Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

The New Body Art - Wearable Wireless Devices 127

Freddie writes: "This article discusses the status of wearable computers; the challenges faced by software and hardware manufacturers in developing effective and widely accepted wearable devices; and the commencement of a new paradigm for how wearable technology can create value for consumers and enterprises."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The New Body Art - Wearable Wireless Devices

Comments Filter:
  • Most people don't really live on the internet. In fact, many people think that cellphones are kind of silly.
    • Most people don't really live on the internet. In fact, many people think that cellphones are kind of silly.

      Tell that to the Japanese who have more electronic toys than any other humans on earth. Desktops are an oddity to them, but internet phones, notebooks and other appliances are all the rage.

      It's no wonder. They live in telephone booth sized apartments that have little room for anything so large as a desktop.
    • That may be true - but look how fast it's changed (and I'm not necessarily changing for the better).
      I've introduced any number of people to something like Mapquest, from my mom to my girlfriend, and now they use it all the time. Likewise with online yellow pages, and other online references of all sorts. I'm sure we all know people who HATED cel phones when they first came out, or who thought they were silly, people who now own one.

      I realize that I'm saying some simple things, like "change doesn't happen quickly," but really, your point itself is kind of a silly one. It seems to me that most people just need to see the benefit to a technology before they'll use it. There are plenty of geeks who will get it because it's cool, but the rest of the people will jump on the bandwagon when they can do things like:

      Seeing something interesting, and, when it's automatically recorded in their glasses, they can just email it to a friend.

      Check up on their kids at home while they're in traffic (webcam style, could be scary).

      look at mapquest while walking

      look up references in the middle of a conversation with someone, or check a quote, without having to jump on the computer or go to a library - in this sense, wearable computing could completely change conversation

      the list goes on...

      Sure, many of these things could be done from the computer at home, but people, americans especially, are all about saving time, and if they can accomplish one task while in the midst of another, they will embrace that ability rapidly, for better or worse.
    • Geek Wear! Or, how to look like an idiot in public, even more so than with spiked purple hair and a pierced nose.
  • will never succeed unless they are sold and marketed by the Gap

    the Gap:all your clothes are belong to us.

  • please Hemos, do us all a favour; s/consumers/person.

  • Tissue Heating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @05:53PM (#2781433) Homepage
    Could tissue heating via EMI/RFI be a problem with wearable electronics? Since there is only so much radiation the body can take before showing effects at the organ/body level, could wearing electronics (especially electronics with high power intake) possibly break that limit?
    • As opposed to sitting in front of a CRT, under flourencent lights and cell phones practically strapped to our nuts for atleast 8 hours a day?

      We're all fried, crispy.
    • by AnalogBoy ( 51094 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @06:16PM (#2781607) Journal
      Good point. Great point, actually. Seeing as what my company is doing to me now (I sit less than 30 ft away from two satellite transmitters [the trees surrounding said transmitters are all dead]. I sit directly in front of 3 21" monitors. Behind me are another 2. Would you like your sysadmin crispy or extra crispy? Personally, I think its all a ploy. Im sure my company will sell these, and "give them to employees" as a "gift", while its actually part of their great plan! If we grow two heads and another pair of hands, the company gets twice as much work (or would it be 4 times?) out of each of us.
      • Well, any form of radiation that we encounter has some effect on tissue heating. If we look at heat, which can be thought of as the energy level that molecules possess, and tissues which make up the body, any energy that is added to the body (especially EMI/RFI of various frequencies that have the ability to penetrate deeply) we can see where the problem might be. Any high power signal of any frequency can cook food, microwaves just do it efficently.
    • Re:Tissue Heating (Score:2, Informative)

      by ChrnosLite ( 446969 )
      As I recall, when the handheld form factor was indroduced to cellular telephones, the power output of the devices was reduced from 3 Watts to 600 mW. One of the main reasons this was done (among others) was to keep the user from having a 3 Watt Transciever next to their head for long periods of time. While 3 Watts is not a large amount of power for RF, I recall the reasoning being brought up... Since the output of most modern wireless devices is far less powerful than a handheld analog cellular telephone, the risks do not seem extrodinary.
  • so... I can get an earring that doubles as a radio? or maybe a tattoo that is actually an embedded LCD screen for the wireless connection I had installed with my nose-ring?

  • This just seems weird. I mean, I can see a practical purpuse for carrying a phone around, and maybe a palm-pilot or the like. But, I just don't like body ornamentation. I think it's silly.

