September 29, 2010

Looxcie Review: Wearable cameras are now a reality

I always wanted a wearable camera. Four years ago, I built one for Burning Man, and got some great video. I left it running for hours, just capturing everything, which was both fun and challenging. I had to wear a giant toolbelt with an Archos recorder in it, and a video camera on my head with a very precarious cord hanging down for the feed and battery.

Now in 2010, there's a camera that does most of what I originally wanted, and it's pretty damn comfortable considering.

It has neat features, like a button to capture the last thirty seconds. It looks sci-fi, and you use your Android phone to interact with it, both viewing clips you took, and to use your smartphone as a viewfinder.

There's a few things I could complain about, the app is hardly polished, but it works. It captures 15 frames a second, and again, works. I keep boggling at the fact that there's this wireless thing that's on my head, ready to save a video if anything extraordinary happens (or maybe just interesting).

Overall, it's neat, and if you have $200 to spare, and would like to pretend to be a gargoyle from Neil Stephenson's snowcrash (like I do), why not? This is about as comfortable a wearable camera as I've seen, and frankly, I would love for you to get one just so they can justify making an HD Looxcie in the not so distant future. I just hope Youtubers like Shaycarl or KassemG makes the Looxcie internet-famous.

Buy it here: Looxcie on Amazon ($199)

Specs:
Weight: 28g (1 oz.)
HVGA Video (15 frames / second)
4GB internal storage
f 2.8 lens
Auto color and light correction
5 hrs video storage
4 hrs record time
MP4 output (requires email on Android currently, or connecting the Looxcie to a computer via USB)

Headset
Dual silicon MEMS microphones, which aren't incredible, but work.
33 ft Range
DSP noise cancellation
6 hrs talk time

Posted by nym at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2009

my Technomadic Hacks in Cyberpunk Non-Fiction; "C/Punk/Doc"

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I met Laszlo Kovacs, Director of C/Punk/Doc through the amazing forums @ Cyberpunk Review. He invited me to submit media just as they were wrapping production, so we have a 1.5 minute segment on my Wearable and Nomadic Computing work that begins Act 2. Narration is by Hawk from American Gladiators, over the song Teenage Hitman by Encephalon. Thank you Wood, Keypixel, and my other fellow Cyberpunks.

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February 22, 2009

IncrediBIL!

I've been meaning to say hi to everyone I met at the 2nd BIL Conference and thanks for tuning in. It was a great networking weekend for the wearable computing community in LA. We want to put together a non-con AKA un-conference like Mobile Camp. Maybe we'll spin off Steve Mann's term for a wearable computer; WearComp, and call our non-con WearCamp or WearComp Camp. I'll write more later on some excellent BIL talks and interactions about Wearable Computing, Cyborg, and H+ soon. I want to gather some photos, video, and audio together to help share the phun.

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DIY Day Today in LA

"Sunday is DIY DAY @sugarshack, clothing swap and restyling. Got something you want to work on but don't have the right tool? Try us out. 2-6PM" It's at the blue house on the corner of Pico and Windsor, 2 blocks west of Crenshaw. I'll be giving a little presentation about hardware hacking for wearable computing.

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December 31, 2008

Wearable Computing @ 25C3

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Via Hackaday, the 25th Chaos Communication Congress's Wearable Computing and Solar Power presentations roused me from blog hibernation to say Happy Holidays and please don't text and drive. For abstracts, lecture notes, slides, and links, you too can veer off; About Cyborgs and Gargoyles:State of the Art in Wearable Computing, and Solar-powering your Geek Gear: Alternative and mobile power for all your little toys.

New Year's greetings from under a rock. No, I haven't been in the desert lately, but I have been in other realms. I've been getting into some high voltage shenanigans, the splendid forums at Cyberpunk Review, back into microcontrollers with the Seeeduino, interfacing it with Pure Data, and touring exhibition and interactive design. 2009 is looking to be hacktastic, but more on that next year.

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August 10, 2008

1st Tangible Exchange was a rip-roaring success!

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Above, Alice Tseng-Planas's textile capacitive sensors and breadboarded Qprox chip with LED indicators

Many thanks to the organizer/presenters Alice Tseng-Planas and Syuzi Pakhchyan, Mark Allen for availing Machine Project, presenters JooYoun Payek and Gilad Lotan, and the assembly! I'd guess we had about 30 people at this first meet-up. Some were in town for SIGGRAPH 2008, some had met or come through advanced degree technology programs like Tisch ITP and Parsons CD&T, some were crafty, and some were just intrigued by the concept of the event. We began a contact list, shared information, and were proud to bolster LA's burgeoning tech-arts social scene with a wearable and materials technology special interest group.

texchange blog

More event images below:

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Alice's touch-pad quilt interior


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Trying out Gilad's imPulse device, a wireless telepresence device for sensing and visual/haptic display of two participant's pulses


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Syuzi presents some materials like conductive thread and textiles, laser cut and sewn circuit traces and sensors, and other projects presented in her new O'Reilly/CRAFT book, Fashioning Technology.


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JooYoun gives a sneak-peak at her SIGGRAPH 2008 presentation

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August 08, 2008

Electronics Sewing Circle

From: Machine Project dot com:
Sunday, August 10th, 2008
1pm - 3pm

THE FORMAT:

contribute a tutorial introducing a single topic or technique

gather to make connections across disciplines
leave with tangible, usable techniques and patterns


From: the Machine Project mailing list:
"
Please join us from 1pm-3pm Sunday August 10th for a meeting of Tangible Exchange (tex), a sewing circle for people who like to sewing electronics into stuff. This casual meet up is for those seeking skills trade, collaboration, inspiration, techniques, and exposure to topics with an emphasis on fiber, physical computing, textiles, wearables, and all matters of materials. If you have experience in these topics and are interested in contributing a tutorial or presenting a topic, please email textopic@gmail.com with your idea. If you have no experience but are curious, come to meet other people who are interested in the same topic. If you have neither experience or interest, but are really thirsty or get confused and think something else is happening at Machine Sunday afternoon, come by anyway and we will give you a nice cool glass of water.
"

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June 26, 2008

My N430

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N430_wiring.jpg
This is the work I exhibited at Maker Faire this Spring. I've been hacking my Archos PMA-430 into wearable computer prototypes for 2 years, and hacking my Nokia N95 for about 9 months. The top image shows a video feed from my Nokia to my Archos, while the image below it shows the unhoused wiring that adds functionality such as USB connectivity and power.

Systems integration is designed for field-reconfigurability and use of ubiquitous technologies such as USB ports and ethernet or phone cables. I can charge both devices from AC, my motorcycle, its solar panel, or even a random computer in any number of libraries, cafes, etc. The two devices link up through a retractable 8-conductor ethernet cable, although I can use a multitude of available cords. The green terminal blocks allow field connections without soldering, since I believe the universal connector is bare wire if no adaptors are nearby.

I have hundreds of images of my work, and lots to write about, so there will be much more ahead. Just a Heads-Up.

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April 07, 2008

Wearaware and IGargoyle Do Maker Faire

See me at Maker Faire!
Come meet Nym and I and bring your wearables! We're here to profile and promote the community's work on this site, so let's meet, get some media, and get it up here. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

I'll be exhibiting my latest in the Wearaware collection.

More roving telepresence hacks from the brothers!

More Soon!

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March 18, 2008

Introducing: My Technomadism Hacks

I haven't been posting much, but I have been researching, developing, rapid prototyping, and hacking. I'm applying my love of desert camping, travel, wearable technology, and embedded computing to my urban flagship; a duosport motorcycle. Here's a first look:

solar-nav-storage:
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This photo shows items I transformed into a top case and a tank bag.

While commuting, the top case can hold gear from errands. While touring, it can carry as much gas a my tank holds plus water. I can remove it anytime. This allows off-roading without extra fuel sloshing around in an enlarged tank. It is made from an LP case, and stability tests will determine if it's indeed more versatile than a top case and replacement gas tank; easily at a savings of at least $200.

The tank bag is made from a folding map case, magnets, and wiring. It's appropriate that it holds my phone with GPS, a non-networked highway infrastructure computer, compass and pencil pack, map, and a solar battery charger for my bike and auuxilliary device battery. I'm sure it'll still also hold an actual paper map or two. I can't find many tank bags with top map pockets that will fit my sloped gas tank. So, I made a form-fitting one that mostly multplies the functionality of the feature I wanted most anyway; a large map pocket.

