market is the next big thing. LG and Sony, for instance, will unveil smarter smartwatches. It’s an attempt to capture the imagination – just as much as a market that Deloitte predicts will be 10 million units or $3 billion in 2014. It will be mainly in smart glasses, fitness bands and smartwatches.

This is all very well. But what about nannying wearable technology such as underwear that stops that perilous bite of food even as you lift the fork to your mouth? Or the toothbrush that all but criticises the way you clean your teeth?

Smart devices, yes, but not smart enough to know when not to nag.