    Different strokes for different folks, but it seems the type of person who is into gadgeds doesn't put the same value in mere appearance.
    • I agree. I'm distracted enough with out something talking in my ear or pictures flashing in my face from some heads-up display.

      I don't see the need in going any further than a palm pilot sized device with some type of broadband connection that I can pull out of my pocket when I *need* it.

  • It's on my wrist, and it tells me that it's now 1:57 PM. :)
  • We have people in my office that have difficulty dressing themselves in normal clothes... How's it going to look when they have to remember to recharge their shirt's battery?
  • Upgrades (Score:2, Funny)

    by DeadBugs ( 546475 )
    Where do I need to go to upgrade the firmware in my underpants?
  • by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @05:56PM (#2781450)
    "New paradigm!"

    Everybody take a drink!

    "Create value for consumers!"

    Everybody take a drink!

    "Pervasive computing!"

    Everybody take a drink!

    "Proactive interactions!"

    Everybody take a drink!

    • Yeah, seriously. That whole "Overview" section was just so frustratingly moronic. You have to be pretty low on the imagination scale not to be able to realize the uses for "pervasive computing." I don't understand why every article on wearables has to spell it out for us again.
  • by malibucreek ( 253318 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @05:56PM (#2781457) Homepage
    "Is that a hard drive in your pocket, or are you just happy...."

    "Oh, it IS a hard drive in your pocket."

  • ... don't use the word "paradigme" among non-marketing people. Paradigme = bullshit. Everyone knows. Doubt me?

    "Cooldrink, a new paradigme in refreshment!"

    Don't tell me you can't spot that that is bullshit. Of course the word paradigme has valid uses wherein it is in fact not bullshit, but I think lots of people will have the "bullshit" trigger go off regardless.
  • by quistas ( 137309 ) <> on Thursday January 03, 2002 @05:57PM (#2781460)
    One of the barriers we're going to see to using truly wearable computers is that you accumulate a huge amount of grime. Now, it's no big deal for us, because we shower/toss clothes in the laundry, but for electronic devices of any sort, that kind of constant close exposure to lint, skin flakes, dirt, and grime has the potential to seriously degrade fragile devices. It's one thing to have these things work when you tie one on in your lab, and an another thing entirely to have a real device survive the day-to-day buildup of abuse and layers of crap that'll accumulate on it.

    I think when you can toss your wearable into the laundry along with your collection of failed T-shirts is when these things will really be ready for long-term use.

    -- q

    • though I would likely be a little more cautious about overclocking my pants.
    • Last time I checked my wrist watch did pretty well vs. the elements. It is nothing more than a circut board, a small lcd screen, and a couple of buttons surronded by a casing. Sounds close to what a laptop would be. I think what your trying to say is with current protective coverings for the kind of computer you would want to wear it will not withstand a game of rugby. Give it time, if they can water cool a processor in your AMD, in a carboard box with riceboy lights glowing around it I think they might get to the point where they can build a wearable computer that can withstand as much as a g-shock.

      • That's true, but watches don't have ports, and most only have one control - the time adjustment. If you've got a wearable that's got one of the small multi-chord keyboards (or whatever), that's a long ways more complicated and subject to getting messed up... and if you use a touch-screen, you've got a whole new related set of problems.

        And if you've got ports of any kind of complexity (that is, beyond a headphone jack -- something with pins, or catches), that's where I think you'll really get into trouble... and this is where wireless protocols can really help, as well.
        -- q
    • I don't know about that... I have a discman that has been around the world (literally!) and apart from some minor cosmetic damage is going strong...
    • Have you ever used a calculator watch? They seem to hold up just fine. I don't really think it should be a challenge to make other stuff just as durable. It will take a few generations of the product to make it nice AND durable, but it shouldn't be hard for them to adapt from watches to other devices.
  • What? You don't wear your tower hooked up to a car battery on your back all day?

    On another note, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they came out with some sort of HUD (Heads Up Display) for glasses. Perhaps with useful info such as the current time, and maybe a targeting reticle for those super spies among us. =p

    -Sanity is not statistical
  • I think we're going to see wearables as clunky nuisances in 10 to 15 years. I already do. I've got a pager, a cell, a palm, a notebook, and I'd have more if I could.
    What I -need- is something I can IMPLANT! I hope somebody's working on this, I'm sick of carrying all this crap.
    • I think we're going to see wearables as clunky nuisances in 10 to 15 years.