Posted by robo at 06:28 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 01, 2008

Wearable Computing on BBTV on CNN

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CNN has broadcast a segment on Boing Boing TV, which shows a clip from my segment as it mentions "a demonstration of wearable computers" as a primary example of BBTV content. Online video-on-demand can be viewed here. BBTV uses a still from the segment, shown above, to represent it on their BBTV In The News page and here too. This still is also an except from their segment about my wearable computing work. I am honored and it has got me thinking...

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November 12, 2007

Mixed Reality Cartography Corset

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A wearable device for Gordan Savicic's "Constraint City: The Pain of Everyday Life", includes: "A chest strap (corset) with high torque servo motors and a WIFI-enabled game-console are worn as fetish object. The higher the wireless signal strength of close encrypted networks, the tighter the corset becomes." Whether it is meant to be painful or pleasurable seems unclear.

I suggest exploring the link below to glean the project's conceptual background. I find its discourse reminiscent of Stelarc's. I do share the artist's interest in sensing the electromagentic waves permeating our environment; even to the extent of mapping it to haptic feedback. However, regarding the restriction of the public through normally undetectable information layers, I do not share his tenet that secure WiFi networks are as actively constrictive as this project asserts. Perhaps wireless security cameras and traffic lights are even more controling than secure WiFi, since private citizens should have the right to encrypt their networks from the public without suspicion of conspiracy.

[Link via Make:]

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November 10, 2007

Glog On

Well, despite error messages I had received while trying to Glog from my Treo 650, it turns out my images did indeed get posted. These are from BarCamp LA-3 from March.

MobileCamp LA was a complete blast, and I won a Nokia N95, which will be much easier to Glog from. I am running the Glogger application, rather than using MMS, but I will be relying on WiFi until I transfer my service over from Sprint. I have several hacks in mind for my N95, as hinted at in the my Maker Square post, and I will get into that later. I look forward to Glogging about my future hacks, and more. Some of them will be Meta-Glogs, since they will help document my wearable technology work.

I am also going to be checking out the application included with my N95 called Lifeblogger. It will be interesting to share my comparisons of Lifeblogger and Glogger and playing with ways to use each application to do so.

Posted by robo at 04:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Meet me at Makers' Square

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"The Maker Faire team is joining forces with Felt Club for the upcoming
Felt Club XL Holiday event - Sunday, November 18 th from 11am-6pm on
the Los Angeles City College campus (855 N Vermont Ave, LA CA 90029)..."

[via BarCamp LA mailing list]

Here's my abstract:
"My contribution to Maker Square will be wearable computing hacks for PDAs. My focus will be on two devices I am hacking right now that can be used as independent wearable computing platforms that can also be combined together. The two devices are more than just PDAs. One is an Archos PMA-430 PVR with A/V I/O, and the other is a Nokia N95 Smartphone with A/V I/O and Video output. I will mostly discuss hardware hacks for interfacing with the devices' I/O capabilities to create wearable computing configurations. This includes reverse engineering, custom connector kit-bashing and cloning, body mounts, on-body networks, and video connections for HMDs and cameras. I will bring a wearable harness I created for the Archos, a custom connector adaptor I created, documentation of iterative hacks, my OATH (Obligatory Altoids Tin Hack) USB Hub/Ethernet/antenae array interface, and will be conspiring live against my Nokia. I will also discuss the shift in approach between the hacks of the two devices, and how it relates to user interface design and software."


They're still accepting proposals; information below:

"This family-friendly event will feature 70+ amazing crafters,
delicious food and great music, plus an all-new section called MAKER
SQUARE, a miniature version of Maker Faire ! (Felt Club is a twice-
yearly indie craft fair featuring the best and brightest of the SoCal
craft scene. Our carefully juried shows highlight a wide variety of
handmade goods, including handbags and jewelry, baby gifts and paper
products, clothing and housewares, one-of-a-kind plushies and original
artwork. In between shows, we host a variety of craft-related events
around the city, including how-to workshops, craft supply swaps, and
more - www.feltclub.com ).

Maker Square is organized by the staff of Make and Craft magazines and
is a mini-fair that brings together science, art, craft and
engineering in a fun, energized and exciting public forum. The aim is
to inspire people of all ages to roll up their sleeves and become
makers. We will showcase the amazing work of all kinds of makers--
anyone who is embracing DIY and wants to share their accomplishments
with an appreciative audience.

We encourage you to join the fun and enter a project to exhibit. You
can submit you entry by sending an email to sherry@oreilly.com. In
your Maker Square entry request, please tell us about yourself and
your project. Entries can be submitted from individuals as well as
from groups such as hobbyist clubs and schools. Please provide a short
description of what you make and what you will actually bring to Maker
Square. Please provide links to photographs or videos of what you
make. Maker exhibits should be non-commercial. We particularly
encourage exhibits that are interactive and that highlight the process
of making things. Please remember that our space is outdoors and we
do not have access to electricity.

Here's some suggested ideas for topics that we're looking for:
Things Made From Recycled Items
Microcontrollers
Robotics
Making Musical Instruments
Bicycle Hacks
Ham Radio
Puzzles, Games and Toys
Cars (hot rods, custom vans, electric vehicles)
Airplanes and Aeronautics (models, etc)
Biology/Biotech
Chemistry
Cool RC Toys & Mods
Video Games (retro, home arcade and more)
Model Trains and Planes
Weaving/Looms (historical or unusual)
Kites
Temporary Structures (Tents, Domes, etc.)
Unusual Tools or Machines
How to Fix Things or Take them Apart (Vacuums, Clocks, Washing
Machines, etc.)

Maker Square Space: Our standard setup for each Maker is roughly a
10x10 space. Use this space to display your work and/or demonstrate
how you make something. You will need to bring your own tables and
chairs.

NOTE: Makers whose entries are accepted will receive free admission to
Felt Club/Maker Square. However, we cannot pay for transportation and
accommodations. Makers do not pay a fee to exhibit at Felt Club/Maker
Square and maker exhibits are non-commercial.

If you have any questions about participating in Maker Faire, please
contact us by email: sherry@oreilly.com

We look forward to seeing you at Felt Club XL Holiday/Maker Square on
November 18th in Los Angeles!


Best,

Sherry Huss
Director
707-827-7074
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Jenny Ryan
FELT CLUB
e: info@feltclub.com
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
web: http://www.feltclub.com
blog: http://www.feltclub.com/news/index.php
myspace: http://myspace.com/feltclub
flickr: http://flickr.com/groups/feltclub/
"

Posted by robo at 04:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2007

SEAMLESS 2008 CFP

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"We are looking for fashion design which pushes the boundaries of technology — computational & conceptual couture & wearables, fashion with a social agenda concerning technology (although may not have embedded technology), and fashion produced using algorithmic fabrication or innovative manufacturing techniques. Because of the exhibition format, it will also be possible to show architectural textile installations"

CFP at twenty1F and past years

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March 28, 2007

Ross Bochnek: Wearable Hacks at ETech07

Near or heard of San Diego today? Come to free events at ETech including a small Exhibit Hall during the day and Make Fest, Warewolf, and DemoCamp in the evening. At Make Fest, from 7:30-9:30pm in Douglas A in the Manchester Grand Hyatt, iGargoyle author RoBo will be introducing Wearable Hacks and Connector Kitbashing from Wearaware Labs, including tutorials on modular and field-reconfigurable Cradle Connector Clones for Archos PMA/AV devices.

"Glog and presentation videos from my presentation at BarCamp LA 3 are coming soon, as well as more articles."- Ross

Posted by nym at 01:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2007

Twitter - Blogging Simplified?

So, I am both astounded at how much traction twitter is getting for such a simple app, and also pleased at the idea of having something so utterly wearable friendly as a community of people saying things like "falling out of love very fast", "relaxing away from the computer" or "gone to bed". Yeah, it's simple. Simple is good though, people like simple. Simply put, this is a killer app for the wearable world because it's so simple, you can do it from IM, SMS, or anything else that can send a message. I could even see a morse code API for this thing ;-)

Anyways, I dare you, in fact I double dog dare you to hook up a twiddler and get twittering. Yeah, it's dorky having a one handed keyboard, but hey, whoever said wearable computing was sexy? If it means everyone knows your precise movements moment by moment it's worth it right?

[ Link ]

Posted by nym at 07:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Just In Time Watch

I'm extremely interested in the User Interface side of wearable computing, as well as the push / pull relationship between the devices we wear. It's one thing to be able to have a wearable computer (cellphone, PDA, wearcomp) that allows you to see your calendar. It's another thing to have that calendar remind you when an event is coming up. It's a whole other thing when the wearable computer tries to make intelligent decisions about the event and your surroundings in order to push more information to the user, especially in a simple and easy to understand way.

This video communicates exactly what excites me about wearable computing. Sure it's great that I have a cellphone that can look up movie times. It's a whole other thing to have a device that allows you to simply find out what movies are playing in the immediate vicinity that you can reasonably get to on time. Simply put, "Just In Time" rocks.

(watch the entire video and note the gesture user interface.... it's worth it)

[ Link via Ordaos. Thanks Ordaos!]

Posted by nym at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2006

Light Emitting Shirts!

Oooh, purdy colors...

Check out this cool new technology Philips is showcasing at IFA 2006 in Berlin. It's amazing! They are integrating LEDs into fabric and had some jackets and a couch there. Really cool!

[ via ordaos ]

Posted by nym at 03:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 18, 2006

UbiComp, etc

The UbiComp conference on ubiquitous computing is going on at the moment, and unfortunately I'm not there to cover it, even though the event is local. I owe this to bad timing and not getting the press pass from the conference organizers, but it's my hope someone from the event will share what it was like, especially Bruce Sterling's keynote.

If you're around the Orange County area, my fellow blogger Nicolas from Pasta & Vinegar (an excellent read), is around for coffee. I would take him up on it, but I'm leaving for the Web of Change conference tomorrow morning, which is up in British Columbia.

In other news, my friend Isa Gordon is moving back to LA, and I'm extremely excited about publishing more about her exploits, she's quite an interesting force in the wearable computing. If you haven't seen her work, I encourage you to check that out as well!

Hopefully I'll get some time to write on the blog while I'm up in beautiful Can-eh-de-uh, I've been seriously neglecting my cyborg fantasies as of late!

Cheers,
nym

P.S., here's a video of me attempting to explain the Semantic Web to a roadwarrior.

Posted by nym at 12:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

FluxBits: Wearable game interfaces

In the traditional type of gaming experience a designer designs the type of experience that player will have. FluxBits are wearable game interfaces that transform objects around into controls for the game you are playing. Meta controllers such as FluxBits allow for an Open Design approach to gaming, where traditional gaming doesn't.

For instance, you could use a clip board as a steering wheel for a driving game or an umbrella as a joy stick. It's completely up to the user. FluxBits are worn on the person and accompany the individual through out the day, enabling game play to take place where ever the user wants. The individual FluxBit pieces form an ad-hoc network, communicating with a central mobile device, which would be used as the display during game play.

fluxbits5.jpgFluxBits translates the movement of the object into directions for the video game and sends this to the display device. Here the player is using a bus strap to play Pac-Man with her Nintendo DS.

Once someone has used an object, they can mark the object with a sticker to indicate to other players how it might be turned into a game interface. Example: A player puts a FluxBit sticker on a bus strap, indicating where a FluxBit can be attached for playing. Also, each sticker that is attached to an object has associated with it a scorecard, listing who has played here and their hi-score. This scorecard is accessed with a mobile phone, using a tracking ID or RFID tag on the sticker itself. When players find a sticker, they can see who has played there and what are the hi-scores to beat. By playing a game at this location, the player’s own records are updated on the scorecard. Dedicated players can request a map of the city with tagged gaming locations and spend a day seeking out these locations to play.

There are more possibilities here in terms of the form of these FluxBits. But the developer is satisfied right now with rather abstract images of the fashion accessory handcuff.

Right now prototypes exist as hardware clamps:

fluxbits_gcs.jpg

Here is a video of the FluxBits being used in it's prototype phase:

[ Link ]

Posted by robo at 03:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 08, 2006

Levi's iPod Jeans

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Finally a picture of Levi's iPod Jeans, the ones that we talked about at the very beginning of the year. Damn, they do look pretty good too.

[ Link via engadget ]

Posted by nym at 07:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 03, 2006

Archos WiFi, GPS, DTV, 3.5G enabled PMP?

av700tv.jpgI've been lusting after Archos hardware recently for my soon-to-be wearable, and I found this article on Archos' roadmap. It looks great, in fact, like an ultimate media gadget. We're talking about a 4.3-inch screen, WiFi, GPS, DTV, and 3.5G cellular modems all packed into one device. Imagine streaming YouTube to your iPod, but make the screen bigger, and add the ability to check your email and get directions. The picture above has a myrad of antennas, and is called the AV 700 TV. Lust does not fully describe what I'm feeling right now.

[ Link via engadget ]

Posted by nym at 03:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2006

1984 Wrist Computer

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The Seiko UC-2000 wrist computer from 1984. Ah, memories. Funny how wrist computers never did seem to do very well. Still people lust after wrist PCs.

Each character was 5x7 pixels. There were 4 lines of text with 10 columns each.

That makes the effective resolution 50x28.

[ Link ]

Posted by nym at 02:58 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

Homemade Video Sunglasses with HUD

Here's a page showing how Don Papp made his own pair of video sunglasses with Heads Up Display that looks pretty subtle. There are many pictures of the work in progress, all worth checking out.

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[ Link ]

Posted by xander at 01:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 05, 2006

Wearaware's Wearable Computer

wearaware.jpgI presented a wearable computing prototype based upon an Archos PMA-430 and a network I am starting for people who want to add wearable configurations to handheld electronics such as PDAs and recording devices. The PMA-430 combines the functionality of an embedded Linux computer with a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). A novel accessory converts the proprietary "Multi-Connect Jack" (MCJ) to a more modular, field-reconfigurable 1/10"-center socket. The prototype fits into a single pouch, but other modules are also being developed to be incorporated into vests, jackets, and other designs rather than utility belts. They include integrated active noise cancellation, a music/phone headset, biometric sensors, media switcher, and integrated status display.

Some applications include Glogging, Warwalking, and together, Moblogging. This means the ability to log notes, media, and leverage wireless access points for sharing them in a low-profile and low-power setup. All this can be walked around with while still having use of at least one hand available for manual tasks. While the analog A/V I/O capabilities are inherent to the PMA, this is the first project to make them all mobile. With its 30 GB HD, full
motion video, WiFi, and embedded Linux OS, the PMA has radical potential for [cyborg] Glogging. This is the first step towards accessing these and other functions in a more wearable, private way that protects the device from fumbles and helps to free a hand or two.

archospma430.jpgIt is an experimental platform for communications, Glogging, memory augmentation, art, and teaching about Humanistic Intelligence (HI) and modular systems architecture. HI is a concept of Steve Mann's that helps me educate those who are afraid of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and feel that becoming a cyborg a priori diminishes humanity. It depends upon the system, and we are still in the homebrew stage of Wearable Computing. We can raise issues early before some monopoly releases devices that are easy-to-use because they dumb-down user-re-configurability. HI lets both the brain and computer do the types of processing each is best at, in a more
symbiotic arrangement. Like Professor Mann's, this project is amenable to education, experimentation, and activism.

I will present again at DorkBot Socal this summer, and look forward to working with people I’ve met online, at Dorkbot and neighbors for wearable computing designs with Archos models, HP clamshell organizers, Asus MyPal and Dell Axim X5xx PDAs.

-wearaware

[ Check out Wearaware's personal site at http://www.roboch.net, and keep a look out for more articles from him on igargoyle.com. He also has a site about his wearable here. You can contact him about his research at wearaware at yahoo dot com ]

Posted by nym at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Wearable at Where2.0

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This is graduate student Daniel L. Ashbrook from the Georgia Institue of Technology at the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose, CA. Picture by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media.

Posted by nym at 11:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

Dear Lazyweb (DVR Question)

I'm thinking about buying the Archos AV 700 with a 100GB drive for wearable video recording. Does anyone have experience with this? Can you recommend another unit that's reasonably priced?

Thanks!
nym

Posted by nym at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

Steve Mann's Glogger Released!

