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Wearable PCs 78

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-I-want dept.
Shawn writes "Interesting article on wearable PCs. Brief mention given to Linux / Beowulf, and 'an undershirt with 64 linked processors.' " God I'm a sucker for this stuff. "Hi, I'm Rob, and I wanna be a borg". This isn't anything really breaking or exciting, but its still neat.
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Wearable PCs

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Use your wearable's webcam to grab a picture of someone's face, run a face recognition on it, tap into his government's surveilance records, and ask him all sorts of personal questions about that affair he's been having with his secretary...
  • by KevCo (2333)
    Funny you should mention that... I use a 486sx25 to brush my cat.
  • Since I know he reads slashdot, I'd like to invite Mr. Martinez to post a followup here for stuff that may have been too geeky and technical for the intended audience of an ABCNews article. Anyone else want to hear what he has to say?

    --
  • "Thank you for calling the Help Desk. How may I help you?"

    "Well, when I try to reboot my underwear, it just gives me a wedgie."

    "What OS are you running on your underware, sir?"

    "Microsoft Windows for Cotton Blends"

    "Sorry sir. We can't help you. To fix this problem would require us to be able to unravel the source code and Microsoft doesn't allow that."

    "But I chose Microsoft because it seemed Microsoft-y and smooth against my skin! Without fabric softner!"

    "We're sorry. May we suggest the new distribution of Linux from Procter and Gamble?...."
  • He was in my class for undergraduate Electrical/Computer engineering. He was definitely odd. I'm not sure whether "fitting in" ever occurred to him.

    He was the guy who would wait until the professor finished a great long explanation of a topic, and then ask a question that showed total lack of insight into the material being covered. There would be a huge group cringe, and everyone would turn around and silently wonder how he could have missed the point so soundly. I wondered if he'd ever graduate.

    Now he's a prof and a pundit.

    He may be a freak, but he sure knows how to market what he's got.
  • Stay warm in your duck blind this winter. If you start to get a chill just perform some intense statistical analysis or process weather pattern data with the new Beowulf thermal underware from Cabellas. You will quickly learn to adjust processor load to find that "just right" temerature zone. You will enjoy worry-free outings knowing that _your_ underware is fully Y2k compliant, and has an average battery life of 4 full hours*. Act now and get an exteded 6 month warranty free**.

    *Estimated run time using optional 400 cell mobile battery cart.
    ** Waranty void if user fails to follow propper grounding procedures before dressing. Warning: Overclocking will void waranty and may result in burn injury.
  • Today Seattle authorities seized the underware of a young hacker accused of breaking into government networks. "We were able to prove the suspects guilt by placing a 'sniffer' program in his shorts last week". The police crime lab also reported that upon examining the shorts they found evidence that the young hacker had contracted the Melissa virus.
  • I have met Thad Starner, and he, as well as most of the wearable community, uses a Twiddler. The Twiddler is a one-handed chorded keyboarded, which is amazingly fast if one knows how to use it.
    --Ivan, weenie NT4 user, Jon Katz hater: bite me!
  • Hmmm... not the sort of thing I'd want to wear in the summer. It's hot enough, without having 64 CPUs warming you up. What's the heat dissipation of the thing. Do you need to wear heatsink backpack?

    Speaking of which, I hope it's waterproof. Hate to have a little sweat taking out the system.

    Reminds me of the wicked with of the west... splah her with water and she'll scream "help me! I'm shorting! Shorting! aaaaaaauuuuug!"
  • by rnturn (11092)

    This is all starting to remind me of an old science fiction story, Catman, in which the main character was part of a group of people that started replacing parts of their bodies with metal and assorted electronics. I guess the goal was to become totally machine. I wish I could remember the author but I think it was in the first Dangerous Visions collection. I've seen several movies that I'd bet were influenced by it.

  • ``Uh, so new and interesting prototypes shouldn't be discussed here, on the site for geeks who are interested in cutting edge, non mainstream technology?''

    \begin{sarcasm}

    That's right. He doesn't want to see it posted on Slashdot unless he can buy from the Sharper Image catalog. It was such a waste of his time that he had to take time to post a snide comment about its being put up on the site.

    \end{sarcasm}

  • Har, har!

    This will give a whole new meaning to 'electrical shorts', won't it.

    "Honey, would you iron and format my pants for me?"

    I suppose the shirt will be marked 'dry clean only' huh? 'Wash separately, with like OS flavors'. I HATE those! I bet it will only come in beige.

    But if a friend offers to give you the shirt off his back, it will actually be welcomed.