      How big would a computer comparable to a new Cassiopeia have been ten or fifteen years ago? That far into the future, this stuff had better fit onto a postage stamp and be embedded into your clothes. By the way, the article says all of this. Try reading it.
  • Input Output (Score:2, Informative)

    Below is a snippit of the artical, and I have personally used a device such as this. I have 2 small problems.

    People are not likely to change on the spur of the moment, you need more than "new hardware" to create a change. Look at mice, and keyboard games. Quake/doom/duke/etc... People still use the mouse and keyboard because it is universal and it is what they know. Your going to have to flood the market to get a new standard out, and it will have to be eaiser to use, and more productive than the original. Otherwise it just will not float. Your need both to pull it off, not just "wow" factor.

    For example, Sony Computer Science Laboratories has been performing cutting-edge research on input technologies, and two of their ideas, called GestureWrist and GesturePad, could be something we are all using by the end of this decade. With the goal being to make inputs to your wearable device as conceptually unnoticeable as possible, GestureWrist is a wristwatch-type input device that recognizes human gestures by measuring changes in wrist shape and forearm movements. Networked to a visual display, GestureWrist could serve as the user's virtual mouse.
    • For example, Sony Computer Science Laboratories has been performing cutting-edge research on input technologies, and two of their ideas, called GestureWrist and GesturePad,

      I bet the porn industry is behind these!
      • ****BREAKING NEWS*****

        Sony Computer Science Labortories was just hacked! The hacker(s) had apperently targeted the input devices research team recently discussed on Slashdot. Plans for the GestureWrist and GesturePad was defaced.

        The new plan renames the projects the ObseneGestureWrist and ObseneGesture Pad, respectively. The hackers were also thoughtful enough to include several new features including,
        -NY cab driver mode - automaticaly gestures oncomming traffic
        -Memory Stick Compatability - Everything else in the Sony line has it, why not this too.
        -and many more yet to be determined

        The hacker(s) also left indications that he would return to provide LewdGesturePad at a later date. Sony's stock (SNE) was up 1.5 points on the news.

  • But when I go outdoors it's to get away from the computer. I'll never buy one. The most I have is an MD player.

    While there are uses for one, I just don't see why a laptop isn't fine for almost all others.
  • Considering that most non-geek/tech people barely see the need for palm pilots, does anybody really see wearable computing becoming anything more than a niche curiosity item in the forseeable future?

    Also, will there be some sort of backlash against technology once it is integrated literally into the fabric of our lives? (pardon the pun)
    • I think one of the reasons geek toys don't appeal to the regular ol' consumer is because they'd have to carry this "thing" around, something probably does no more than act as a calendar or a phone book to most of them - easily replaced with pen and paper. Maybe making them wearable will make them less of a hassle, though.
    • Considering that most non-geek/tech people barely see the need for palm pilots
      Yet how many see the need to scribble things down on post-it notes? How many carry around shopping lists?

      The Palm Pilot has more functionality than Post-It Notes and filofaxes combined. But it does require a shift in the way we work, and a complicated shift at that.

      Make the Palm Pilot as easy to use as paper and pen (or even easier!) and the problem goes away.

      Also, will there be some sort of backlash against technology once it is integrated literally into the fabric of our lives?
      No. There may be some whinings from the same people who claim that climbing down from the trees was a bad idea, but these changes will happen too gradually to generate much protest. The analogue mobile phone debued in the early 1980s [] - today 2/3 of adults in the UK have a mobile! [] There is a little backlash (concern over saftey/costs/overwork) but the majority see the wonderful simplication (my address book is my phone!) while keeping the existing methodology.

      Technology will creep along and get to a state where, if done correctly, could streamline our lives without having to change our working paradigms.
  • Wearable technology (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nikoftime ( 544802 )
    While waiting at a dentist's office about 3 weeks ago, I was reading a (semi-old) issue of popular mechanics which featured a small article/blurb about a fashion designer that had integrated titanium fibers into a shirt. Sure it retailed for something like $5,000, but it automatically snapped back into shape when you put it near heat due to the titanium. It looked really neat, too.

    Quite frankly, I think this is where the future of "wearable technology" lies. Not in big computers or paintable LCD screens for your skin, but in modification to things we currently like and use (shirts) that make them easier and more useful.

    I can imagine that if that shirt were marketed at a more reasonable price (with titanium that's hard, but it's beside the point) it would become very popular. Many people would rather have a shirt you never have to iron than a screen in their leg.