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I'm pleased to announce that, Cyborg, Steve Mann and his crew of students are hard at work on a new project that embraces the gargoyle community at large called Glogger. Glogger in their words is "A web service and program that allows people to instantaneously share content from their camera phones (Nokia or Sony Erricsson) or manually from their digital camera.", but I see it as being more ambitious than just another textamerica. This project really aims to bring together the ubiquitious computing community with a service to help enable people in sharing their cyborg experiences.

I'm working with James Fung to create a series of API's that will really empower this service, and I'm already making feature requests. The big benefit of having strong APIs is that, like flickr, people will be able to incorporate glogger into their own personal home pages and create other open source mashups. Already James has a simple way to include a person's feed onto a website using an IFRAME, like this:

James has been really great about getting code underway, and I encourage anyone else out there with a wearable camera to sign up and start uploading. More infomation to come, I'm sure. This is really exciting stuff!

[ Link via James Fung. Thanks James! ]

Posted by nym at 01:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 26, 2006

Future Sign Holding Jobs

I'm not sure if there's a bleaker look into the future than this:

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"yes. and if a genuine ufo lands in japan, nobody will even care. : )"

[ Link to flickr image via wemakemoneynotart ]

Posted by nym at 10:48 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

The eHelmet

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I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force, despite how stupid and annoying it can be. I just picked up the last season on DVD. This episode called "eDork" is all about how Shake gets this thing called the eHelmet, which is the most insane wearable ever. Eventualy it gets so loaded up with add-ons that Shake can't move whatsoever. Funny thing is that this might actually have been based off a real product that the Japanese were developing, which happened to cause horrible neck problems.

Shake: I am not gonna turn on some analog faucet!

[ Link ]

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April 13, 2006

ISWC Call For Papers

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The International Symposium on Wearable Computers is making a call for papers. The conference is a ways off (October 11-14), and a ways away (Montreux, Switzerland), but if you're developing something in the ways of wearable computing, this is the place to present it.
Submissions now open for the Tenth IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers! Submissions can include full papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages), poster papers (2 pages), demonstrations, tutorials and workshops, and exhibits. All submissions are due on April 21st.

[ Link via the Wear-Hard mailing list ]

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April 10, 2006

Wearable Computing For The Masses

As a reader of igargoyle, do you identify with cyborgs? Transhumanists? Hardware enthusiasts? Something else?

Vitorio Miliano answered this question with a very thoughtful answer that both questions my initial question, and also addresses wearable computing for the masses:

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"Busy." "Overworked." "Forgetful." "Human."

I see wearables and ubiquitous computing in general as a solution for time management, information storage and a way to eliminate the modern workplace need for continuous partial attention, and to be able to go back to giving 100% of our attention to the task at hand by having the computer dictate what that task needs to be.

Mediated reality, digital autoassociative memories, it seems to me that all of this is being toyed with for the sake of toying. There are no serious efforts being made to produce something usable by the mass market, nothing that will take all our inputs during the day, email, news feeds, TV, IMs, schedules, appointments, interrupting coworkers,
family responsibilities, and filter out everything we either don't want to deal with or shouldn't be dealing with or can better deal with at another time.

There's no Jeff Hawkins for wearable/ubiquitous computing. There's no-one who is walking around with a block of wood strapped to their back and face figuring out the best way a single mom middle manager with two kids is going to most effectively use a device that can orchestrate her entire day for her if she would only trust it.

There's no-one taking those use cases and building a multimodal UI that's consistent and efficient and effective and unobtrusive, because having a high resolution HMD so you can run Microsoft Word isn't going to be the way this sort of technology is going to take off. Input must be passive and hands-free unless it's a pointed moment in time, such as interrupting a conversation to say "computer" or pulling out a touchpad so you can write in Graffiti or on a Blackberry-style chiclet keyboard.

Ubiquitous computing needs wearable computing to happen because of the bandwidth problem. The world will never be saturated with multi-megabit wireless bandwidth, and once you come to trust your computer, not having
it available because you're in between cell towers is not going to be pleasant: it's going to be disorienting. Storage and processing capacity will always beat bandwidth in availability. You'll store more information on you, not in the cloud, as time moves forward, so you need ways to ubiquitously present your information, from a behind-the-bathroom-mirror screen to the seatback touchscreen on an airplane to the stereo in your car. Only the work done with multimodal wearable UIs will support that.

The PalmPilot wasn't created to replace the desktop, just to replace a pad of paper. Modern handhelds and phones have forgotten that. Wearables still haven't figured it out. Hardware is essentially a solved problem, has been for years. Physical design and multimodal UI design for mass market appeal and everyday use isn't. No-one's even
started on it, because those that could be are already sitting in front of a high-resolution multi-processor desktop ten hours a day.

I sold off my wearable prototyping hardware because messing with it was a distraction from the real work in this that needs to be done: the user interfaces. A multimodal UI obviously includes a desktop component, because workstations will never go away, so nothing is stopping me from getting started right now besides my own false preconceptions.

All the pieces to accomplish this are out there, right now, today. They have been for years. Will the next Jeff Hawkins please stand up?

[ via the Wear-Hard mailing list ]

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April 05, 2006

Who "Glogs"?

Steve Mann coined the term Glog, which refers to a cyborg log. I personally like the idea of it also meaning "gargoyle blog", but that's just because I'm obsessed with Stephenson's idea of a gargoyle capturing vast ammounts of information around him. Mann describes a glog like this:
The main difference between weBLOGS and cyborGLOGS is that blogs often originate from a desktop computer, wheras glogs can originate while walking around, often without any conscious thought and effort, as stream-of-(de)consciousness glogging

Joi Ito is a prime example of a glogger, with his moblog. It is my desire for igargoyle to become an aggregator of gloggers, or transhumanist mobloggers, especially those who have a POV camera capturing imagery.

This was my original concept four years ago, and still is pulsing within me, but I just do not know enough people.

If you have a glog, are interested in starting one, or know of other who do. Please contact me.

[ Related: Record Your Entire Day ]

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April 04, 2006

Audio Balerinas and Audio Peacocks

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Ah to be an artist- an artist obsessed with wearable audio. Imagine spending over twenty years coming up with new ways to put speakers on people in creative ways. Maybe you think that's crazy, maybe you think that's brilliant. In either case it makes for some funny pictures. Actually kind of inspiring actually. The above photo is of the "AUDIO BALLERINAS", which incorporated solar panels, along with speakers and samplers.

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This other photo is of the "AUDIO PEACOCK", which to me makes me think of a human megaphone, which while amusing makes me think of hearing loss since it uses 16 loudspeakers (150 watts).

The "audio-plumage" is highly directional and functions like an electroacoustic radar dish -- esthetically it has much in common with the way a peacock parades itself in front of the pea-hen (the audience). An Audio Peacock can either amplify its own electronic instrument and voice or receive sounds from outside sources via transmitter/receiver and disseminate them in a space by orienting his high-tech "plumage". Four Audio Peacock units can be acoustically choreographed as a mobile quadrophonic loudspeaker system.

[ Link via del ]

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April 01, 2006

Transhumanists & Society

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Transhumanists, the group of intellectuals who desire to use new sciences and technologies to increase the human existance both cognitively and physically are very interesting to me, not just because of the advances that they're pushing, but also because of the social backlash to those goals.

When I was younger, I was occasionally called a nerd, mostly because when I wasn't able to become wildly social with my peers, I turned to computers- one thing I could control and completely own mentally. Like most others who had similar experiences, I'm no longer called a nerd, but instead the more favorable term, "geek". I get this respect because this social group has grown through the dot com boom, and the push of the world wide web. I no longer wish to hide my interests as a geek, but stand tall.

Transhumanists though, while a subset of geeks, are less understood. In fact the idea of modifying oneself seems outright alien to many. The idea of pushing one's human shell to the limits to improve performance, and lifespan is even threatening to some. I myself have had conversations with people where I've expressed my desire to live for centuries instead of just one, and found myself in an argument about playing god. Nevertheless the goals of the transhumanist movement are appealing to many, which Stacy Robinson addresses in her book Transhumanism Reloaded:

...It may be a mistake to dismiss the transhumanists as a harmless group of under-socialized techno-geeks. Their vision of a world in which atomized individuals use technology and free markets to achieve dominance over others differs in degree, and not kind, from much of the real world today. At a time when many people feel powerless to influence social conditions, their message—don’t worry about society; technology will make you smart, strong, and attractive—could seem compelling.

It may seem foreign and strange right now to wear head mounted displays and want to put impant electronics under our skin now, but I think like theg geeks and the world wide web, transhumanism and cyborganics are going to become more and more accepted as this group of individuals excels beyond others. I will stand tall with my desire to augment myself because the idea of improving myself is compelling, and I believe while the transhumanist movement is young, the work being done now will be the foundations for years to come.

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March 29, 2006

Device Alerts You if You're Boring

Wearable computing is helping the boring and and irrating by giving the wearer cues when the person they're talking to is loosing interest or getting annoyed. Most people don't really need devices like this, but for those with autism have an inability to pick up on social cues that are natural to the rest of us.

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The "emotional social intelligence prosthetic" device, which El Kaliouby is constructing along with MIT colleagues Rosalind Picard and Alea Teeters, consists of a camera small enough to be pinned to the side of a pair of glasses, connected to a hand-held computer running image recognition software plus software that can read the emotions these images show. If the wearer seems to be failing to engage his or her listener, the software makes the hand-held computer vibrate.

Now it would be great to have something like this that was designed to do the opposite, give information to the wearer when they're being interesting. Instead of getting negative signals, they would get positive signals. This stuff is very similar to lie detection with facial recognition. Expect the robots / cyborgs / big brother to be very hip to what you're up to in that near near future.

[ Link via Google News ]

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March 23, 2006

Wrist Worn PC

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Displays for wearable computers seems to be a big issue since many don't want to have something obstructing their eyesight. This wrist worn personal computer attempts to tackle this problem by affixing the display directly to the wrist. Is this going to be fashionable? Probably not, but it is functional. It has a touch screen which can be used with a stylus and can run for six hours. I still get the feeling that this is just like strapping an iPaq to your wrist somehow.

[ Link via reader John Champlin ]

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March 15, 2006

Xybernaut Aids Street Lighting

Xybernaut's wearable computers are getting used in the United Kingdom to aid workers in maintaining street lights. Seems pretty logically really... workers aren't sitting behind a desk, yet need access to databases and mapping technology, no brainer, get them wearable computers.

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Amey's engineers are using the [Xybernaut's wearable tablet-style PC's] to verify and update street lighting numbering, asset attributes and location, with an in-vehicle printer allowing column number stickers to be produced onsite.

The mobile PC also runs MapNow®, the MAYRISE mapping system. This allows Amey's engineers to update unit locations aided by on-screen street maps that are displayed together with lighting unit locations. Following field survey work, the mobile PC synchronises with a central MAYRISE system, instantly updating records from the field survey.

Everyone has Sidekicks, and cellphones these days... how far off are cyborgs becomming a common occurance?

[ Link via google news ]

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March 01, 2006

Wearable Prototype For Sale

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Vitorio Miliano, who was behind the "Record Your Entire Day" work, is selling his prototype wearable. Normally this kind of thing would go directly to the wear-hard mailing list, but it appears to be down again, so this time igargoyle readers get first crack at it. This looks like a decent deal in my opinion, but here's the details for you to chew over:

Two (2) Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 Linux-based PDAs One (1) Decade Engineering XBOB serial NTSC character generator One (1) Ingineo Eyetop HMD Two (2) Essential Reality P5 gloves Various and sundry serial cables, power adapters, screen protectors, an extra battery, manuals, discs, the Sharp Zaurus CF camera, etc.

One of the Zauruses has been completely disassembled and reassembled and is missing a screw here or there, but otherwise works just fine. The other is nearly new with full box and manuals, and recently flashed back to the latest official Sharp firmware. The Eyetop does not include those awful "glasses" it was attached to; it's just the eyepiece now. One of the P5 gloves is completely disassembled down to the flex sensors and USB adapter, the other is still in the box.

Original costs were around a thousand dollars (US). It'd be nice if someone wanted to spend 4-500 on this, but best offer takes the lot (preferable) or I'll piecemeal it out. It'd be shipping from Austin, TX, USA.

And here's the link to his original wear-hard post about his wearable, which explains where he was going with his project.

I hope this can make someone happy... I would have asked for a cut of the profits, but it sounds like he's just trying to do another wearable hacker a favor.

[ Email vito_wearhard at perilith.com to make an offer ]

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February 07, 2006

Record Your Entire Day

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Making a wearable that can record your entire day isn't just possible, it can be done for less than 1k. We're not talking about a webcam taking pictures every few seconds either, this is 14 hours of 640x480 30 frames per second MPEG-4 video. Nice huh?

Vitorio Miliano writes:

Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2, $150 (direct)
Viosport Adventure Cam II, $200 (direct)
8GB Seagate CF Microdrive, $210 (amazon)

For under $600 you have nearly everything you need. Add a battery pack
for the Recorder 2, add a GPS tracker to log your position throughout
the day, and you're still under a thousand dollars (US).

At the end of the day you have 14 hours of 1mbps 640x480 30fps MPEG-4
video and audio, plus GPS tracks. 8GB is little enough data you can fit
it on one dual-layer or double-sided writable DVD, one disc per day.

For better quality (2mbps) video, get two Microdrives and swap midday,
but you'll need two DVDs per day for all that data.

Don't want to risk your day to rotational media? Get a pair of 4GB
CompactFlash cards and an external photo storage HD (HD + cardreader in
on unit) like the Vosonic or Mediagear units, swap the 4GB cards after
three or four hours each, and dump it to the HD while the other one is
recording live. 4GB CF are ~$200 each, and the HD will be another $200.
Or, just get four 4GB CF cards for 16 hours on solid state media.

The Neuros Recorder looks pretty good. The register did a review of it here, which shows the unit as well as sample images captured with it.

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AdventureCam is another project that uses the Neuro to do point of view camera capture. This technique with the Neuros Recorder seems like a seriously good solution if you don't care about doing any kind of processing while you're capturing your video.

[ via the wear-hard mailing list ]

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January 18, 2006

Light Weight Eye Tracking Wearable

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I love pictures of wearable computers, and girls always make these things look less geeky. This is a system designed to track eye movement. Not sure why that's important beyond doing usability testing or marketing focus groups, but it's certainly nice to see people hacking this stuff together.

Jason S. Babcock and Jeff B. Pelz put together this paper on building a simple, lightweight eyetracker (PDF) to foster the creation of open source eyetracking software. All of the components are mounted to a cheap pair of safety glasses. The eyetracker uses a technique called “dark-pupil” illumination. An IR LED is used to illuminate the eye. The pupil appears as a dark spot because it doesn’t reflect the light. A bright spot also appears on the cornea where the IR is directly reflected. An eye camera is mounted next to the IR LED to record the image of eye with these two spots. Software tracks the difference between the two spots to determine the eye orientation. A laser mounted to the frame helps with the initial calibration process. A scene camera placed above the eye records what the eye is viewing. The video from these two cameras can be compared in real time or after the experiment is concluded. [Hack A Day]

[ PDF Link via hackaday ]

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January 13, 2006

Mine Safety Gear

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With the tragedy at Sago Mine, the question of miner safety has become a major issue. To me, it's not just an issue of having ample rescue teams, but also of wearable computing. Some mines are using sensors throughout the mines, but why not go the next step and incorporate wearable computing to put sensors on the people themselves?
Some larger mine operations have atmospheric monitoring systems, with sensors placed throughout the mine to detect methane levels, smoke and carbon monoxide. All the information is fed into a computer on the surface, and dispatchers relay information about system failures to the teams below ground, said Mr. O'Dell.

I know wearable computing is expensive, and mines are not known for good wages, but it seems like they still lack simple communicative technologies, as ways for miners to communicate with the surface in the event of an emergency. Lets get these guys some technology folks!

[ Link via Google News. Image from NPR. ]

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December 22, 2005

Alert! You're going to die!

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Damn those artists. Someone built this device that basically is designed to tell you when you're expected to die. I bet this would make a great christmas present.

finality (endlichkeit) shows the 'remaining' heart beat pulses of the wearer on a 16-sign LCD display, by comparing the actual age of the wearer with the average amount of heart beats of a 75 year person (which with 60 beats per minute totals to about 2.365.200.000 beats in a person's life)

Bah humbug. I'll take a regular heartbeat monitor over that any day.

[ Link via Davy Kreiger ]

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December 21, 2005

Army's Cooling Vests

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The Army has developed some cooling vests to deal with a side effect of adding armor to their Humvee's. Sounds a bit like this other thing we blogged about here on igargoyle, but a little less portable, and less marshmello like.

The vests are worn under body armor and a hose from each vest is plugged into the Humvee’s on-board air-conditioning system. Liquid from the vehicle’s AC system circulates through the vest, cooling its wearer.

Some of the same engineers had designed the add-on armor kits for the M-998 and M-1025 Humvees in theater. But with the extra armor and doors closed, temperatures inside the vehicles could reportedly reach more than 130 degrees.

“It’s like putting somebody in a toaster oven on low heat,” said Charlie Bussee, an engineer at TARDEC.

[ Link via ./ ]

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December 19, 2005

Kenpo iPod Jacket

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Recently I received a Kenpo iPod Jacket to try out for igargoyle. It's a slick jacket that uses fabric sensors from elektex in the left hand sleeve to control an iPod. The wiring for the controllers is the fabric, which is really cool and is also totally washable. The jacket is very comfortable and works really well, and it's great to finally own a bit of wearable technology.

When I got the jacket, I went down to the Apple store with my girlfriend to try it out with one of their iPods. I talked to the Apple guys and gals, and they were pretty impressed with the jacket. The controls are almost completely hidden, so I had to point it out to them. They had heard of the Burton jacket, but not the Kenpo, but were pretty impressed by the fact that the controls on the sleeve didn't feel any different from the rest of the jacket. I ended up buying an iPod at the urging of my girlfriend, and took it home to try out.

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Connecting the iPod is easy, and fits nicely in the front left of the jacket.

Once I had my iPod set up, I hooked it up to the jacket, which was pretty straight forward. The iPod went in a pocket inside of the jacket, and connected to a small device to assist the controller. The controls themselves allow you to raise or lower the volume, go forward or backward with the tracks, and pause the device. My first thought was that this was a neat idea, but wouldn't work well because there wasn't a hold button, but apparently the jacket locks after seven seconds of inactivity, and you can unlock it by holding the track forward button for three seconds.

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The controls are almost impossible to see, but they're there. I'd prefer that they'd be more visible using glow in the dark paint for the night time.

At first the controls didn't work well for me, so I emailed Kenpo, and they sent me a new jacket, which worked really well. You don't have to press on the buttons too hard, and it's really great being able to mess with the iPod without pulling it out of the jacket.

I really like wearing the jacket, and will be a bit disappointed when it starts getting warmer, because this thing doesn't have any ventilation. I imagine it would be best for people in New York or San Francisco, as it keeps you pretty toasty.

This jacket, and others like it, are clearly paving the way for wearable computing, and defining new trends in fashion. It also has the potential to be an interface for other devices with a bit of soldering, as there's no reason why the play button couldn't be reused to take a picture, or to act as a simple way to control a video iPod using a head mounted device.

I basically recommend getting this if you have an iPod, and like the style. It's going for $275 USD, and can be purchased at some Macy's, Dillard's, and Comp-USA stores, or by visiting their online store. Everyone I've shown it to has been impressed, and with new flexible displays hitting the market, I don't think it will be long unitl there's a jacket that has both controls and tells you what track or playlist you're on.

[ Link via Keith / m80im ]

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December 14, 2005

Heartbeat Sports Bra

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Numetrex has released a great device for female runners, a sports bra that monitors your heartbeat. The fabric is made by Textronics, and is similar to Lycra. With the transmitter and watch, it retails for $115, and can be bought off their website.

Another similar company, Eleksen, is producing fabric that can transmit electricity without wires. I'm going to be reviewing an iPod jacket from them next week here on igargoyle.

[ Link via cnet ]

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Memory Glasses

Memory Glasses, and augmented memory is one reason I love the idea of wearable computing. My memory is horrible, and when it comes to meeting many people, sometimes I just can't remember a person's name. MIT has been working on their augmented memory project, Memory Glasses. They're like a PDA, except proactive in the sense that they try to pick out things they recognize, and give a cue of metadata about the person or thing. One of my old friends used to improve his social network by writing down every one's names and a sentence about them in an excel spreadsheet, so he would have something to say immediately when they called. This project is like that, but on steroids.

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Memory Glasses function like a personal digital assistant; plus, they factor in the user's location at all times. The specs create a profile of the wearer and drop situation-appropriate hints when needed, such as what to pick up at the grocery store or someone's name upon a second meeting.

Instead of whispering hints in the wearer's ear, the glasses run software that flashes subliminal hints on a small screen within the lenses. After entering background information into the glasses' mini-computer, wearers often won't even be aware of the glasses jogging their memories.

MIT even is working on doing subliminal cues, so that the messages "fall below the threshold of conscious perception", which aparently is good for recalling that information later without a cue ("an improvment of about 1.5 compared to the uncued control").

[ Link via usa today ]

Update:
Edward Keyes reports that this project has been dorment for the past year or two (see comments). I'd heard about this project before, but I saw it on usatoday and wanted to say something about it. Does anyone know of anyone else doing research in aumented memory?

Posted by nym at 07:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 08, 2005

AwareCuffs - Wearable WiFi Sensing

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AwareCuffs are a geek invention that has a serious amount of style behind it. The cuffs give feedback to the wearer regarding WiFi signals in the vicinity.

AwareCuffs inform the wearer about wireless hotspots in the near sourrounding. If a person wants to check if wireless LAN is available, she usually has to boot a laptop or use a Wifi-finder, which in some situations is not appropriate. Instead the wearer of AwareCuffs simply glances on the cuffs. Small light patterns that appear on the cloth indicate if wireless LAN is available and the quality of service.

Fashion that reacts to one's suroundings, be it based on movement, location, noise, or other signals, seem to be an ever growing trend, especially as SIGGRAPH's CyberFashion Show gains influence and wearable computing becomes more commonplace.

[ Link via del ]

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Fire Fighting with the I-Garment

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This suit based wearable computer called the i-garment, is designed to assist fire fighters in the Portuguese Civil Protection. It's similar to the military suit we mentioned before here on igargoyle, except that it's aimed at detecting vital signs like heartbeat and temperature, and goes one step further by monitoring the location of the wearer. I'm curious exactly how the positioning works, since GPS technology is usually fuzzy to about fifteen feet.

[ Link via we-make-money-not-art ]

Posted by nym at 01:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005

Snowboarder Glove iPod Controller

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This is a sweet looking iPod controller that is embedded in snowboarder gloves and works like a joystick. Looks like the company that partnered with O'Neil to make the wearable controller, fibretronic, is also offering their joystick knob for other products.

Dubbed the 'Fat Controller' by O'Neill, the joystick has been designed by Fibretronic to wirelessly operate an iPod player by connecting to an RF transmitter located in the cuff of the glove. The joystick is sewn into the glove on the back of the hand and the five functions (play, rewind, fast forward, volume up, volume down) can be toggled by moving the soft rubber stick. The signals from the joystick are then sent wirelessly from the transmitter in the glove to a receiver unit that plugs into the iPod player.

The joystick is suitable for incorporation into a broad range of textile or soft products and it will be seen in other ground-breaking garments and accessories next year. It offers a compact solution for controlling any type of electronic device compared to the more conventional flat style keypad systems. The joystick control system can be supplied in both 'wired' and wireless formats.

The glove will be on sale for this christmas.

[ Link via del ]

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November 18, 2005

Wireless iPod Wrist Remote

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This iPod wrist remote is another controller in the long line of wearable controllers that we've seen, and while the idea is great, I can't really say much for the design. I'm not sure if I'd wear one honestly.

That being said, the iPod is going to be marked as the first major wearable computing device alongside the cellphone, and I really want to see more come out of this. Maybe the next major iPod accessory could be an HMD for watching videos while in transit. May the floodgates open.

[ Link via del / gizmodo ]

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November 08, 2005

Wearable Translation

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Last month, Carnegie Mellon University and German scientists unveilled a new babelfish like invention using wearable computing and electrodes which translateds mouthed words into other languages, effectively becoming a personal translator. In addition, using a head mounted display (see above), they are able to translate audio around the wearer into their native tounge on their goggles. This collaborative effort between the CMU campus in Oakland and at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany is called interACT and while imperfect, is making huge leaps in breaking down linguistic barriers.