    Thank you, I do birthdays, weddings.. I'm here all week.
  • "Well, when I try to reboot my underwear, it just gives me a wedgie."

    "What OS are you running on your underware, sir?"

    "Microsoft Windows for Cotton Blends"

    "Well, sir, the only solution is to change your underwear to MS-NTLongJohns"

    "But it's the middle of August, and we're in the middle of a heat wave. Also, I don't think I need all of that fabric"

    "I realize that Sir. But the NTLongJohns are the only version of MS-underpants what don't give you a wedgie. And you're much less likely to suffer the terrible blue-ball of death with these than with the MS-Underoos95. The NTLongJohns also come with a convenient back-orifice flap for examining core-dumps."
  • I think the whole idea of a wearable computer is silly. If we put the funding into improving wireless telecommunications, we could all just run an X session from our servers at home.. no matter where we are.

  • Will the GAP do onsite calls if I find a bug in my shorts?

    Or a short in my trousers?

    How will this force moths to evolve?

    When I throw my clothes together in a pile will they Beowulf?

    Will the drycleaners stop going through my pockets looking for stray homeless 5spots and just try to hack into my zipper for my financial info?

    I find this fearful only because I still use the rock slab to do my wash.
  • The question remains: do we want to slip into our computers the way we slip into our clothing?
    Well, I know I do.
    However, this sort of thing is not practical with a keyboard. An alternative is necessary; I'd like to see something along the lines of a cyberglove that's used with a piano-like virtual keyboard; I believe the guy who invented the mouse made one of these (no urls handy, sorry) but it never took off.
  • I was in one of Thad Starner's classes earlier this year, and he talked about this a little. He takes notes into seperate files for each event (class, conference, meeting, etc...). He uses a piece of software called a remembrance agent, which shows a list of files relevant to whatever he's typing in emacs at the moment. Go here [gatech.edu] for a (unfortunately partially raw-latex) description of the remembrance agent and various ways Thad uses his wearable in daily life. This [gatech.edu]is the page of readings for his class, with various other interesting wearable papers.
  • I think you meant "when they are so transparent that people....."
  • by Stephen Williams (23750) on Tuesday August 24, 1999 @06:21AM (#1728386) Journal

    As soon as someone designs a computer than can be implanted into the skull, I'm going for it. If it requires cabling, circuitry etc. to be attached to the outside of my head, so much the better. I have a morbid fascination with becoming a mechanical freak.

  • The only question is how comfortable would it be to wear? I can handle having a battery attached to my belt, and *maybe* a pair of glasses that aren't too heavy that contain a small screen, but being loaded down with a full Borg armor suit can't be too appealing. It's a nice idea, but I'd rather just sit down and do my typing, as opposed to blindly stagger around on the street playing Quake and then getting hit by a bus 'cause I'm not paying any attention to where I'm walking.

    On other other hand, going to the grocery store would be a lot more fun -- just imagine how freaked out the old lady that gives out free samples of ice cream would be.
  • What else are you going to call it? A calculator? a word processor? a telephone? Those are all taken, and all of those serve on specific function. The thing about a computer is that it can do almost anything, and limiting it to "Something that drives me around" or "something that lets me talk to people" is bad. The examples with cars and stuff are backwards -- these are older devices that got computers added to them.
    Then again, maybe you can call it a "control panel" and have a couple of terminals hanging on your walls, kind of like in the halls of the Enterprize, and they would show the status of the laundry, what channel your teenager is watching a 1am in the morning, a record of your traffic violations... Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather walk up to something and push buttons on it than walk around IN something.
    As a side note, it would be neat if the energy generated by walking and breathing could be used to power the wearable.
  • Really.. don't. You may get a shock, or worse yet, if you get caught out in the rain. I can see it now...

    New York (August 24,199): Death of men at the altar in holy matramony killed from wearable PC's.

    Life's short. Play hard. Owowowow.. stitch in my side!

  • Will the GAP do onsite calls if I find a bug in my shorts?
    I think you are looking for the red light district.
  • Well this isn't too far off. Microvision [mvis.com] Is developing Virtual Retinal Displays [mvis.com] that use a low power laser to directly stimulate the retina. I imagine with some fine tuning you could get it to overlay the real world image. Until then you'll still have to use standard HUD technology.