    To each his own, though.
  • Whatever it's all about hacking the planet with my powerglove and a monochrome HMD.

  • Reading the suggested situations in the article reminds me of a science-fiction short story I read. Some poor peon had his computer break and it started telling him to goof off, not work. Chilling story if you read it as everyone did what the machines told them to; and since they were wearable/implants, you couldn't get away from them at all. Reading the use cases they suggest in the article reminds me of that story far too much. (It also reminds me of the Office Assistant, but for different reasons. "Hi I noticed you're writing a letter. Would you like help?")

    Whatever happened to the idea of getting away from it all?

  • ... and 70% of the population will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the e-world than in the physical world.

    Don't worry, I already have my avatar ready, and ready to log on to the Metaverse, as soon as it is open for business.
  • **New Wearable Computer Availible
    **Free Fellatio Module With Purchase
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @06:05PM (#2781536) Homepage
    Just what I need! Technology integrated into my clothing so some 5th Avenue Marketing Bastard can target me for more ads "tailored to my lifestyle". Because we all know that consumers really want more advertising targeted to just them. At least that is what those e-mail marketing SPAMs I get tell me.

    What we are talking about is the ability for an advertiser to monitor every waking moment of your life. Big Brother is not Uncle Sam but Big Business. I can just imagine "smart clothing" being like browser cookies. Sure in the beginning it wasn't supposed to be used to track your surfing habits -- its for the user's benefit! But, gee, it works so well, why not use it for tracking consumers? I can just see the day when I walk by Starbucks and my pants will analyse the last time I urinated and determines what size of latte would be perfect for me.

    With a future like this, I think I might hit the gym and go nude the rest of my life...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Look out! Big Business is out to get you! Oooh, here it comes! Woah, behind you, it's coming back! OH MY GOD, IT'S IN YOUR PANTS! Get it out! Get it out!
    • I can just see the day when I walk by Starbucks and my pants will analyse the last time I urinated and determines what size of latte would be perfect for me.

      If Starbucks can tell you might be refreshed by a mocha latte as you walk by their store, and they offer one tailored specifically to you, do you HAVE to buy it?
      • If Starbucks can tell you might be refreshed by a mocha latte as you walk by their store, and they offer one tailored specifically to you, do you HAVE to buy it?

        Well...yes. I'm sure my pants will also analyze my caffeine stream and realize my blood content is too high. If Starbucks knows a latte will refresh me then I'm sure they also know it's because my addiction needs a hit.
      • Do I even want to hear about it in the first place? Why should I be forced to hear about it in the first place?
        • Do I even want to hear about it in the first place? Why should I be forced to hear about it in the first place?

          If you walk by a store, there is a chance that the store owner will attempt to sell you his wares, whether or not you're wearing underwear connected to the internet... hate to break it to ya...
      • This reminds me of the beverage dispenser that produced a liquid that was almost, but not entirely, unlike tea.

    • ...I can just see the day when I walk by Starbucks and my pants will analyse the last time I urinated and determines what size of latte would be perfect for me.

      Hopefully it's no worse than that. Imagine going to the grocery store and having your pants go wild near the adult diapers because they are sick of getting leaked on.

    • Pants? (Score:2, Funny)

      by taniwha ( 70410 )
      when he said body art I assumed we'd all be getting new piercings ....
    • track my surfing habits!! its brillant!
      a wet suit I wear at the beach, then when I get home I can download my surfing data and look at my surfing habits! man my surfing is going to improve now!
    • Agreed. But you meant MADISON Avenue Marketing . But ...why would you have to hit the gym prior to going nude for the rest of your life? Could it be that Madison Avenue has already gotten to you in telling you what you're body is supposed to look like prior to going 'round nekkid?

      IBM's vision of what wearable computers would be good for reminds me of the "Smart Refrigerator" idea that came and went -- supposedly it was going keep track of what was in it (by barcode) and automatically learn what stuff you eat (and drink) and then automatically order more.

      I can just see the BirdsEye people wondering what all those geeks are doing with all those...Pringles!

  • Related information (Score:2, Informative)

    by narfbot ( 515956 )
    There was a scientific american on pbs a while back where they actually described people as human cyborgs. I don't think they were really cyborgs, what they really were was just people wearing computers. They actually already exist, and have been around for some years. Alec Baldwin even tried it out.

