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illustration: Mario Wagner
Back to the Future (Part Three)
The Victorian Era witnessed the emergence of wonders such as electric cars, steam engines, and vacuum cleaners that the world madly embraced. Of course, the Victorians also saw the rise of widgets such as artificial leeches and moustache protectors that the world happily forgot. This month, EXHIBITOR concludes its series exploring technologies we think will become the defining wonders of our age. Join us for a look at the marvels that are mesmerizing the world — and impacting our industry — and decide for yourself whether they're embraceable enough to incorporate into your next exhibit. By Charles Pappas
Virtual Reality What is it?
Tracing its origins back to Ivan Sutherland's 1968 head-mounted display (HMD) that the computer scientist dubbed the Sword of Damocles (suspended from the ceiling, the heavy HMD hung over a user's head like the mythological blade), virtual reality (VR) refers to a computer-constructed reality usually experienced through an HMD, or less often, an entire room. In both cases, the user encounters computer-generated 3-D stereoscopic images whose perspective changes in synch with how the user shifts and moves. While Sutherland's primitive system only displayed a crude wire frame (read: low resolution and skeletal) depiction of rooms, it heralded an era of increasingly sophisticated synthetic environments created with a blend of software and hardware. Unlike its cousin augmented reality (AR), VR is fully immersive: Users feel their bodies are surrounded entirely by their constructed environment, much like a goldfish feels enveloped by its glass bowl.
How fast is it growing?
According to New Age TechSci Research Pvt. Ltd.'s "United States Augmented and Virtual Reality Market Forecast and Opportunities," the VR market is expected to boast an annual growth rate of nearly 30 percent through 2018. That optimistic finding shadows KZero Worldwide's forecast, which predicts VR-related hardware and software sales will reach $5.2 billion by 2018.
These buoyant projections can be attributed in part to radical improvements in VR technology, such as the easing of latency. Latency occurs when a VR unit's motion-sensing computers don't instantly alter their visuals to align with what users should see the moment they move in a simulated environment. That lag time was so disorienting that it consigned users to what is known as the "barfogenic zone." Fortunately, VR no longer induces the same kind of motion sickness that previously plagued users.
"Virtual reality has huge potential for showcasing large, expensive, or complex items, such as ships, helicopters, or heavy equipment that's difficult or costly to display at trade shows," says Joe English, an event designer and futurist based in Hillsboro, OR. "Blending virtual reality and real products themselves will allow event and exhibit managers to maximize the technology's promise."
How are marketers using it?
To promote its Dos Equis brand at the Grand Masquerade in New Orleans, Heineken International used virtual reality to prove, as the event's tagline put it, that "Everything gets more interesting when you put on a mask."
Working with its ad agency, Havas Worldwide New York Inc., and the marketing firm Mirrorball Group LLC, the company invited 2,500 guests to the event last November at Generations Hall for a mix of VR, online video, and real-life adventure.
Once they put on the HMD, however, they were transported far away to a Tudor-style mansion that looked like it had been designed by Anne Rice and F. Scott Fitzgerald. A virtual hostess appeared and opened the mansion's iron gates before fitting a domino-style mask over the guest's head, and then, true to the event's tagline about such facial coverings, things began to get interesting.
Resplendent in a red tuxedo, The Most Interesting Man in the World himself greeted guests, welcoming them to his abode. Visitors experienced a three-minute parade of knife throwers, fire breathers, painted models,partiers clad in medieval plague masks, and leopards on the prowl. Perhaps mindful of the need to merge VR with actual products per English's suggestion, Heineken wove the Dos Equis brand into the setting as subtly and naturally as a whisper in a library. And, because the company knew that when a VR episode concludes, the imaginary world you've been steeped in can, as Nathaniel Hawthorne put it, "Vanish, as by the waving of an enchanter's wand," it found a way to sidestep the withdrawal from a marvelous realm to a mundane
one. The company created a pleasurable physical ambiance at Generations Hall lush with greenery, where costumed entertainers sported bright masks and outfits, equaling the VR world for pleasurable weirdness — with the advantage of products you could imbibe.