    As far as an input device goes, you're missing the obvious. Impliment the keyboard and/or mouse in software. The whole point to wearables is to take ubiquitous computing with you. You shouldn't have to look like a "freak" to wear a computer. Imagine something similar to the "keyboard" in "Johnny Mnemonic" Use either a head mounted camera or maybe wrist mounted EKG sensors to detect the electrical impulses to the finger muscles. That way you just move your fingers. Even today, you can use a camera to track your finger (if you've got a flourescent thimble on). You can use that for a mouse; and I imagine with some beefed up software (and probably hardware too) you could get a computer to track and interpret the the patterns
    of a typing on a keyboard. (of course I'm designing this in a complete vaccuum, so I might as well say that a future wearable computer will have an integrated time travel device.)

  • Build it into a tuxedo!

  • spooky dude for sure man

    did you notice his cloths?
    this dude is weireded out to the max!

    and those shades, in Canada, why????

  • Blue-ball of death... *shudder* I suppose we'll see men on the ground holding their crotches when that happens. "Ctrl-Alt-Delete! Reset! Who put the (@#*%()^*#)% reset in the corner of the back where I can't get it?!@" ROTLMAO

    Moderators: moderate this thread *UP*!
  • It sounds neat, and I'd consider it, but people keep forgetting one little detail.

    Once the technology comes out, and you pay a doctor to drill a 10baseT port in your skull, Microsoft will release Brain 2.0.

    And then you have to go to the doctor for the upgrade, or all the new stuff will give you an incompatibility headache when you plug it in.

    Remember: cyber upgrades hurt.

  • I wish Neil :) It looks like the netwinders have been nixed because of funding ($250G is a little pricy) so instead I'm scrounging around for discarded 486s. Know any handy place where I can pick some up for free?

    P.S. No matter how much you wish it, you are NOT object oriented :)
  • Uh, so new and interesting prototypes shouldn't be discussed here, on the site for geeks who are interested in cutting edge, non mainstream technology? Wearcomps will not be a "retail product" for a while yet. There are numerous boundaries that need to be surmounted first. Part of that process is discussing the limitations of the technologies that we have now, and how to get around those limitations. It's what Steve Mann does with his cyborg group at U of T every Friday afternoon, and I don't see why people on Slashdot can't contribute their thoughts and feelings too.

    If you're not interested in indepth discussion of new ideas and technology, then go read CNN.
  • You don't have to refocus your eyes. The laser eyetap device projects the image right on to your retina, so it has an infinite depth of field and is always in focus, no matter where you're looking.

  • Posting anon I see. Nuff said.
  • You'd be absolutly amazed by how much info just sits in the history file. Got a URL to save? Dump it at the command prompt. Phone number to remember? Dump it at the command prompt. I'm not kidding here. :)
  • The obvious answer is to use voice recognition.

    A-and move to a big city, where you can stagger down the street talking to yourself and no one will think it's unusual.

    "Seedy slash home slash george"
    "man chat"
    "finger"

    George
  • by georgeha (43752) on Tuesday August 24, 1999 @06:00AM (#1728403) Homepage
    on the undershirt cluster? Do you use fdisk or Tide?

    George
  • It has occured to me that there is such a thing as "to much information".
    Too much information [unimi.it], perhaps. Too much knowledge, doubtful - information is not knowledge [musicweb.net].

    Our external storage - first cave paintings, then clay tablets, scrolls, books, recordings, and now computers - lets us store the information and put our brains to work on the knowledge.

    We don't have to remember the endless details (wish I could find a link to Feynman's "map of the cat" story!) and can spend more time on the knowledge rather than the easily recorded and retrieved information.

    In net discussions, I often pause to go seach for some little fact. I would love to be able to do this in real time conversations.

    (For instance, can you imagine political debates where the candidates could instantly call up, say, the federal budget figures, or their opponent's voting record, or any statistic they needed? And the folks watching at home could instantly check them on it?)

  • The reporter mentions a pair of eye glasses that one of the dudes from MIT has that look normal except for a glow from one lens but they don't show a picture of em.. perhaps if the reporter was wearing a web cam he could have took some decent pictures.
  • cool thanks.. those glasses look kick-arse.. how long will it be before we get 640x480x256 resolution on a prescription lens with encrypted wireless transmission built in. :)
  • cool.. check this url: http://computer.org/conferen/proceed/8192/81920048 abs.htm
  • What about a cyberglove that recognizes sign language?

    ... just a thought
  • by ODiV (51631)
    and I'm sick of looking for worthwhile comments on technology that I'm interested in and finding an abundance of complaints about slashdot. It's a free service that's incredibly easy to avoid completely or read selectively. A little respect never hurt anyone.
  • eh, Mike :)


    I'd hardly call a cluster of 64 netwinders "modest"!

