Gadgets for humans

Under no circumstances should you give this AR-enabled T-shirt to children

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Scientists have a problem: there are too few of them. This skills gap has led to governments and other organizations desperately looking for a solution to this issue. The latest entrant? Curiscope, a UK company aiming to shake things up with… a T-shirt.

Aimed at schoolchildren, the Virtuali-tee works in conjunction with an app. When you view the T-shirt with a smartphone, it shows the inner workings of the human anatomy in 3D, complete with facts and explanations. On top of this, there’s also an option to strap on a VR headset and take a 360-degree voyage through the body – much like that Futurama episode. Kinda.

While it’s a cool idea, I do have my doubts about the longevity of the Virtuali-tee, as it has the feel of a product that will gather dust after its first use.

“The spark of [repeat use] is a child taking the product into class,” said Ed Barton, CEO, Curiscope, “it’s the ultimate show-and-tell product.”

He went on to say that rather than being a gimmick, the AR and VR aspects of the VirtMauali-tee “[deliver] an experience that would be impossible to generate otherwise.”

When asked whether playing with an app will have any impact on people taking up STEM courses, Ed believes the “core to learning anything is context,” hoping with products like this “children will have an interest [in Science] sparked that they take through to adulthood.”

It’s certainly a noble desire. Considering Europe’s aging population, maybe teaching kids about health and anatomy as early as possible means they’ll be prepared to look after us when we hit retirement.

Yet, can we really trust the youth with their strange music and baffling trends? I vote no. If we equip them with an in-depth knowledge of the human body at a young age, who’s to say what they’ll do with it? In fact, they might come to the realization that retirees aren’t worth keeping around and use the lessons learned from products like the Virtuali-tee for nefarious means. The skills gap will have to stay.

If you’d like to raise a generation of untrustworthy science enthusiasts, you can buy the Virtuali-tee here.

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Published May 7, 2018 — 11:33 UTC