wearable computing (was: PDA form factor)

Elias Sinderson elias@cse.ucsc.edu
Fri, 04 Jan 2002 09:09:49 -0800


Eugene Leitl wrote:

>Wondered what the next big thing after PDA and cellphone is going to be?=

>The wearable.
>
>The only thing still amazing me is that it hasn't happened several years=

>ago. People are just slow, I guess.
>
    While I'm not sure that wearable computing will be the *next* big=20
thing, it will certainly be *a* big thing. I'd wager that it will almost =

definately be adopted in military/industrial applications first (this is =

already happening), with the next big wave of adoption occuring in the=20
<20 year old demographic... It doesn't amaze me that wearable computing=20
hasn't already taken the world by storm, however, as the required=20
technologies haven't really been available. (Some have been but are too=20
expensive for mass adoption.) Some of the more interesting technologies=20
leading in this direction are starting to mature though, and becoming=20
more commercially viable.

    Microvision (hhtp://www.mvis.com) has been developing a head mounted =

display that superimposes images/text over a users normal field of=20
vision. Large potential markets include aerospace, medical, industrial=20
and, of course, military. A while back, just before the holidays,=20
Slashdot ran a piece on geek gifts, one of which was a minicomputer=20
about the size of a portable CD walkman with the following specs:
CPU Intel Socket 370 CPU, Pentium
Celeron (466MHz, 500MHz and higher)
Pentium !!! (500MHz and up)
System Chipset System Chipset
Hard Disk 2.5=A1=A8 x 9.5mm HDD x1 (up to 18GB)
RAM 144-pin (SDRAM x 1 slot, up to 256MB)=20
Video Memory 4MB shared memory

VGA resolution supported 1024 x 768 =A1V 16.7M colors
1280 x 1024 =A1V 16.7M colors
1600 x 1200 =A1V 256 colors
I/O ports 6-pin PS/2 Keyboard Port x 1=20
6-pin PS/2 Mouse Port x 1
124-pin Expansion Port x 1
Microphone Port x 1
Earphone Port x 1
USB Port x 2
External VGA Port x 1
TV Output (NTSC/PAL) 4-pin DIN S-Video Output Port x 1=20
Built-in Sound  16-bit Stereo (Sound Blaster / Adlib compatible), Full=20
Duplex 3-D Sound, AC 97 compatible
Pointing Device TouchPad with left/right click button and scrolling=20
up/down button=20
Physical Dimensions System gross weight around 460g,
150mm (L) x 106mm (W) x 32mm (H)=20
Power Adapter Auto-switching.
Input: 100V ~ 240V, 50 ~ 60Hz, 1.1A
Output: 15V DC, 3.0A; weighs 250g
Y Cable Connecting S-Video Port to convert S-Video signal to composite
and S-Video signal
Carry Case Carry Case 170g, camera case style

Docking Station

CD-ROM or DVD-ROM 5.25=A1=A8 24X (CD-ROM) or 8X (DVD-ROM) x 1
built-in ATAPI-IDE interface
Floppy Device 3.5=A1=A8 1.44MB x 1=20
I/O ports 9-pin Serial Port (16550A) x 1
25-pin Parallel Port (EPP/ECP) x 1
*USB Port x 2



So, as you all know, things get smaller, faster, cheaper by the day. It=20
will only be a short time before devices with this form factor are=20
powerful enough for voice recognition, and will have an always-on=20
wireless internet connection and enough storage space to kill a horse. I =

would expect that we'll begin to see pocket sized units such as this=20
with a wide variety of peripherals replacing, as Eugene correctly=20
pointed out, your walkman, digital (video) camera, PDA, cell phone, GPS, =

etc.


    Elias