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Wearable Computing: Let's Get It On

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rick merritt
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Call to the wearable pioneers
rick merritt   6/28/2013 7:51:03 PM
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If you have been among the small group of people trying to pioneer wearable computing, I'd love to hear what you have learned. Join the conversation!

RichQ
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Where's the energy?
RichQ   6/29/2013 2:12:18 PM
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Funny, we were just talking about this over at Microcontroller Central in Duane Benson's blog Create Internet of People Devices.

Depending on how you define "computing," personal IoT devices may well be a source for many wearable computing products. Your wristwatch, for instance, could double as a heart monitor. Your shoes would track your physical activity and help advise you of how many calories you have burned.

One of the things that needs consideration in wearable computing is: what is the energy source? Energy harvesting shoes are one possibility. Another is clothing with solar collectors built in. Biothermal electric generators are still another possibility. All of these are currently in development.

rich.pell
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Re: Where's the energy?
rich.pell   6/29/2013 3:10:53 PM
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Wristwatch?  Didn't they go out with landline telephones?  :)

RichQ
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Re: Where's the energy?
RichQ   6/29/2013 3:20:28 PM
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I still use a landline. Cell reception is inadequate where I live. I use a wristwatch, too. Its easier to read than taking out my phone or tablet to see the time. And it it were to monitor my heart, it would be even more valuable to me, especially since the heart attack.

But, hey, perhaps it is old fashioned. So put the IoT device into a copper energy bracelet that helps balance your Chi. That will never go out of style.

rick merritt
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Re: Where's the energy?
rick merritt   7/1/2013 1:08:39 AM
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Energy harvesting shoes--I saw an MIT Media Lab demo of that 15 years ago. Anybody actually shipping anything useful? If so I want a URL, please.

RichQ
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Re: Where's the energy?
RichQ   7/1/2013 1:14:18 AM
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rick, I find lots of references to projects, but nothing on the market. Perhaps it's an issue of cost. But the energy harvesting shoe concept doesnt seem to have gotten any traction in the market yet.

rick merritt
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Re: Where's the energy?
rick merritt   7/1/2013 11:41:00 AM
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Energy harvesting shoes fail to get traction...that's a headline! Now I just need to go research to see if there's a story behind it or not.

 

If anyone has any contacts working in the area, let me know. I suspect if there's a problem it could be we don't have the capability of harvesting/using enough energy cost effectively yet...a worthy research topic.

Jayna Sheats
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Re: Where's the energy?
Jayna Sheats   7/1/2013 3:44:51 PM
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I believe part of the problem is in the efficiency of biomechanics (not only efficiency of piezoelectrics).  The SF Exploratorium had a nice demo showing that very vigorous pedaling of a stationary bike could - sort of - light up a 60W bulb.  In other words, maybe 10% efficiency (watts out/bioenergy in).  I also know that the MIT Media Lab demonstrated the shoe-based generator many years ago, but people wearing them found them tiresome. And of course the high efficiency materials are expensive.  Maybe a lot of incremental advances will overcome these hurdles.

rick merritt
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Re: Where's the energy?
rick merritt   7/2/2013 9:11:04 AM
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Great comment!

I guess the good news is energy harvesters will have the opportunity to get lots of exercise ;-)

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Where's the energy?
MeasurementBlues   7/1/2013 2:05:06 AM
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Rick, see my blog, Human Energy.

kfield
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Memory devices
kfield   6/29/2013 11:24:20 AM
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Thanks Rick for posting this. I was particularly intrigued by the discussion of wearables as memory devices--but one can't help but wonder if that is completely a good thing or not. Already I am over-reliant on my smartphone for phone numbers, email addresses, etc. and without access to that information, I simply do not even know my own mobile phone number. 

Frank Eory
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Re: Memory devices
Frank Eory   6/30/2013 12:04:10 PM
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I worry about that too. When access to all the information you could ever want, even recognizing the faces of people you've met before, is always available, what will that mean for people's motivation to commit things to memory?

mcgrathdylan
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Re: Memory devices
mcgrathdylan   6/30/2013 12:50:38 PM
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Seriously. Nobody remembers anyone's phone number any more. As humans have less and less motivation to commit things to memory, what will happen to our ability to do so and to our brains in general?

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Memory devices
Max The Magnificent   6/30/2013 5:59:43 PM
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@Dylan: Nobody remembers anyone's phone number any more.

To be honest, I don't even remember my own cell phone number -- anyone who needs it has already got it -- I have a note in the note app on the phone with the number written down if I need to give it to anyone :-)

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Memory devices
MeasurementBlues   6/30/2013 8:04:24 PM
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Dylan,

I can still remember phone numbers. Maybe its my age, but when I needed to remember a girl's phone number, I did.

CCarpenter0
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Training Orthotics
CCarpenter0   6/29/2013 7:41:15 PM
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I'm intrigued by the possibility of orthotic devices that would help a student learn to -- for example -- play the violin.  Would such things qualify as a "wearable computing" device?

It takes a good deal of plain old muscle conditioning to play a musical instrument (or any number of other skills), and I can imagine a device that would fit over the hands and "guide" them during practice sessions until the muscles of the hand were comfortable and conditioned to the various movements required. 

