You can never leave the Hotel California - Off-Ramp for May 17, 2014

5 cool 'wearable' prototypes that might be the next Google Glass

Sangli Li

Patt Morrison, eat your heart heart out. This is Sangli Li's wearable. The fans protect the wearer by responding to light and noise.

John Rabe

Art Center College of Design student Sangli Li designed a hat that responds to light and noise.

Ji Won Jun

Ji Won Jun wears her Data Vaporizer

John Rabe

Art Center College of Design student Ji Won Jun, inventor of the Data Vaporizer.

John Rabe

Art Center College of Design grad student Marcus Guttenplan co-created a prototype for devices that might help and hinder data theft and pickpockets.

John Rabe

Art Center College of Design students Zoe Padgett and Gerardo Guerrero. Gerardo wears the prototype top, which inflates when the wearer is quiet, and deflates when he's speaking.

Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse and examples from their Pop-Up Sensor Nail Salon.

John Rabe

Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse and prototype examples from their Pop-Up Sensor Nail Salon.

John Rabe

Art Center College of Design professor Phil van Allen.


As wearable tech goes, Google Glass is old hat. What you expect from Off-Ramp is the Next Big Thing — perhaps a hat that protects you from paparazzi and boom boxes, or a nail appliqué that doubles as a flashlight — so I spent Thursday morning at Art Center College of Design, where teams of of Media Design MFA students unveiled their wearable prototypes.

Professor Philip van Allen gave the assignment:

"The point is to explore what the potential of wearables is. Not for tomorrow but say 5-10 years from now. Where can we go, where can we develop the technology, design, and interaction to make things that are truly interesting for people?"

One of the most fully developed prototypes was Sangli Li's quite fashionable hat, which uses sensors to protect the wearer from light and sound.

Watch Sangli Li's hat in action

Other projects include:

  • A "Data Vaporizer," which emits a gas that erases the data on a would-be hacker's mobile devices.
  • A puffy suit that mirrors the wearer's pensiveness or pomposity.
  • Tiny fingernail add-ons that take the current nail sculpture concept one step further by allowing micro electronics to be attached to the surface of the nail.

Professor van Allen says, "the kinds of projects that our students are working on are probably a few years out, but we're about to go to Intel to share with their people the projects that were done here," so you might see some of these concepts put into play. So watch this space."


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