Wearable computer

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Wearable computers are computers that are worn on the body. This type of wearable technology has been used in behavioral modeling, health monitoring systems, information technologies and media development. Wearable computers are especially useful for applications that require computational support while the user's hands, voice, eyes, arms or attention are actively engaged with the physical environment.

"Wearable computing" is an active topic of research, with areas of study including user interface design, augmented reality, pattern recognition, use of wearables for specific applications or disabilities, electronic textiles and fashion design. Many issues are common to the wearables, mobile computing, ambient intelligence and ubiquitous computing research communities, including power management and heat dissipation, software architectures, wireless and personal area networks.

One of the main features of a wearable computer is consistency. There is a constant interaction between the computer and user, i.e. there is no need to turn the device on or off. Another feature is the ability to multi-task. It is not necessary to stop what you are doing to use the device; it is augmented into all other actions. These devices can be incorporated by the user to act like a prosthetic. It can therefore be an extension of the user’s mind and/or body.

The International Symposium on Wearable Computers is the longest-running academic conference on the subject of wearable computers.

Contents

History

1960s

Depending on how broadly one defines both wearable and computer, the first wearable computer could be as early as the 16th century with the invention of the pocket watch. The first device that would fit the modern-day image of a wearable computer was constructed in 1961 by the mathematician Edward O. Thorp,[1] better known as the inventor of the theory of card-counting for blackjack, and Claude Shannon, who is best known as "the father of information theory." The system was a concealed cigarette-pack sized analog computer designed to predict roulette wheels. A data-taker would use microswitches hidden in his shoes to indicate the speed of the roulette wheel, and the computer would indicate an octant to bet on by sending musical tones via radio to a miniature speaker hidden in a collaborators ear canal. The system was successfully tested in Las Vegas in June 1961, but hardware issues with the speaker wires prevented them from using it beyond their test runs.[2] Their wearable was kept secret until it was first mentioned in Thorp's book Beat the Dealer (revised ed.) in 1966[2] and later published in detail in 1969.[3] The 1970s saw rise to similar roulette-prediction wearable computers using next-generation technology, in particular a group known as Eudaemonic Enterprises that used a CMOS 6502 microprocessor with 5K RAM to create a shoe-computer with inductive radio communications between a data-taker and better.[4][5]

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