Moreover, The Most Interesting Man himself, actor Jonathan Goldsmith, appeared at the event as if pixels had become physical. In addition, the VR experience primed attendees to engage with a more elaborate online version, where, in the same mansion setting, The Most Interesting Man implored guests to find a "masterpiece that took years to create": namely, his little black book. Players may or may not have found the little black book (volume 37, it turned out), but the pleasure of the online adventure (which could be played that night and for months afterward), and the quirkiness of the Generations Hall setting helped the spell cast by VR linger a little longer.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. turned to VR, too, to publicize its new weather-gone-wild movie, "Into the Storm," at the 2014 Comic-Con International: San Diego. Joining
up with marketing firm Ignition Factory, Warner Bros. decided VR could boost its PR for the movie. Not only was the company competing with a slew of blockbuster films such as "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Interstellar," but it was also tussling with at least four other competitors crafting VR experiences, including Legend Pictures LLC's "Pacific Rim" and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.'s "X-Men" series. Thus, what promised to make "Into the Storm" unique at first now threatened to make it commonplace. To swerve around that obstacle, the company found a way to add a little real mayhem to the virtual kind.
While security helped manage the zigzag-shaped line of thousands of people queuing the film studio's section of the Warner Bros. booth for what it called the Into the Storm 4D Experience, staffers shepherded people into an 8-by-6-foot, glass-walled booth. Inside, guests sat down and were handed Oculus Rift Development Kits (DKs), then the latest upgrade to the firm's HMD. Once they fitted them over their heads and received a briefing on the experience, visitors were swept into a roiling scene from the movie. Lightning bolts lasered the terrain, and the wind howled like a rabid wolf, while cars and parts of buildings flew toward the viewer like confetti in a parade.
But what amped the experience from absorbing to alarming was the addition of two elements that blew attendees away — almost literally. Two fans placed inside the glass room blasted guests so hard with wind that their hair, and objects like lanyards, flew up in the air and stayed there as if gravity had malfunctioned. Additionally, ButtKicker devices, made by The Guitammer Co., had been attached to each seat. The ButtKicker projects deep bass notes simulating the percussive power of, for example, machine-gun fire, explosions, and, in this case, the monstrous rumble of tornadoes, which can unleash amounts of energy exceeding the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. So intense was the jumble of visuals, wind, and sound that attendees often gripped the chairs' handles when they started to topple over from a storm that wasn't really there.
Once the 90-second experience ended, staff removed the HMDs and directed the shaken guests to a "social wall" outside the glassed enclosure. There, on a large touchscreen monitor, they could access still pictures and video of themselves taken by a video camera set up in the room, and post the images to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. By adding a little controlled chaos, Warner Bros.' VR experience proved to be such a blast of fresh air at Comic-Con that attendees stood in line for as much as seven hours just to experience it.
Where can you find out more?
To start grasping the impact VR will have on industries from advertising to aerospace, hunker down with books such as "Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution" by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, or "Virtual Reality Insider: Guidebook for the VR Industry" by Sky Nite.
Also, The New York Times' "Virtual Reality Fails Its Way to Success," The Verge's article, "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Virtual Reality," the BBC's "Virtual Reality: Lessons from the Past for Oculus Rift," and Wired magazine's "The Inside Story of Oculus Rift and How Virtual Reality Became Reality" are sobering reminders that, like most new technologies, the road to VR's success has been more shaky than steady.
Projection Mapping What is it?
Originally known as spatial augmented mapping, projection mapping uses video projectors, computers, and software to transform three-dimensional, often irregular, surfaces — such as, cars, wedding cakes, building facades, natural landscapes, even human faces and waterfalls — into temporary screens. Projection mapping's origins hark back decades before it entered the mainstream.
When Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride opened in 1969, the amusement had the disembodied head of a chanting medium named Madame Leota, along with a quintet of singing busts called the Grim Grinning Ghosts, on whose ovular surfaces films of actors' faces were projected. Popular as the disembodied harmonizing heads were with the public, though, projection mapping didn't gain true momentum until the emergence of 3-D modeling software in 1982, followed by the introduction of video projectors with a light output of 10,000 lumens in 2005. That combination of software and hardware made it possible to paint gigantic surfaces with elaborate and sometimes animated visuals that fit said surfaces like a skin of light and color. With its canvases ranging from granite to flesh to water, projection mapping can make them appear to pull apart like taffy and spin like dervishes.
How fast is it growing?
