September 24, 1997


Cyberchic. The word itself conjures up images X-rated web sites. But that is not what it means. Cyberchic means to be in style with the world of the computers invading our lives.

Who is cyberchic? I have no idea. I do not converse well with techies, so they are not in my circle of friends. At least not that I have noticed. But perhaps they could be so far advanced that I would not even notice it if they were with me.

I also think that it is an age thing. I would think that cyberchic people would be no older than their early thirties. But then maybe people over that age really are not any kind of chic.

Finally, it is a location thing. Harvard Square, MIT - those are the places where the chic hang out to see and be seen. Of course I am only guessing, because I am so old that I cannot even recognize chic.

One part of cyberchic is clothing. The Boston Globe reported that Steve Mann, one of those MIT guys, is developing a line of cyberclothes, which are wearable computers. These are not just clothes which look good with computers. No, the computers are in the clothes. Steve can read his email on a computer screen in his sunglasses, when he is not sending pictures of everything he sees to his web site. He probably can do both things at once. MIT is good at multitasking.

He has other nifty gadgets throughout his attire. But the one that caught my eye and my imagination was the “ham radio station in his underwear.” This brings a new meaning to the phrase “pressed ham.” The thermostat in Steve’s apartment broke and so he replaced it with a radio receiver which would pick up signals from his body. When he gets cold, “sensors in his underwear turn up the heat.”

I am worried about Steve. It is rumored that he is moving to an apartment with central air conditioning. Therefore, his little gizmo will have to be wired for cold too, so that when he gets hot, the cool air will kick on. But what if Steve gets a date someday. I know that is not a real risk for a cyberchic techie from MIT, but what if? What if some cold December night he has a date, the evening progresses, and Steve gets hot? The central air will start to blast cold air on the big occasion! Goosebumps of anticipation will be replaced by hackles of hypothermia!

I am sure that Steve will come up with a solution. Maybe an override switch could be activated by an altimeter carefully placed to determine the altitude of a certain body part.

I just cannot wait until Steve adds a wind speed and direction detector to his underwear. Now that will be a valuable early warning system which will be sure to push cyberchic over the top.

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