Meanwhile -- the time when implanted computing is practical will be with us shortly so we won't have to take it off to have a shower :-)

rick merritt
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Re: Training Orthotics
rick merritt   6/29/2013 9:30:39 PM
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Wow, you are really jumping into the far future. I can't even imagine how a computer would anticipate the next note and signal the fine motor movements to move to the right spot on an unfretted instrument.

 

It's a huge step just to make useful something like Project Glass which just aims to be a voice activated Google search agent.

 

 

CCarpenter0
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Re: Training Orthotics
CCarpenter0   6/30/2013 11:21:16 AM
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Maybe a better example would have been training the muscles of the hand for touch typing :-) .  In my imagination, this would be done with something like a pair of "gloves" that would gently pressure the fingers into reaching for the right keys until, after a month or so, they were comfortable with the motions involved.

 

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Training Orthotics
MeasurementBlues   6/30/2013 8:06:29 PM
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>I can't even imagine how a computer would anticipate the next note and signal the fine motor movements to move to the right spot on an unfretted instrument.

When that happens, it's time for a new arrangement of the song. I played an unfretted Fender bass once. It's not as hard as it looks.

Bert22306
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Glad to see ...
Bert22306   6/30/2013 6:33:18 PM
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.. that we are finally beyond the mindset that the smartphone is all there is and will ever be in the future of innovative EE design. I think the future of wearable specifically for telemedicine is the most exciting, in spite of any potential legal issues. It's already here, in the form of heart monitors you can buy at any drug store, blood glucose and cholesteral monitors, ECG smartphone accessories, and the like. More of the same should hardly come as a surprise.

As an aside, I wear a watch and keep my cell phone off most of the time. Doesn't everyone do this too? Oh, I guess I sould add, is it just me or is this new EE Times format suck-o?

Duane Benson
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I think it's closet than people realize
Duane Benson   6/30/2013 7:50:05 PM
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I doubt that it will be very many years before wearable computing is a major technology product category. To a certain extent, it's already here. Why is a phone not considered wearable? It's certainly a bigger form-factor than Google glass, but the only time I'm not "wearing" my smart phone is when either my clothes or me are in the wash. At night, it's maybe 18 inches from my head.

I don't walk around with a bluetooth headset always in my ear, but plenty of people do. Put a camera in it and you are just one step closer.

Nnanci
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Re: I think it's closet than people realize
Nnanci   7/1/2013 12:23:47 AM
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An even more wearable version is the smart watches. I am not sure how popular those may become or whether they are in mainstream sale but i am beginning to see them on ads. Google glass as well...wearable computing is very much here even though it will likely get better.

rick merritt
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Re: I think it's closet than people realize
rick merritt   7/1/2013 1:07:03 AM
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Let's not forget the Microsoft Spot watch. Nearly as successful as its "BoB" user interface.

Nailing a really useful snart watch won't be easy.

Brian at Impulse
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Wearable computers of the 90s
Brian at Impulse   7/1/2013 11:08:01 AM
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We worked at Virtual Vision in the 90's on a wearable computer. It was a project with Honeywell and Boeing to capture the manual for an airframe on a belt worn computer. The goggles were way klunkier than Google Glass. The solution was clever but was "looking for a problem". I.e. we had lots of clever ideas how folk would use wearable computers but at the end of the day the market decided it was not ready. Some of the same dialog comes up with google glass. I think it's cool and have seen a couple in San Francisco, but think it'll take a "killer application" to really drive it.

rick merritt
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Re: Wearable computers of the 90s
rick merritt   7/1/2013 11:43:19 AM
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Hi Brian,

Can you send me your contact via email to rick.merritt@ubm.com  I want to stay in touch with people who have some history here.

Wearable computers will be a big story theme for years to come. I think I actually interviewed someone from your former employer back in the day.

docdivakar
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Re: Wearable Computing: Let's Get It On
docdivakar   7/1/2013 2:29:18 PM
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One of the key attributes to success in wearable computing devices is user education. Absence or deficiency thereof could pose major headaches to both consumers and service providers.

The author already touched on marketing and policy issues but the debates on this as far as the general public is concerned hasn't even begun.

Wearable computing / devices are becoming inevitable from a practical and economical point of view, the latter especially in healthcare.

MP Divakar

Charles.Desassure
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Wait and See Stage
Charles.Desassure   7/2/2013 8:41:49 AM
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I believe that wearable computing devices will become popular in the future.  For right now, I personally don't believe that wearable computing devices is well designed to be comfortable enough to be wearing around all day.   Do you remember your first audio headset?  I do, and it did not fit well on my head and the audio sound was not the best.  But today, I have a wonderful headset that fits well on my head and the audio sound is beyond outstanding.  My point is that over time wearable computing devices will improve and if there is a demand for it, you can expect it to do well in sales like mobile devices are doing today.

EZCO
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Wearable Devices
EZCO   7/26/2013 2:25:41 PM
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Wearable Devices are coming for sure. In fact I predict in all industrial and medical fields.

The problems we will face will be more about teaching people how to use them on a daily basis.

Therefore the difficulities will be in training our customer service personnel to handle our phone calls and emails, etc.

Customer Service will become more paramount as we continually enhance the products with new technologies.

Joe Pamelia, CEO

EZ COURSES.ORG LLC

Prescott, AZ

ezcourses.org@gmail.com

http://www.ezcourses.org

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