According to Transparency Market Research, the global 3-D mapping and modeling market (including projection mapping) was $2.9 billion in 2013. Between now and 2020, that market should expand at an annual rate of 6.4 percent, reaching $4.4 billion by 2020. Even that healthy prognosis is surpassed by the optimistic outlook from MarketsandMarkets. The Dallas-based company's research suggests that the 3-D mapping and modeling market is barreling along at a much faster annual growth rate of 47.9 percent, a pace that should extend through 2018, when the market reaches a value of $7.7 billion.
Companies across the corporate spectrum, from Ralph Lauren Corp. to The Coca-Cola Co., used projection mapping to celebrate corporate anniversaries or launch products, events that typically compound superabundant glitz with profuse production values that veer toward Hollywood action movies. "Projection mapping has the potential to transform a standard, 3-D exhibit structure into a creative landscape to educate and delight attendees," says Jillian Axtell, the director of marketing and communications for Live Marketing Inc. "When used best, it allows you to develop a clever metaphor about seeing everyday objects and services in a new way."
How are marketers using it?
To kick off its Disruptive by Design worldwide marketing campaign last year, Oakley Inc. worked with Montreal-based event-production company Moment Factory Ltd. to stage an event using projection mapping. The technology, the company felt, would allow it to display a lush medley of imagery and data about its groundbreaking products. But superimposing images alone isn't necessarily enough to delight an audience anymore. So, instead of guests passively witnessing a torrent of images, Oakley chose to combine projection mapping with an interactive element that would allow guests the pleasure of exploration and discovery that can feel to the mind like dark chocolate does to the tongue. When the Disruptive by Design event launched in February last year, nearly 600 attendees streamed into Studio Red, a darkened 17,000-square-foot former motion-picture studio.
A total of 10 Christie projectors flashed imagery on 27 screens of varying sizes stretching over a 270-degree-long swathe of the main event space. At different points the screen displayed colorful timelines of Oakley history, as well as athletes who disrupted their respective sports, such as bicyclist Greg LeMond and snowboarder Shaun White. The screens appeared at times like gargantuan Etch-a-Sketches with interlacing lines, massive sunglasses fit for a colossus, and stone buildings with tanks bursting out their front. Later, while shafts of light shot down from ceiling to floor like Greek columns materializing out of thin air, the screens transformed into a cross between a Pac-Man-like maze and Piet Mondrian's abstract painting "Broadway Boogie-Woogie." On the floor, a polygon-shaped screen, roughly 20-by-10 feet, was projection mapped so that it appeared to be a giant's prism, with shafts of bright light shooting through the atmosphere, representing the big bang moment of creation in the universe — and, by sheer association, Oakley's own creativity as well.
Oakley confirmed that very creativity by taking projection mapping to another, more dynamic level where guests became an active rather than a passive audience. When visitors wandered into an adjacent and partially hidden room called The Institute, they were handed an infrared flashlight. Directed by staff to explore the dark and mysterious space, guests received hints from staffers on where and how to aim their flashlights: When two people pointed their flashlights on a central prism on The Institute's floor, special content flooded the room with the visual explosiveness of New Year's Eve fireworks. While ethereal music played in the background, an archway turned into a replica of the Oakley headquarters facade, whose entrance resembled an art-deco steel bunker, with spokes that began rotating backwards. Lines rapidly flowed together to form schematics of high-tech Oakley products, punctuated by the appearance of messages in red letters that seemed to float out of the floor, such as "We own more than 1,000 design and utility patents." The sequence included additional sounds, such as crackling static and eerie whispers that made it seem as if a bodiless someone — or something — was whispering in the shadows. Soon the images on the wall and floor collapsed into themselves like a black hole devouring light. Piquing attendees' curiosity with a tool (the flashlight) guests would need to activate more projections, Oakley deftly removed the barrier between presenter and spectator, persuading an audience to take an active role in engaging with its brand.
Projection mapping doesn't have to occur on a scale as immense as Oakley's to succeed with an audience. Indeed, it can be just as powerful even when used in an intimate setting. That's what Adidas AG proved when it wanted to promote its new Blue AW13 collection it was adding to its line of Originals footwear last year in London. Working with Projection Artworks Ltd., the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company crafted an event that, for attendees, was nearly as compact and as customizable as the bespoke pair of shoes.