    I couldn't find anything about it on the scientific american, but this another article on that website [], somewhat dated. I think the guy that wrote it also envisioned wearable wireless devices.

    Here is a wearable computer [] you can even buy, meant mainly for military, or scientific use, I'm sure you can get one. It runs a transmeta [] crusoe chip.

    The future is close, and it will be cool.
  • by cmckay ( 25124 )
    From the article: "You quickly finish and rush to his office, reading the e-mail while simultaneously calling his secretary to let the boss know you will be at his office in 10 minutes."

    Riiiiiiight. Walking and talking at the same time. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • by brassman ( 112558 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @06:12PM (#2781575) Homepage
    I don't want my Palm(tm) build into my clothes; I change my clothes MUCH more often than I change my hardware.

    But it would be nice to get something roughly Palm sized (and clip-on, not inserted, thankyoujustthesame) that would do what my current Palm and cell phone do. Wouldn't mind having it connect to a Jabra style earbud and maybe, just maybe, some sort of headsup display.

    FWIW, Hello Direct, the overpriced headset people, are now selling Bluetooth printer cards and Bluetooth headsets. Same price as 802.b hardware, apparently.

    • The article discusses the use of thin clients so you wouldn't have to store all of your data in every device. I'd imagine you'd activate it with your info and then all of your wearable devices would sync up with a database either in your house or, more likely, a server owned by whatever vendor you've chosen to go with. I'm sure Microsoft would love to have a line of .NET clothes (begin BSOD jokes now...)

  • The last thing I need is some l33t d00d DDoS'ing my gitchies and setting my ballsack on fire.
  • And that's all I really see the concept of wearable computers as. There's no practical purpose for actually wearing a computer. As a matter of fact, it seems downright obtrusive and unintuitive. Take email as an example. If I use "wearable" computing devices I might have some sort of freakish pair of sunglasses that'll display the email to me, block my vision, and will probably cause me to fall on my ass...

    Companies such as Xybernaut have produced wearable devices capitalizing on more traditional I/O vehicles. Xybernaut, who's core customer is Bell Canada, offers a hands-free wearable computer that includes a body-worn, voice-activated, high-power processor and a VGA color flat panel or head-mounted color display with microphone and eyepiece, through which the user sees a video display. The battery-powered central computer weighs less than 2 pounds, and clips onto a vest or belt. The 1.1-inch head-mount display has an optional miniature video camera or palm-size color touchscreen that straps onto the arm. (Bell Canada trial users claimed to have saved nearly an hour a day.)

    And this... dear god, this is just plain ridiculous. Can anyone actually see themselves wearing these? It's so impractical I can't believe it. "Palm-size color touchscreen"? Uh... isn't that what most PDAs have? I suppose having the touchscreen seperated from the viewing screen might be a good idea, if only the viewing screen weren't in your face and blocking your vision. Then again, if you made the video display a seperate unit you'd really just have a multi-piece PDA...
  • "Gartner predicts that by 2010, 40% of adults and 75% of teenagers will be utilizing wearable devices"

    For some reason, that just sounds dirty to me...

    Then they started talking about their "Research thrusts." Sheesh, you'd think a little subtlety would be in order...
  • Interesting Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyyx ( 447405 )
    After reading the article, I was amazed that IBM didn't provide any links to it's own wearable PC prototype []. The link shows a picture, has a brief blurb, and some Q&A with Russell Budd, the inventor.
  • Well, I've always thought that if I ever needed a prosthetic limb (mostly the forearm), that I wouldn't hesitate to cram it full of digital devices. Roll up your sleeve to expose a PDA screen, etc. I might even go for grasping apparatus for the hand if I could overcome the awkwardness of people staring at me. And no, I'm not thinking about the dildo that the villan from Kentucky Fried Movie had.

    Of course, the concept of embedding a PA/GPS device in a prosthetic limb gives a whole new meaning to the term 'palm-top'.

    ba-dum-bum ching... (sorry)
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @06:19PM (#2781633) Homepage
    I don't always WANT to be reached 24/7. I don't always want to have access to the world all the time. But here is the important thing. When I DO want it, I need the capability.

    I can safely say I have no use for a cell phone. I used to have one. For years I carried the thing around with me everywhere I went. It seemed to be impossible to live without it. Then I did an assessment.

