Issue No. 02 - February (1997 vol. 30)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/2.566147
<p>Miniaturization of components has enabled systems that are wearable and nearly invisible, so that individuals can move about and interact freely, supported by their personal information domain. </p> <p>Can you imagine hauling around a large, light-tight wooden trunk containing a co-worker or an assistant whom you take out only for occasional, brief interaction. For each session, you would have to open the box, wake up (boot) the assistant, and afterward seal him back in the box. Human dynamics aside, wouldn't that person seem like more of a burden than a help? In some ways, today's multimedia portables are just as burdensome. </p> <p>Let's imagine a new approach to computing in which the apparatus is always ready for use because it is worn like clothing. The computer screen, which also serves as a viewfinder, is visible at all times and performs multimodal computing (text and images). </p> <p>With the screen moved off the lap and up to the eyes, you can simultaneously talk to someone and take notes without breaking eye contact. Miniaturized into an otherwise normal pair of eyeglasses, such an apparatus is unobtrusive and useful in business meetings and social situations. </p> <p>Clothing is with us nearly all the time and thus seems like the natural way to carry our computing devices. Once personal imaging is incorporated into our wardrobe and used consistently, our computer system will share our first-person perspective and will begin to take on the role of an independent processor, much like a second brain-or a portable assistant that is no longer carted about in a box. As it "sees'' the world from our perspective, the system will learn from us, even when we are not consciously using it. </p> <p>Such computer assistance is not as far in the future as it might seem. Researchers were experimenting in related areas well before the late seventies, when I first became interested in wearable computing devices. Much of our progress is due to the computer industry's huge strides in miniaturization. My current wearable prototype,1 equipped with head-mounted display, cameras, and wireless communications, enables computer-assisted forms of interaction in ordinary situations-for example, while walking, shopping, or meeting people-and it is hardly noticeable. </p>
S. Mann, "Wearable Computing: A First Step Toward Personal Imaging," in Computer, vol. 30, no. , pp. 25-32, 1997.