Focusing on a select group of local tastemakers it had identified, Adidas invited a bevy of these influentials to London's trendy Protein coffee bar. When the
guests (mostly Millennials) arrived, they found themselves in a warm and cozy environment. Staffers invited the guests to enter a small area roughly 100 square feet in size, where samples of the new line were placed on weathered shipping crates. But what drew the visitors' attention were 15 shapes placed against a wall, including rectangles, circles, and the fleur-de-lis-like Adidas logo, all surrounding a throne-like chair. The shapes, as well as the chair, were built of wood and painted an eggshell white.
About 10 feet in front of the shapes was a plinth unit topped by a 21-inch touchscreen, with a PC, high-resolution webcam, sound system, and Panasonic HD Wide projector built inside it. After attendees entered their email addresses into a contact form on the touchscreen, the screen changed and displayed a wire-frame design of the 15 various shapes. Poised over the forms and high-backed seat were a dozen digital swatches of material, inspired by the offbeat style of the Blue AW13 collection. Guests simply dragged the swatches to whichever shape they wished — perhaps the blue and pink herringbone design for a sphere. As the swatches slid into the digital shape, the same design instantly appeared in an animated loop projection mapped over its physical counterpart. The second a swatch fit into a given shape, music started playing, including drum beats and electronic beeps.
When the visitor hit the finish button, the screen flashed a message: "Sit on the throne and press the button to take your picture." Guests rushed over to the shapes and plunked down in the regal chair. They then pressed the comically oversized red button on their right, which triggered the already-moving images to detonate in a shower of sparking colors. Meanwhile, the high-resolution webcam snapped pics of guests surrounded by projection mapped shapes of their own design. Afterwards, staffers emailed the pics to them, along with promotional text and hashtags. While Adidas' event was different in scale from Oakley's, its use of interactivity — as well as emailed photographs that extended the event experience — would make any marketer want to follow in its footsteps.
Where can you find out more?
Nearly as overwhelming as projection mapping itself is Christie Digital Systems' free "The Book of Transformations" (you are required to fill out a contact form in order to access it). The 171-page publication shines a light on the technology's history and showcases dozens of projection-mapping projects.
An equally enlightening education is available through Absolute Vision Media Inc.'s Chicago Projection Mapping company. Its online video and text guide, 3-D Projection Mapping, breaks down the basics for novices and even includes handy tips on which surfaces work best.
Lumenous Co.'s Projection Mapping Central features dozens of articles and numerous examples of projection mapping. Besides the stunning videos, there are resources on projectors, software, and companies, plus worthwhile tutorials. Top off your edification with one of the most surreal displays of the power of projection mapping, via German artist Friedrich van Schoor's depiction of two spiders the size of Smart cars seemingly trapped behind a house's picture windows struggling to get out. It's enough to give Spiderman arachnophobia, but also enough to persuade viewers that projection mapping can spin a compelling yarn for their audience.
Wearables What is it?
Wearables are defined today as body-borne devices (wristbands, watches, armbands, heart-rate-monitor chest straps, garments, and rings) that incorporate computer technologies.
The current crop of devices, like those from Fitbit Inc., Garmin Ltd., Misfit Wearables Corp., and dozens of other companies measure physical functions such as calories burned,
hours slept, and steps taken. But by the end of this year, the next generation of wearables will be capable of quantifying everything we experience, from sleep cycles to stress levels to sexual arousal. Besides offering expanded functions, wearables will supply aesthetic qualities, giving them equal measures of beauty and utility.
How fast is it growing?
Once dismissed as glorified pedometers, wearables are growing at a pace rivaling smartphones and tablets. The market for wearables in 2014 topped $1 billion, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Research from His Inc., a provider of market and economic information, concluded that the wearable-devices market will command as much as $50 to $60 billion in revenue by 2018. Those billions spent will be the result of people attaching as many as 200 million of these gizmos to their bodies.
Exhibitors should note that wearables in their early stages will often overlap with geofencing, which comprises hardware and software that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), GPS, Wi-Fi, and other technologies to establish a virtual fence around a geographical area, such as a store or an exhibit. Indeed, like geofencing, wearables will incorporate familiar objects such as badges and wristbands until the industry warms to its possibilities. Essentially, wearables will eventually be more controlled by the attendee while geofencing would be managed more by the exhibitor.
"Wearable computing will work its way into the exhibit arena," says technology consultant Corbin Ball, CMP, and author of "The Ultimate Technology Guide for Meeting Professionals."
"Initially wearables will be used primarily to reduce the fumble factor of digging out our smartphones to get information and, also, to monitor our activity levels in precise detail. Soon, though, they'll be used for tracking continuing-education credits, making micro-payments, acquiring tickets, and assisting with other exhibit- and meeting-related activities."
Propelling this surge are three main factors: First, wearable devices are incorporating various standards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and others, that allow them to interface with other gadgets such as a Bluetooth-equipped smartphone. A second propellant is advances in materials science that now allow objects to bend where nature dictated bodies curve naturally. For example, a Finnish company called Canatu OY is unveiling a material it dubs carbon NanoBud, which gives electronic devices the flexibility of a Russian gymnast.
The third mover and shaker for wearables is power. Just as Captain Kirk was constantly calling on his engineer, Scotty, to provide the starship Enterprise with more power, users of wearables are continually demanding devices that can maintain a charge for more than a few hours without users having to look for an outlet to recharge. By one estimate, there are nearly 60 different Silicon Valley companies working on improving the energy-storing containers. Imprint Energy Inc., for example, last year charged ahead with a zinc-based rechargeable battery. Not much thicker than a stick-on decal, the streamlined, tractable battery will help transform wearables from dongle-like devices that appear to be one generation of clunkiness removed from pocket protectors to ones more Tiffany than technological.
How are marketers using it?
BASF SE is the largest chemical producer in the world, holding down the 72nd slot on Forbes' Global 2000 list of the world's largest public companies. And yet, the Ludwigshafen, Germany-based company's products are, in some ways, as invisible as air or thought. That's because a huge swathe of what it manufactures, like insulating foams and powerful adhesives, work unseen and unappreciated behind the scenes.
So when BASF wanted to show as many of its nearly 600 construction-related products as possible to attendees at the International Builders' Show (IBS), it faced a McMansion-sized problem: How do you engage visitors without making it seem like they had to trudge through a tour of a Home Depot? Joining up with Impact XM (formerly known as Impact Unlimited Inc.), the company decided a wearable, combined with Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, would allow BASF to engage and inform visitors without crushing them under a landslide of data.
When attendees entered the company's pavilion, hostesses greeted them, scanned their badges, and asked the guests to verify the contact info that subsequently appeared on a nearby PC screen. The staffer then swiped an NFC-enabled blue silicone wristband over an NFC device next to the PC, which in turn transferred the contact info data to the wristband. With the wristband now loaded with the guests' info, attendees slipped on the wearable — branded with a BASF logo and a Web address — and began their tour of the pavilion's two mock homes. Sales staff then guided groups of six to 10 guests through a 12-step tour of the homes at intervals of 10 minutes.
At each of the dozen planned stops, the guides explained and showed the various products and techniques used in home construction to achieve energy efficiency, sustainability, and other main benefits. But instead of having to perform Rainman-like feats of memorization, or needing to lug loads of product literature like cement bricks, guests only had to flick their wrist to learn more. Situated at five of the dozen stops were what the company called "product tap stations." Measuring 3-by-5 feet, the stations were actually graphics panels divided into up to six sections, which were colored in Skittles-like shades of red, purple, magenta, blue, green, and orange, and embedded with the chip readers.
Altogether, the five stations comprised 19 different product categories, including Foundations, Vapor Control, Advanced Framing, and Improved Thermal Performance. Thus, if guests, intrigued by the tour guides' mention of, say, Vapor Control, wanted more information on it, they only had to raise their wrist and nudge it against the "Tap Here" icon on the relevant colored section. The wristband sensor then flung the contact information to the chip readers that were integrated into the graphics panels, at which point an email with the requested information was sent to the attendee.
A total of 1,700 visitors toured the BASF show homes, a 20-percent increase over the previous year. In addition, those visitors made close to 6,700 requests for information through the wristband, roughly 25 percent more than the company anticipated.
Much to its delight, BASF learned wearables can ease the logistics of lugging literature, and, when resembling familiar
objects such as Fitbits endowed with a greater ability to access information, they appeal strongly to attendees. Even better, these lessons apply to virtually any exhibitor from just about any industry, which Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. discovered at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
The Nishi-ku, Japanā?"based company planned to reveal its new Titan pickup truck, as well as a state-of-the-art battery doubling the range of its electric-powered Leaf. But the 81-year-old Nissan also faced the prospect of nearly 50 vehicle introductions from direct competitors. By the time attendees had coursed through those exhibits, much less even a fraction of the booths on the show floor, they would likely feel run over by a convoy of swag, demos, literature, sales pitches, and more.
Anticipating that those rivals would offer one-size-fits-all experiences inspired Nissan to stand out from the pack with a tailored one of its own using wearables. Pairing with Stark RFID Inc., a Greenville, SC, company that makes customized RFID software, the carmaker designed a wearables experience that freed booth visitors to access information on Nissan's products where and when they wanted.
As soon as attendees entered the booth, they were greeted by one of 12 staffers who suggested they might like to acquire a pair of earbuds off any of three "totems" — thick plastic poles standing about 6 feet high — and embark on a personalized tour of the 18,000-square-foot exhibit. If guests assented, they were invited to reach into a waist-high opening on a totem and grab a pair of branded earbuds. Then, assisted by staffers or guided by the instructions printed on the totems, guests connected to a Nissan Wi-Fi network via their cellphones, and surfed to a company microsite to download a geofencing app. Once the app was set up, the visitors registered a six-digit code located on the back of an RFID tag affixed to the wearable earbuds' cord.
When they neared one of eight RFID-enabled zones, two RFID readers, placed out of sight under cars or beneath nearby decking, sensed the approaching attendees' cellphones breaking the line of the invisible fence. With that cue, the readers dispatched a message that appeared on guests' phones asking if visitors would like to "join the zone" — meaning, would they like to receive information on the cars located in that designated space, such as the Altima or Murano models. If they hit "Yes," they were whisked to a Web page for that specific model, where they viewed videos about the car, learned the colors available, and even tinkered with a customizable visual of the interior and exterior. In addition, there were games and activities to occupy the user. For example, one game tasked the attendee with swiping rapidly across the screen to reveal a Leaf.
In addition to the car-centric areas, two other zones let attendees put a virtual pedal to make-believe metal. At the exhibit's main stage and Innovation Wall (which sported touchscreen-based presentations on Nissan technologies), up to half a dozen guests at a time played the GTR Nismo racing game. When they crossed over the invisible fence surrounding those spaces, attendees received a message inviting them to take a lap with a Nismo racing car around a course that appeared on screens in the two areas. Using their cellphones as impromptu game controllers, they burned virtual rubber around the track. With a leaderboard displaying the names of attendees with the fastest times, many stayed on, racing over and over, releasing their inner Dale Earnhardt Jr., hoping to land a spot on the leader board.
As noted here, wearables will often be mixed with geofencing for the near future. The combination of the two provided Nissan with more metrics than you could fit in a U-Haul, among them how many people accessed info on each model, and where traffic congregated throughout the day. Important as the results were for determining which products might sell the best, and for planning how to arrange product areas at future shows, the wearables allowed attendees to joy ride through the booth, picking up information when and where they pleased, without the nuisance of cumbersome literature or the aggravation of intrusive staff. The end result was that guests stayed in Nissan's booth for up to two hours, proof that the company lived up to its slogan, "Innovation that excites."
Where can you find out more?
TechHive's "A Brief History of Wearable Computers" covers the Borg-like apparatuses of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the recent wearable projectors whose images you can manipulate with a flick of the finger. If TechHive's article seems modeled after the brevity of Cliff's Notes, then MIT Media Lab's A Brief History of Wearable Computing timeline will feel like an Ivy League education, starting with a top-notch timeline and related links on the history of the technology.
The Verge's article "Project Glass and the Epic History of Wearable Computers" includes "Terminator" movies, wearable translators in the Bosnian conflict, and roulette. WT Vox monitors wearable technology happenings the way a Fitbit monitors your daily steps, with coverage that includes everything from the very basic (smartwatches) to the outre (implantable wearables).
Significant trade shows and expos include the Wearable Technologies Conference (with versions taking place in the United States, Asia, and Europe), Wearable Technology Live! USA, and the Wearable Technology Conference & Expo.