    Turned out, the people most likely to call me on my phone, I never wanted to talk to. And the people I was calling from my cell phone, I could have just as easily called from a voice line. Call because I'm on my way and need directions? What is so difficult about getting proper directions before I left? Better doing that and having a vision in my mind exactly where I need to be going BEFORE I get in the car, rather than reacting last minute looking for streets in a residential area where I'm likely to hit someone due to lack of attention.

    It would be useful, but I'm not going to be doing any websurfing while I'm driving, and I damn well hope nobody else is either. Certainly would be nice to listen to some mp3's, but I don't need internet access for that. Would be nice to have a live webcam in my car. However, the world can live without THAT feature to my website until I'm able to afford it.

    Fact of the matter is, the world ISN'T connected all the time. The internet, for better or worse, is still a novelty for many people. Its making headway, but it still hasn't moved past the point where I need to be plugged in 24/7 or my life will suffer as a result.

  • I/O (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cei ( 107343 )
    It's been slow going in the I/O area. Ten years ago I thought chording keyboards would be the wave of the future. Sure, there's the Twiddler [] and a couple of other alternatives to the standard keyboard that are more suitable to wearable computing, but most are not ready for prime time.

    Likewise, I've seen a dozen companies come and go each with their own HUDs. All were available in limited quantities for OEM/prospective LARGE purchases, but the number of wearable displays available to consumers is pretty small.

    So it's not like people haven't been trying. It just hasn't taken off yet. Sony's new research into gesture recognition may be a move in the right direction, but it may be a while before there's a ready solution that anybody can buy.

  • by nowt ( 230214 )
    Get an iPAQ then go here. [].

  • Last year I did a project on wearable computers (okay, so it was in powerpoint! sue me!) and they are pretty damn interesting. Here is some linkie stuff... [] Actually, this is the one where I got most of my info. I suggest you visit the old site (link at bottom right). Instructions are there for building your own non-corporate wearable system. $2000-3000 is the approximate price range. If you're really interested, poke around.

    Well, that's the only link I feel like giving. Have fun. Oh, yeah, that design is called the Lizzy, but there are others.

    My second ever /. post ;)
  • Now I can see the BSODs everywhere!

  • It talks (the article) about "smart spaces" keeping track of the computers and systems you interact with.

    I'm not sure that I want to have something track me that closely. Lets face it. You get off work early, and say to yourself," Self, I think I'll stop for a beer on the way home." Now if for some reason, your spouce is keping tabs on you remotely, you're in trouble before the you take for first swig. Your wearable device just blew the whistle on you. And I don't even want to think about how this might track you while surfing p0rn or at the adult book store!

    I'm sorry, but when I leave work I want to leave work. Having it follow me around, always be "in touch" just isn't my idea of a good product.

  • I am a total gadgetfreak but I have never liked the idea of wearable electronics. I am not going to wear the same underwear every day cuz it's the one with the most memory I have...
    I just want something the size of a palmtop or een Nokia Communicator which can do everything I want. It will just have to be a portable computer, that's it. I want to do the same things on the bus then I now can do with my home PC and more. I wanna read my mail, play UT/Quake, etc but also make phonecalls and have a usefull PDA. Now that would be a cool device. If it would cling to my clothes that would be OK but I don't want it woven in them.

    Damn I wish I was born about 30 years or so later.
  • Gargoyle.

    Great, so now I can be jacked into the web while I'm driving, which means that NOW I can look up the license plate of the bitch driving the bimbo box who just cut me off. Yeah, just bounce my laser off of her rear view mirror, and I've got a retinal scan.

    I'll show her; a little hacking, and lets see how she likes her burbclave to be the target for a new Monsanto [] factory. Then it won't be just GM food anymore, we're talking GM Humans.

    Just a little homage to Neal Stephenson. I've probably read Snow crash just a few too many times.

    • I number of years ago I was working on a profect the cross referenced Liscence plates with cell numbers.. hehe, fortunatly, most state no longer allow the resale of there data.
      but it would have made me millions!
      guy cuts you off, lok up his liscence plate, call his cell while he's driving and tell him you know who he is, his address, the name of his kids, whatever.
  • Mutual trust? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bill ( 12141 )
    "Gaining confidence and mutual trust between the user and system will be challenging to say the least, and ultimately may prove to be the biggest barrier to wide-scale adoption of intelligent wearable devices."

    They hit close to the mark here about privacy concerns, but they still miss. It's really not about mutual trust between user and system. It's about the mistrust that users have with the powers that influence the 'system' (ie government). And unforunately, as Carnivore or Digital Angel, or any number of technological wonders have shown, misuse by big government is always a risk.

