There has been a great deal of buzz around wearable electronic solutions over the past year. The craze started with fitness accessories and has continued with mini computers like Google Glass.
The dream of wearable computers, however, is nothing new. The U.S. military has been developing solutions for the past 20 years, but one would need to lug around a backpack for most of these gadgets.
Now, the U.S. military is using iPhones. Because of advancements in technology, today's solutions are considerably different and closer to the devices depicted in science fiction movies. Advancements in semiconductor design and manufacturing technology have continued to increase performance while shrinking the size and power requirements of all semiconductor components, advanced display technology have enabled a rich user experience, and communications and server technology have created a connected world with endless possibilities.
So, why aren't wearable computers a reality today? If we can cram a computer into a handset or tablet, shouldn't we be able to reduce it down to the size of a watch or ear piece?
Unfortunately, we still face limitations in technology—none more than battery technology, which has been limited to incremental improvements in capacity at best. Even with semiconductor technology, cramming a processor, GPU, memory, I/O, and communications technology into a single chip is still no easy feat. New technologies like die stacking technology with through silicon vias (TSVs) should allow the industry to achieve this level of integration within the next three to five years.
The displays have also been rather bulky and power hogs, but new flexible display technology combined with pico projectors and wireless display interfaces will overcome not only limitations size and power, but also overcome the need for large displays. Overall, it would seem that the industry is on the right track to finally enable wearable computers.
However, these solutions must be computers, not electronic peripherals or gadgets, and offer all the functionality and performance that we expect out of other computing solutions like smartphones, tablets, and PCs with the added benefit of increased flexibility. And, they likely will have to be on par or even less expensive than the existing solutions to be attractive to the masses.
Although way out of the required price range at $1,500, Google Glass is still the closest solution today, but there are still a few key components missing, particularly the connectivity. This is the biggest drawback of all the wearable electronic solutions today, they have to be connected or tethered to other devices for network connectivity.
Sometimes I think today's advanced devices are contradictory:for the wearable reason,they must be small enough; but for higher experience, the screen must be large. For me, wearable computer will not be appealing to me, for I can not do work with a small-screen wearable computer. Work is also the reason for the existence of traditional PC.
I can see the day when, besides the military, law enforcement will take advantage of wearing computer glasses to instantaneously evaluate an incidence, check for criminal records, and triangulate with other officers wearing glassses-officers to nab suspects. It will create a safer world and also one that's all-intrusive one. Oops, can't type anymore; have a miniature heli hovering outside my window. Hope its miniature camera can't read my keyboard strokes. Don't want to become "person of interest". (:-
I am not sure whether the article get the concept of wearable computing right. Nobody wants to wear a fullblown CPU/GPU/RAM/SSD on to their body. And as Lavender pointed out you need to have reasonably sized display anyhow. In todays context wearable computing refers to miniature devices targeted at a specific niche like health monitoring(nike fuelband) or HCI devices(like google glass) . They are just data collection/recording devices.
thank you for laugh Nicolas. I think too many people are focusing on the size of the display, with pico projects and wireless display interfaces, there will be nothing stopping users from from interacting with larger displays. In fact, your display could be anywhere. You will not need to carry it with you, which is the point. Moving away from traditional form factors is a challenges for those of us (me included) that have grown with them, but the next generation will not have that challenge. In fact, they will think the concept of lugging a display around as ludicrous. Wearable computers are coming, whether we like them or not.
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