CMU computer science graduate student Stan Jou, 34, of Shadyside, stood before the audience yesterday morning with 11 tiny electrodes affixed to the muscles of his cheeks, neck and throat.

The Taiwan native then mouthed -- without speaking aloud -- the following phrase in Mandarin Chinese: "Let me introduce our new prototype."

The sensors captured electrical signals from Jou's facial muscles when they moved to form the silent Chinese words. In a matter of seconds, this information traveled to a computer that recognized the words and translated them into English and Spanish. The phrase was then displayed on a screen and spoken by the computer in both languages.

This is the kind of tech that is truely delicious and empowers people everywhere, even if it isn't perfect... yet.

[ Link via ]

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VoiceUbique: Discrete Audio Information

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VoiceUbique wants to provide discrete audio information for a variety of situations like audio guides for art tours, quiet television viewing at home, and mobile terminal access in noisy areas like on the train. They plan to do this with wireless headsets that pick up data over over an infrared chanel.

One of the things they're offering, at least optionally is RFID personalization. That is, if they know who you are by use of an RFID tag, they might say something custom to you. Wow, this sounds a lot like minority report, even if you can pull out the headphone from your year.

I can see this product as being helpful, but far from being something I'd invest in due to consumer adoption. I just don't think this would take off beyond nitch markets like museums, where they would be willing to rent out the headphones individually for self-guided audio tours.

[ Link via del ]

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November 07, 2005

Ubiquitous Fashionable Computer

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KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) has made this "Ubiquitous Fashionable Computer". I don't think they know what fashionable means, but it sounds like some they have some interesting functionality associated with it:

The wearable PC features an augmented reality HMD (640 x 480 pixel), wrist keyboard and a VR glove. One highlight is the data exchange capability with a throwing gesture, much like how one would throw a baseball. And get this - you can throw somebody wearing a UFC an MP3 file and it is transferred wirelessly to that user, it can also transmit other general data like video clips or word document files.

[ Link via google news ]

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Lumiloop Wearable LED Display

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Lumiloop is this neat wearable LED display that has a series of modules that can be chained together to make a reactive bracelet. Each has an 8x8 LED matrix, and is driven dynamically by interchangable program modules.

I asked my brother about this, and here's what he had to say:

These are really cool, especially since they have accelerometers in them to detect gestures! I get to start playing with accelerometers myself.

My brother is working on his senior project, and is going to be using accelerometers to help control a motor to aim a laser to do underwater imagery. I can't wait to blog about his stuff on here!

[ Link via del ]

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November 03, 2005

Wearable Computing Meets BW Photography

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This is a pretty gorgeous BW photo of a woman wearing a wearable computer. Hopefully more people will take to preserving this era so elegantly.

[ Link ]

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November 02, 2005

Burton Audex Jacket

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This jacket from burton and motorola uses bluetooth to give easy access to your cellphone and iPod.

Bluetooth wireless technology in the jacket allows you to link up to your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone and cruise and converse with ease. Use the control panel on the left sleeve to take or make calls and switch songs on your iPod without removing them from your pockets. There's even a mini caller ID screen. A removable control panel, detachable hood speakers and microphone complete this super tech getup and make it easy to clean your jacket.

Personally, I'd like to see Apple develop one of these since their trademark controls are far superior to anything else I've seen, and I think they probably could design some kick ass jackets as well.

[ Link via del ]

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October 31, 2005

Wearable Computing Market

You probably knew that the market for wearable computing is growing, but here's some real research to back it up.

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The global market for wearable computing and communications systems is expected to reach $270 million by 2007, according to a recent study published by VDC. Sales in this relatively small market are expected to grow more than 25 percent annually, based largely on the sales of customized solutions to two core market segments: warehousing and transportation. Smart fabrics and see-through wearable displays are on the horizon. Wearable systems spending is highly concentrated in warehouse and transportation/distribution market segments. Wearable devices allow users to keep their hands free for other activities during operation, which creates a compelling ROI in picking and placing, inventory tracking, and cross-docking applications that are core to these markets.

[ Link via Google News ]

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October 26, 2005

Geospatial Vibrating Belt

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This geospatial vibrating belt called FeelSpace seems pretty interesting, and has a lot of potential to help aid the blind potentially. It currently is designed to "point" to north all the time, but with a bit of sonar, I'm sure it would be a lot better.

This belt is equipped with a set of vibrators controlled by an electronic compass: the element pointing north is always slightly vibrating. That way, the person wearing the belt gets permanent input about his heading relative to the earth's magnetic field.

[ Link via del ]

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October 25, 2005

Wearable Barcode Scanner

Socket Communications announced today that they are entering wearable computing with a wearable barcode scanner that goes on your index finger and uses bluetooth. One can only assume that a device like this will need another unit on a person to recieve the data like a bluetooth enabled PDA or full fledged wearable computer.

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"Socket is committed to delivering products to help companies improve the productivity and profitability of their operations," said Peter Phillips, vice president of marketing at Socket Communications. "Socket continues to expand our family of data collection and connectivity products in response to customer demands. This lightweight and extremely durable new offering will enable customers to collect bar coded data hands free without being tied to a mobile or desktop computer."

I can certainly see the potential of this wearable barcode scanner for business use, such as clerks in supermarkets, or for doing warehouse inventory. Limited production of this product will be done in the last quarter of this year, and full production will begin beginning next year.

[ Link ]

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October 24, 2005

Digital Picture Key Chain

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Tao has released a Digital Picture Key Chain, which is designed for those who have short lasting loved ones, or ever changing significant loved ones. Even better, it can hold 56 images, which can be used for those who have multiple significant others, and wish to seem devoted to each.

Personally, as much as I like high tech, I'd only really like this product if it was animated or did something other than show static photos.

Common, innovate people!

[ Link via del ]

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October 22, 2005

Wearables For Health

Businessweek.com did a report on health monitors recently, which many would like to be a ubiquitous part of their lives. These devices are becoming more and more portable, from arm bands, to fabric embedded electronics.

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Fabric-embedded electronics are no longer science fiction and the health industry in particular seem keen to develop its potential, perhaps because 'gear' is already an integral part of it.

A product that now is taking off is a "stress band", which is worn on the arm and collects data on the wearer's physical state. Until recently, the band was a research tool used to measure the stress in drivers but now, the Fitness Group Apex are promoting the band for consumers as a weight-loss monitoring tool.

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Similarly, a shirt developed some years ago by VivoMetrics - which collects and analyzes its wearer's respiration flow, heart rate, and other key metrics - is already used in top medical schools and drug companies. The garment, which collects and analyzes its wearer's respiration flow, heart rate, and other key metrics, can allow researchers to see in real time whether a new treatment is working.

This article also gets into the real guts of smart fabrics with this paragraph about developments over the last two years:

DuPont created new fibers called Aracon, made of Kevlar, that are superstrong, can conduct electricity, and can be woven into ordinary-looking clothes. And chipmaker Infineon developed chip packaging allowing wearable computers to be washed, even in the heavy-duty cycle.

Now that's some tech I'd like to get into!

[ Link via Guerrilla-Innovation ]

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Smart Fabric Talk in Quebec

The reality of smart fabrics and nanotechnology as a part of electronic clothing and wearable computing will be discussed by assistant professor, Joanna Berzowska at Concordia University in
Montreal, Québec on November 25th. She received her Masters of Science from MIT for her work titled Computational Expressionism. She also built a color changing fabric called "electronic plaid".

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In this talk, I will outline the field of wearable technology: research directions, commercial applications and artistic practice. I will also discuss my research in one particular area of this large space: visually animated textiles that enable a SOFT reactive addressable display. I will show E-Ink prototypes, "Electronic Plaid" prototypes developed at International Fashion Machines and several simple experiments in "soft electronics" for wearables. Conductive yarns and fabrics, thermochromic inks and flexible sensors allow the construction of soft electronic garments. The goal is to achieve the seamless integration of technology into the tradition of textile and fashion design.