    The polls may proclaim that we have a greater trust in government than ever before - but behind the scenes there is the spectre of Big Brother that just won't go away. And the current administration's actions haven't done anything to alleviate that.

  • problems (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deanasc ( 201050 ) on Thursday January 03, 2002 @07:04PM (#2781974) Homepage Journal
    So you spend thousands more for a wired wardrobe. Then what happens when it gets dirty or goes out of style?

    Also what about when it rains or for people who fall out of boats or into fountains? Will they be electrocuted or at the very least ruin their electroclothes?

    I just met a guy at MIT who will get a Ph.D. in this soon. I didn't have the heart to heckle him in person so I'm glad I get the chance to do it here.

    • So you spend thousands more for a wired wardrobe. Then what happens when it gets dirty or goes out of style?

      Style? What sort of a geek are you?!


  • I typically keep the RF key to my car in my jeans change pocket. I can tell which button is the lock and which is the unlock through the fabric, so I don't have to take it out to use it. This is effectively wearable technology. This is also about as complex and feature-rich as wearable technology needs to get.
  • If the device has a proper interface, then it will not be perceived as a computer. Then it will be called a communicator, medical monitor,
    entertainer, or whatever its function is.
    I call the computer on my wrist a watch,
    even though it is more powerful than ENIAC.
  • Puting electronics in clothing makes the combination expensive and vulnerable to damage. I suggest a good compromise is in accesories such as rings, wistbands, waistbands, eye frames, shoes, etc.
  • Well, this is all fine and dandy, but who's paying? And above all, what company will be desigigning all this and putting it into one neat compact and cute little package?
    And internet connectivity? Will someone plese tell me what wireless or satellite I-net provider has managed to stay solvent long enough for truly "ubiquitous" connectivity to be a reality like they've depicted?

    Bah, Humbug!!!

    Give me Handspring's Treo or give me death!
  • ... to see the small blonde woman in the Ford Explorer drinking coffee, on her cell phone, yelling at her kids, swerving down the road?

    "I'm sorry officer, I was having my car do my nails, watching a video, talking to my broker, being reminded of a meeting, and trying to get little Billy to stay buckled in his seatbelt when I looked over and smashed into that other car"

    I mean, I like my computer(s) as much as the next person, but... I can think about getting coffee and gas in the morning without something reminding me. I know it's supposed to be 'freeing' to not have to think about the basic schtuff, but if you're so spaced that you don't remember coffee... just stay home.

    I own several computers, and work has supplied me with more, because, well, I'm a geek, but having a computer decide when to hit the snooze button, etc. sounds like it's taking away my freedom to choose whether to be late to work or not, which way to go to work, etc. I don't want my alarm clock to make my coffee, or fluff my pillows. I don't want my shirt to know that I have a meeting in an hour. I don't want my shoes to remind me that they're getting worn out and there's a sale just down the street. It's my decision, and if I wanted to be nagged all the time, I'd buy shareware and live with a family member.

    Just lending my two cents (I need them back, though.)

  • I find it rather interesting that Slashdot people seem to generally like technology, but stop at the point of having tech in their clothes. Yes, the concern for privacy is very real, but hey - wearable computing looks like it can be pretty fun.

    Advances in wearable computing mean better battery life even for the non-adventurous. Better processing power. Smaller computers that last longer. Tie that in with ubiquitous computing and we can really live in a wired world.

    Although a few people say they wouldn't want to be connected to the Internet all the time, I for one would love to (as long as I don't get DDOS'd!). I find search engines like Google incredibly useful when I'm tracking down information. I like keeping notes electronically because I can grep through them for the stuff I _know_ I wrote down somewhere. I'd love to have access to the Net everywhere.

    I'm a little forgetful, so I'd appreciate having a computer take care of things like reminding me about appointments. If it could also watch where I put things down, that would keep me from losing things all the time! (Big win, definitely.) A computer that could match names and faces would be a good thing, too. Phone numbers, notes, reminders, birthdays... so much data could help me when dealing with other people.

    I'd like to have it in class, too. I'm a teaching assistant for an introductory CS course and while checking papers I usually make a lot of notes on how the students are doing. I'd like those notes to pop up when I'm talking to students, so that we can talk about the things they're having problems with. As a student, I have to admit that wearable computing will be a little distracting - I might be surfing the Net looking at related information instead of listening to the teacher! - but I'm sure a reasonable compromise can be achieved.

