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The new wearables

Depicting cell phones and digital cameras small enough to be worn like overgrown pendants have long been a marketing ploy by technology vendors even though consumers rarely carry them that way. Perhaps they have all striven to escape the "pocket prison" — that valuable real estate that can accommodate only one or two mobile devices. As exercise accessories, we've certainly seen many armbands that can accommodate bantam devices like the lightweight iPod Shuffle or iPod nano (or even their less bantam CD and portable tape playing forebears), but again it is pretty rare to see people wearing these devices outside of a gym or running track.

However, two new technology advances showcased this week show that we are indeed on the precipice of infiltrating technology into the everday. The Nike+Apple Sport Kit is an inexpensive accessory for athletic shoes that sell for as little as $85 while the Abacus 2006 watch appears to be the first one with Microsoft's SPOT technology that isn't conspicuously thick. MSN Direct has other obstacles, such as competing with increasingly savvy cell phones and building a subscription business, but both products represent fresh approaches to data-enabling formerly dumb devices.