This Week on DnA: Wearables, Drones and Tech for Tech’s Sake

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From wearables to drones, technology continues to redefine our everyday lives, for better — or weirder?

The Wacky World of Wearables

Apple has reportedly been granted a patent for a smartwatch. This news further stoked rumors that the company will unveil a new “iWatch” this fall. Meanwhile, Amazon UK just launched a wearable technology store a few weeks ago, selling fitness trackers, smart watches, and wearable cameras. So what exactly is the benefit of wearing gadgets that pretty much do what smartphones already do? And might we max out on the constant delivery of personal data?

DnA’s Caroline Chamberlain reports from REACH: The Wearable Future, a conference held in Santa Monica; she also talks to Levi Felix, aka FidgetWigglesworth, director of Camp Grounded, the camp for adults who want to shake their addiction to gadgets, and asks him, are Wearables a step too far? 

Reinventing Drones

On this DnA we talked about how builders and architects are using UAVs with cameras attached to scope out views. And that’s how the growing number of drones in civilian use in the US are mostly being used — to film stuff. But under the radar there is a growing number of drone hobbyists who see unmanned aerial vehicles as robotic devices that can be customized for other uses. In the offices of architecture firm Gensler, in downtown Los Angeles, designers Tam Tran (left of picture above) and Jared Shier are trying to turn a drone into a flying 3d printer.

Jared Shier, Tam Tran

And at Ctrl.Me Robotics in Venice, Simon Saito Nielsen, who operates and adapts drones for movie filming, is using 3d printers to make the one-off or low-run parts to customize drones for other uses, from scarifying people on Halloween with his “skeledrone,” top, to racing drones purely for speed, in this aerodynamic body, below.

But while these three inventors see unmanned aerial vehicles as a fascinating new technology and have no intention of using them to spy on people, many others do not feel so sanguine about drones. DnA hears from KCRW listeners who are concerned about both the safety and privacy aspects of drones, and talks to the station’s Digital Editor Caitlin Shamberg about our invitation to listeners to name KCRW’s own drone.

The evidence is in: our listeners are excellent pun-makers. Of the 600 or so suggestions we have received, among them were: Warren Drolney, Soarin’ Olney, Kadrone Cermak, Anne Lift, Morning Becomes Less Private, and KCR2D2.

Keep ’em coming!