Now Playing

Wearable Tech: The Good, the Bad, and the Selfie

Some of the wares at Wearable World were awesome. Some were completely insane. Oddly, almost none were wearable.

Tzoa's Enviro Tracker will tell you all sorts of things you probably never really wanted to know.


Tech enthusiasts gathered in the CLIFT Hotel’s Velvet Room last night for Wearable World’s most fashionable monthly event, Wearable Wednesdays. Headquartered in San Francisco, Wearable World styles itself a liason to bridge the gap between different IoT (that’s Internet of Things) communities, a place where local innovators can meet, show off their new tech, and build the world of tomorrow today. Sometimes this concept pays off. Other times, your mileage may vary.

Supposedly, last night’s meet was about building a more sustainable urban environment. Contrary to the advertising, however, most of the products seemed neither sustainability oriented nor, well, wearable. Still, it wasn’t a complete bust. Here we have the good, the bad, and the shamelessly self-indulgent from the wearables crowd.

We Like: Edyn Solar Garden Sensors
Edyn has two complementary products to encourage water conservation while maintaining green space.  The first is a solar-powered garden sensor that “plugs” into garden soil to measure nutrition, light and moisture. It knows thousands of plants and their distinct requirements, allowing the user to check via smartphone app how the plants are doing, what they need, or what they are getting too much of.

The second is a hose attachment that waters your plants for you, but only when the sensor detects that they need it. Solar-powered as well, the attachment is said to fit most irrigation systems and connects to the app via Wi-Fi. It can also be managed manually, just in case. The company’s founder claims users have cut back on water usage nearly 30 percent on average. Home Depot is now carrying the Edyn sensor (for $99.97).

We Don’t Like: Tzoa Enviro Tracker
Tzoa has gotten a lot of attention for their newest development, a “wearable enviro-tracker” that measures things like air quality, UV radiation, humidity and temperature. The idea is to help users improve health by avoiding risky environmental conditions. Although it was the only product of the night that was both environmentally focused and wearable, it’s hard to imagine anyone really using this thing.

So what if this badge says that the air quality is outside of an acceptable parameter? What are you going to do, turn around and not go to the bank today? The website says “TZOA will give you actionable recommendations, such as opening your windows.” Um, thanks? It could be handy for highlighting problem issues for city planning and public health officials. For the real consumer, though, not so much. 


We Hate Ourselves For Liking: Nimble Stacks' Selfie Key
This app allows users to unlock their front door by taking a selfie. No, really. According to Nimble Stacks representative Aaron Franco, the app uses a 3D image scan to make sure it’s really you. No need to worry about phony imposters breaking in to steal your secret files for Dr. Evil. But what’s the incentive to use this rather than just, you know, a key?

“Um…I guess there isn’t any,” admits Franco. Also, nobody really owns the necessary Smart Door technology this would require to work. So here’s an idea that is completely ridiculous and both incompatible with and outclassed by the existing door technology we've had for centuries. And yet, it’s so absurd we can’t help but love it. It’s the grown-up version of every spy toy we craved as a child and the closest thing to a James Bond-level security system most of us will ever get.


Have feedback? Email us at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag