Can Wearable Computers Revolutionize How We Learn To Code?

We’re kicking off a series about garments, bags and accessories that run code. Is this the “big bang” for the Internet of things, or a nerd-fashion fad?

Programming is an abstract and often private pursuit. But wearable computing projects–made with purpose-built microcontrollers like the Adafruit FLORA–have the potential to change all that, catapulting coding into a vastly more mainstream hobby. But before we’re all wearing “smart” jackets and carrying “context aware” bags, a new generation of coders has to emerge and take the reins on a new and foreign paradigm.

This is a series about those people and the hardware they’re hacking on. It will touch the worlds of fashion, programming, retail, homebrew computing, meetups, and big commercial players like Apple and Samsung. Most of all, it seeks to find out what it means to wear smart things, where the movement came from, and where it’s going.


From The Ashes Of The Homebrew Movement

Like the homebrew computer clubs that led to the founding of Apple, communities tend to pop up around popular hardware projects, and since it’s hardware, they tend to be in-person meetups–the kind where show and tell is the most fun part. But since the late 1990s, as hardware has gotten cheaper and more integrated, hardware hacking largely fell off.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if the motivation to make your prom dress or your tuxedo shine is part of what helps you become literate in any programming language?” says Becky Stern, director of wearable technology at Adafruit Industries. She and her colleagues at Adafruit believe that donning your computing project as a garment is an even better way to get people interested in how computers work, because you’re literally wearing your project on your sleeve (and chances are, it’s probably full of flashing LEDs). It’s a more personal, more attention-worthy spin on the homebrew boxes of Wozniak vintage.


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