    I really want to do research in wearable computing because I want computers to be so close and comfortable that we practically forget about them. I just don't know where to start. I'll be graduating pretty soon, so I'm looking at universities that do work in wearable computing - quite a few! - but it's hard to give the field a try, especially since the components are pretty expensive and practically impossible to get here in the Philippines. =) Maybe I can save up for one of those HUDs...

    People don't really have to be so negative about wearable computing. If you don't like it, don't wear it! ;) I don't really mind whatever loss of privacy might accompany it. I don't care if Starbucks knows I drink hot chocolate; hey, it would be nice if they could spell my name right all the time! I don't mind if companies know my preferences, but the smart thing for them to do is also note that I don't like spam - a company that deals fairly with me will earn my respect and possibly purchases. =) If losing a little privacy comes with having a computer (and not just a computer, but the Internet!) with me all the time, in a form more portable and convenient than the laptop I bring around constantly... hey, I'm all for wearable computing. =)

    <plug> So, is any wearable computing company or lab looking for new interns/students/whatever? =) </plug>

    • People have been talking for years about the possibility of augmenting human intelligence by implanting microchips and the like... That still isn't going to happen any time soon but I think wearables can serve this purpose.

      When I'm at my desktop, the accumulated software and data there greatly extends my abilities. It would be great to have something as powerful that I could wear all the time. As long as the UI is transparent enough, it would be like having a second brain.
      • Exactly! =) It doesn't even have to be as powerful as my desktop yet - my needs are simpler when I'm on the go; all I need is a connection to the Net and a good interface for processing small data. I can connect to more powerful computers if I need to do more work. =)

        I don't think we know enough about the brain yet to do microchip implants, but gadgets are perfectly fine with me. I want to try out funky input and output devices! <laugh>

  • by unred ( 453742 )
    I'm still waiting for my Fremen made Stillsuit clone. Come on, you STILL can't throw out the idea of using the human body as a battery :) Where are the breakthroughs being made in this field?

  • Gartner predicts that by 2010, 40% of adults and 75% of teenagers will be utilizing wearable devices, and 70% of the population will spend 10 times longer per day interacting with people in the e-world than in the physical world.

    This is a lesson I learned a long time ago about bogus projections. If someone says the future will be more convenient, they're lying. The lesson that I learned about this was from my mother. She said growing up in the fifties that there were are all of these "new!" and "improved!" lifestyle machines (like a dome ovent that cooked a turkey with the push of a button, Gasp!) that was going to make their newer, shinier, more modern lives better.

    There was a lot of speculation from reputable social scientists that said that with all of the modern conveniences that this new society would have, that the average work week would be reduced to something like 27 hours a week by the late seventies... leaving the new, jet propelled mankind to focus on the arts and family.

    Of course, we all know what dirction it really went in, where we wear pagers all the time and can't see our children, and we all probably pull a 55 hour week. Our convenient future comes in the form of a bank teller that you get charged extra to see.

    If the modern life has taught us anything it is that more output means more expectations.

    So if anyone has a lock on the future? Tell them to stick their projections, because they're probably quadruple wrong and most likely in the wrong direction.
  • As we all know, or as we all should know, cell phones and other devices that use high frequencys (such as 900mhz, which is the same frequency that a microwave produces to cook food) to communicate are in fact harmful to humans. Now with wearable devices, this poses more of a danger than occasionaly cooking some brain cells with a cell phone. If you have a watch that is wirelessly communicating with some local relay to always give you te exact time, then you have fairly constent link where the antenna is right next to your skin for possibly all day long for many many months. As well as any other devices that would be wearable
  • The article mentions some pretty grim visions of future. Devices able to change my alarm times
    automatically, devices to recalculate my path to work.

    I can see thast sometimes these are helpfull and good, but when I look to the exted, that I use mobile (like calling to a friend when in 50 meters away, and asking where did he go without even looking around) I can see that very many people could be "handicapped" when someone shutted some sevices down. (like people who had used such services from the beginning of their lives.)
  • IBM Research has some more info about this direction in pervasive devices. The article above links to the WatchPad [], aka Linux on a watch. There's also some info on the IBM Almaden Research Center's CS homepage [] and a link to an Infoworld article about IBM's Digital Jewelry [].

    Personally, i wonder if those Disk-on-Key(chain) devices count as jewelry... Either way i'm more than happy to see computing power leave the desktop/laptop-bag and migrate into more people-compatible interfaces.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein