Last night was the 2016 Met Gala. For those of you who don’t know, the Met Gala is a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City, serving also as a kick-off for the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. Somehow, this is a really big deal and essentially all the celebrities go.
Every year, there is a different theme. This year’s theme was “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” While just about everybody every year dresses like they’re Willy Wonka’s prom date, this year’s Most Notable Outfit award may have to go to Will.i.am. Not only was his outfit fittingly preposterous, but according to Wired, it was also brilliantly on theme.
Built into his tuxedo jacket was an AI-powered virtual assistant named AneedA. Embedded in the collar of the jacket, facilitating AneedA’s functionality, is Qualcomm gear enabling cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, a battery, a microphone and a speaker. The intelligence of the system is powered by Nuance’s speech recognition, proprietary machine learning technology built by Tel Aviv-based Sensiya (now owned by Will.i.am’s brand iam+), and the computational knowledge engine from Wolfram Alpha.
To say this might be the future of consumer fashion just might be an understatement…
Ok, not the dumb fucking visor and the dead shrub on his arms, but the fact that his clothes themselves were the thing that contained the “smart”. The smart part of his outfit wasn’t actually coddled in an accompanying mobile app or some house-arrest wristband, and the intelligence went way beyond tracking calories and monitoring energy efficiency, like other technology trying to tackle the smart clothing space.
No, he could use his jacket, simply by talking straight ahead, to order Thai food, or add a Black Eyed Peas Song to a playlist, or book a flight to Milan. Then while he was in Milan, he could probably use his jacket to find a jacket store where he could buy a less ridiculous jacket.
Say what you will of Will.i.am – about his music, his previous product flops, his manager to whom I sent flowers and a ‘Bless Your Soul’ card when he allegedly punched Perez Hilton in the face back in 2009 – but this guy is no dummy. When he got into something for this year’s Met Gala, he was onto something.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. Four years ago, as he always does, Jackie Chan beat him to the punch…
Ben is a Toronto-based writer and public speaker with more than a soft spot for 90s hip hop. He has spent over 10 years in business & tech, more than 20 in the arts, and an entire lifetime in a state of perpetual judgment (highly recommended). He is the author of the blogs This Is Your Brain on Dating and Love Gone Cray and can be found pontificating on Thought Catalog, Notable.ca, The Toronto Standard, Offline Magazine, Gasm.org and Huffington Post.
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