    --

  • I think the new iterations are pretty inobtrusive... note that Steve Mann's kind of glasses don't actually contain a display - they just have a laser that draws directly on your retina :)
    --
  • check out the the twiddler [handykey.com]
  • from the article:
    The question remains: do we want to slip into our
    computers the way we slip into our clothing?

    for me that would mean slipping into my wearable computer at a dead run on the way to the subway.

    and then someone would have to tell me:
    hey man you misbuttoned your computer.
  • by grmoc (57943)
    Thad's wearable is unobtrusive from my point of view (I'm a student at Ga Tech), and pretty cool.

    There are some interesting rumors about what he got to do with it over at MIT.

  • But wearables are *cool*! There should be *more* stories on wearables, because dammit, that's how cool they are. Cool is good! Need more cool!

    ---
    I'm not sure if I'm being facetious or not, either...
    --
    "HORSE."

  • Hi I'm Stu, I want to be a borg too.
  • He calls his computer a third hemisphere of his brain, capable of storing more data and crunching more numbers than his organic brain ever could.
    It has occured to me that there is such a thing as "to much information". Though I get jazzed learning and aquiring new information, I think there is something to be said for ignorance. Maybe that means I'm not a geek/nerd after all. DS
  • Just be careful not to wear those boards over anything personal...pin-ends probably wouldn't feel too good on delightfully tender nipples.

    I'll just wait for the skull-jacks, my self.
  • Umm, you at least need the visual component of the wearable comp, and something to use as an input device.
    Heh, and you should probably have a 300 disc CD changer hooked up to your home box, otherwise you might be stuck on the subway with the wrong CD in at home.


    Kintanon
  • by Cuthalion (65550)
    Really current IO is pretty clunky for this kind of proposition. To have to refocus your eyes or have a free hand in order to interface with a computer greatly reduces the utility of always-present devices.

    Recently, speech recognition and synthesis have been approaching 'adequate' - HERE is a niche for these technologies.
  • "Well, when I try to reboot my underwear, it just gives me a wedgie."

    "What OS are you running on your underware, sir?"

    "Microsoft Windows for Cotton Blends"

    "Well, sir, the only solution is to change your underwear to MS-NTLongJohns"

    "But it's the middle of August, and we're in the middle of a heat wave. Also, I don't think I need all of that fabric"

    "I realize that Sir. But the NTLongJohns are the only version of MS-underpants what don't give you a wedgie. And you're much less likely to suffer the terrible blue-ball of death with these than with the MS-Underoos95. The NTLongJohns also come with a convenient back-orifice flap for examining core-dumps."

    "Wow, that does sound... oh ohhhh ohhh S*&T!!!"

    "Sir? Sir? Are you still there, Sir?"

    "Je-ZUS! My underware were still connected to the phone line... I think my wife just faxed my willie to Canada...."

    "Oh dear..."

    "What the fsck?? Now my underwear's crashed and my nuts have turned blue!"







  • http://www.cc.gatech.edu/fac/Thad.Starner/
  • Terry told me that Mann got $14M... $250G should be nothing... By the way, this is Lee...
  • I've noticed that too... One time, the CEO of Nortel was giving a speech and he asked a really stupid, non-sequitur question. I could see several profs shaking their heads...

    Genius takes on many, weird forms...

  • I have followed wearable computing for some time now. I look forward to when the MicroOpticals are available via retail.

    What I'm more interested in is how to folks like Starner & Mann actually organize their data. They must collect and manipulate an enormous amount of data. I also know most wearable folks are Emacs fans. What are folks doing to keep all this info accessible?
  • ...
    it would be neat if the energy generated by walking and breathing could be used to power the wearable.
    That seems easy enough, but you'd have to get used to having your clothing tight so that it could pull against your movements. Especially in warm places like SoCal, I could see this being unpopular. The alternative would be to have spandex-like clothes, which might be unsightly for many geeks.

    I have given some thought to powering a laptop from muscle motion, and I concluded that reflexively bouncing your knee up and down (with your toe on the floor) could be tapped to generate enough power to run a modest computer. This does, however, makes it difficult to put a laptop on top of your lap. As long as you're walking around it would be trivial to generate some tens or hundreds of milliwatts from the flexing of the soles of your shoes; I put over a kilonewton of force on my foot when I step down, and 5 mm of motion is 5 joules right there. I don't see similar possibilities from breathing.

  • I keep threatening to build one, but my wife either
    a) doesn't want to be seen in public with a synth-pop cyborg
    b) is wary of any project of mine that involves soldering irons
    or c) all of the above.

    Considering all the electronics I'd have to learn, this might be a good thing...
  • by bortbox (77540)
    I use a soket 4 pentium 60 to comb my hair... does that count for anything?

    bortbox

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