14 August 2007

Computing gets wearable more comfortably

WEARABLE Computing is transforming the way people interact, take care of their health, entertain themselves and do more. With miniaturisation of computers and omnipotent capabilities of phones of the modern era, it is possible to wear technology gadgets just like garments or accessories.

Such devices necessarily must not disturb human activity but act and interact with humans for functionality. This is the concept of wearable computing which aims to simplify interactions between humans and computers like in the case of mobile phones, laptops and PDAs. For a better understanding of this concept take the connection of computing devices within a networked office. Thet share and communicate with each other. In the same way, body network or personal area network (PAN) with several devices worn by the user network and communicate even remotely.

To monitor an aged patient at home, wearable computing makes it possible to measure the pulse rate through the wrist watch or bracelet and transmit the signal through her mobile phone to her clinic which continuously plots this data for monitoring. Through programming an abnormal variation in the pulse rate generates alarms at the clinic which enables the paramedics to reach the patient at the earliest for treatment. In the case of gaming head mounted units with microphones simulate visual screens in front of the eye with voice activated operations.

Imagine moving your arm to simulate playing a tennis stroke and the motion sensor pad recognises the motion and translates it into digital form required for a game scenario. This would make gaming more natural and interactive with more precision without keypads or joysticks. In computing, artificial intelligence attempts to emulate human intelligence and progress in this direction has been quite limited for practical applications. Wearable computing attempts to synergise human intelligence and computing power, making it more practical for real life applications.

Wearable computing has certain basic features: l These devices fit on to the human body and are non-obstructive to activity.l They are always on and do not require interactions to activate.l The computing part happens while the humans are active performing normally to augment the intellect or the senses.l Depending on the programming they can either jam outside signals or permit them to act as filters.l It is possible to maintain a higher level of security in computing as identification can be based on any biometric measure thus increasing privacy.

Devices are generally prosthetic so that the users adapt to its just like and extension of body and after some time they even forget that they are wearing it.l These devices are unrestrictive to the user and are connected cable-free so they can be mobile and do other things while using them.l The devices are attentive to changes in the environment, responsive to user’s controls and are also communicative with other devices in the system.The most fundamental issue in wearable computing is that the wearer is empowered through technology that is a personalised, customisable information space, owned, operated, and controlled by them. In the future many more sensors will be built with chips to make wearable computing more sophisticated and less intrusive to humans.

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