[ Link via del ]

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October 20, 2005

Uber Badge: Wearable Badge for Social Interactions

The Media Lab at MIT is improving on previous wearable badges with the UbER-Badge, which uses infrared and RF to create connections between people and systems. Some of their aims are to do viral message passing like "Memes don't exist, tell your friends", location tracking by displaying on nehibor's badges the last time they saw that person, social networking, storing contacts for later retrieval, and more.

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The Ubiquitous Experimental Research Badge (UbER-Badge) is a powerful platform for developing new applications in person-person and person-event interaction. This design takes a huge stride beyond the Media Lab’s previously successful badges (e.g., the Meme Tag (1998) and Thinking Tags (1997)). It is highly evolved in both its technological power and its aesthetics.

This Badge is a general computing platform for experimentation with distributed systems and the analysis and enhancment of group social interaction. Although The Badge will be used in crowds of circa 200 people during Media Lab events, it is designed to be open and expandable for future research use, able to encompass essentially any crowd size and a host of possible applications.

All their software is open source, and looks pretty neat. I saw some of MIT's earlier badge/wearable computing work at ACM1, and it was pretty cool. Not very usable by a mass market, but still very promising.

[ Link via del ]

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October 19, 2005

Wearable Vehicles?

Toyota car designer Hideo Miwa, who recently unveilled the i-swing concept car, which looks like a big chair on wheels, says that he sees a future in wearable vehicles, and I assume he's not talking about rocket powered roller-skates.

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It can travel on three or two wheels, and its body is made of polyurethane and covered in fabric — to soften the impact if it bumps into people, Toyota says.

...

The i-swing — a “concept car” with no plans for commercial sales — is an upgrade of earlier concept cars designed to help with what Toyota calls “personal mobility,” meant to blend in with pedestrians on the streets.

That’s why the automaker chose soft material for the i-swing’s body, and the ultimate goal would be to make a wearable vehicle, Miwa said.

I would love to hear more about his vision. Obviously cars are heavy, but also offer protection on the road when going high speeds. What does this designer have in mind?

[ Link ]

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October 18, 2005

Wearable WiFi Server

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This project is a wearable computer with a WiFi node that attempts to provide services specific to that one node instead of becomming a bridge to the internet at large.

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The WiFi.Bedouin consists of a small backpack containing an adapted 802.11b access point, RF amplifier, custom power supply and a PowerBook G4 running custom software, MovableType Blog software, a custom chat application, Apache 2.0, the Tomcat Java Servlet Container, and WiJacker - a custom built application that translates arbitrary named URLs to local services. A PocketPC PDA - the iPAQ 2200 - is mounted to the front of the WiFi.Bedouin pack, and is configured with its own 802.11 card. The PDA is used as a visual display for a custom GPS mapping application (mStory), for node WiFi activity, and for simple configuration.

The services it's aiming to deploy to the people around it are a Web Server, Chat Server, Shared Blog, and Streaming iTunes Music. In addition he indends to hijack any requests to any non-local websites to his own.

[ Link via del ]

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Wearable Controller for the iPod

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Well, you've probably heard about jackets with embedded controls for MP3 players, but this controller from Eleksen seems a lot more practical in my opinion because it's not tied down to any piece of clothing.

It's bluetooth equipped, and has a fabric controls, as well as a microphone, and as an added bonus, you can answer phone calls with it if you have a bluetooth equipped phone.

[ Link via del ]

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October 15, 2005

Liteye in Iraq

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Found this picture of an Liteye 450 on a soldier in Iraq. I really wish I could find more pictures of civilans though, but wearable computing aint cheap.

[ Link ]

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October 04, 2005

Chick Magnet

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Well at least they have a sense of humor...

The wearable system is called the Tinmith Endeavour backpack, more affectionately called "the chick magnet" by the research team.

Dr Thomas concedes much work needs to be done to reduce the size and improve the usability of the unit.

[ Link ]

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September 29, 2005

Power Conversion Fabric

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Two companies are joining up to build "Power Conversion Fabric", textitles that can generate power like solar cells.

Konarka Technologies, Inc., an innovator in developing and commercializing Power Plastic‘ that converts light to energy, and Textronics, Inc., a pioneer in the field of electronic textiles, today announced a joint development program to create prototype garments and fashion accessories with portable, wearable power-generation capabilities. The technology will utilize Konarka’s light-activated Power Plastic‘ and Textronics’ electronic textile systems to provide renewable, wearable energy sources for personal electronic devices.

[ Link to press release. Found via article posted to the wear-hard mailing list ]

Posted by nym at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2005

Wearable Computers for Disaster Relief

The University of South Australia are developing wearable computers with augemented vision for disaster relief, like that of the recent hurricanes in Louisiana and Florida.

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Flooding in New Orleans

"If particular experts aren’t available in the disaster area, they can direct field staff from the control center. For example, suppose a chemical plant is required to be shut down, an expert in the control center can view the situation via the field operative’s wearable technology, and give directions to the field staff on how to close the plant, even circling which lever to operate in the field operative’s view through the goggles," Thomas said.

The project consists of three components: the indoor visualization control room, the outdoor wearable AR system, and collaboration between the indoor and outdoor systems.

They claim that there is nothing else on the market that is comparable, and the only similar projects are the University of Columbia's "MARS" and the US Naval Research Lab's "BARS". Since I can't properly evaluate their work, I really don't understand why they believe their product is so radically different. In any case, they will be demoing it at SEARCC 2005, which is going on today, tomorrow, and Friday in Sydney, Australia.

[ Link ]

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September 15, 2005

Xbernaut About to Become Xyber-Not

Xybernaut looks like it's about to become no more. Sad news for some readers I expect. Hopefully a larger company like Apple will eventually start catering to this market.

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Xybernaut Corporation (Pink Sheet: XYBR.PK) announced that Company management met this week with and outlined several options to the newly formed Equity Committee in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The options generally involve plans for the reorganization of the Company and/or the orderly marketing of its intellectual properties and other assets. It is the overarching objective of both the Company and the Equity Committee to provide as much value as possible to the Company's shareholders. Together, the Company and the Equity Committee intend to chart a course in furtherance of their shared goals. There can be no assurance, however, that any of these options or the Company's restructuring efforts will be successful.

Brian wrote on the wear-hard mailing list:

Honestly I think their problems started when they couldn't get the price down nor the marketing to make wearables and began trying to compete in the tablet arena instead.

If they had stuck with making a real, feasable (affordable, usable) wearable system they could have cornered the (tiny) market and survived.

THEN the management problems came up.

Things certainly look tough, but maybe it's time for Xybernaut to pass the tourch to some other, more innovative company.

[ Link via the wear-hard mailing list ]

Posted by nym at 03:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 08, 2004

Consumer Wearable Computing Shoes

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'VectraSense Technologies, an MIT spin-off company, has developed a computerized shoe product Verb for Shoe that provides computerized shoe adjustments according to your movements...

The cost of the basic shoe is $499.99, and fully loaded with all the options, the cost would be $1000.'

Their site makes it seem like a joke, using excessive flash, but MIT has been known for their 'power-full shoes' and 'business card sharing shoes', so going to market with such a device does sound plausable.

["Verb for Shoe" via Near Near Future]

Posted by nym at 11:23 PM | TrackBack

December 05, 2004

Wearable Computer Defined

What is a wearable computer?

'A wearable computer is a computer that is subsumed into the personal space of the user, controlled by the user, and has both operational and interactional constancy, i.e. is always on and always accessible. Most notably, it is a device that is always with the user, and into which the user can always enter commands and execute a set of such entered commands, and in which the user can do so while walking around or doing other activities. The most salient aspect of computers, in general, (whether wearable or not) is their {\em reconfigurability} and their {\em generality}, e.g. that their function can be made to vary widely, depending on the instructions provided for program execution. With the wearable computer (WearComp), this is no exception, e.g. the wearable computer is more than just a wristwatch or regular eyeglasses: it has the full functionality of a computer system but in addition to being a fully featured computer, it is also inextricably intertwined with the wearer. This is what sets the wearable computer apart from other wearable devices such as wristwatches, regular eyeglasses, wearable radios, etc.. Unlike these other wearable devices that are not programmable (reconfigurable), the wearable computer is as reconfigurable as the familiar desktop or mainframe computer. Wearable computing will now be formally defined in terms of its three basic modes of operation and its six fundamental attributes.' [Steve Mann]

[From Definition of "Wearable Computer". Picture of Mann-Cyborg and Daughter.]

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