WEARABLE COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS

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WEARABLE COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS











Future of Computer Networking:

Wearable Computers and the Network

Dainis Krakops

LTEC 4550.020

December 5
, 2011










WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


2

Wearable Computers and the Network

Computers unquestionably are

one of
the greatest
inventions

of the 20
th

century.

They
have penetrated in v
irtually every area of society.
They have
aided people
throughout the history and have
become essential tool in th
e progress of humanity.
Life
without computers is inconceivable.
Today, computers
are everywhere; they have gotten
not
only
cheap
er and more powerful but
they have
also
gotten smaller.

The minds of
designers, innovators, and aficionados never stop to amaze us with bringing new
technologies to the computer world.

They have taken computing to the next level by
integrating
computers directly into our clothing and changing the way we interact with
them.

The concept of weara
ble computing was first used in the 1970s and early 1980s
.
Many consider Steve Mann
as
the
father of
wearable computing; he strongly believed
that “humans
should not contort to computers, but that computers should contort to
humans” (
Wearable Computing
).

With computers continually
becoming smaller

in
volume from mainframes to desktops to laptops to smart phones,
we are able to carry
around complex computati
onal devices, increasing technological capabilities into our
everyday lives.


As technology keeps evolving, computers and other devices are
becoming easier to

integrate into our clothing, even to the extent

that they are virtually
invisible.

The concept o
f wearable computer does not
seem to be
far
-
fetched anymore.
But what is the future for this technology?

To answer this question,
it is important to
understand

what wearable computer is, how it works,
and
what are its possible
applications
.

WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


3

Wearable
computer
s

could be defined as electronic devices that are worn by
individual under, with, or on top of clothing.

According to Steve Mann, the pioneer
in
wearable computing effort:

A wearable computer is a computer that is subsumed into the personal space
of
the user, controlled by the user, and has both operational and interactional
constancy, i.e. is always on and always accessible. Most notably, it is a device
that is always with the user, and into which the user can always enter commands
and execute a s
et of such entered commands, and in which the user can do so
while walking around or doing other activities

(Mann)
.

Basically, wearable computer can be any electronic device that is
worn by
and interacts
with the user

based on the context of the situation
, “enabling hands
-
free operation and
greater freedom of movement in applications where the use of traditional computers is
impractical” (
Modotti & Treadway
).


In this case, computer

no longer sit
s

on our desks,
but
is

incorporated in our clothing or even b
odies.

It goes

everywhere where the user

goes
; with wearable computers we no longer need to go to computer, it is there when we
need it.

Defining wearable computer is a delicate task, for it does not include everything
we carry around.

Wearable

computer has

specific characteristics that set
it

apart from
other electronic devices.

First
, it needs to have an “always on” capability and be ready to
interact with the user at any time.

Then, wearable computer should be designed to
augment the intell
ect
be
cause with wearable computing the user is assumed to do
something else at the same time
; computing itself is not the primary task here
(Wearable
WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


4

Computing
-

Cyborg Anthropology)
.

Wearable computer is like a continuation of its
user, not an external
device.

The concept of wearable computer might seem confusing without understanding
how it works.

Wearable computer is basically a scaled
-
down computer with the same
essential components interconnected which user carries around, offering different genera
l
or specific functions and access to the information via Bluetooth, cell, or Wi
-
Fi
connections.


In addition to being constantly on, mobile, and always available, wearable
computers are small, lightweight, often rugged, unobtrusive, convenient, and do not

interfere with the user’s normal activities.

So, the wearable computers have not only the
full functionality of computer but are also inextricably intertwined with the wearer.
Wearable computer will typically have a system board, memory, hard drive for s
torage,
display, and battery all housed in a device or placed at different parts of the body in
accordance with user convenience.

Information and commands can be voice driven,
sensed from gestures or body motions, or entered from keyboard or toouchscreen
display.

While wearable devices can perform computations without a connection, wireless
communication is perhaps the most important consideration today to make a
wearable device useful.

Each wearable computer must be part of a system that
connects to a b
uilding, server, an automobile, or e
ven to a Cloud service provider

(
Modotti & Treadway
).

Network connection is an important requirement for wearable computers. Their
small size and portability only amplifies the need to connect to external information
s
ources for transferring collected data or accessing the information web.

Whether on
-
site, in transit, or at home, wearable computers can provide network access without
WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


5

interrupting the user’s work over different wireless connections.

There are two types
of
networks for wearable computing that can be classified as off
-
body or on
-
body networks.

Off
-
body networks are used for connecting wearable computer to other external
systems.

Depending on the application, wearable computers with off
-
body networks can
use Wi
-
Fi technology for WLAN networks and Cellular technology for WWAN
networks and military communication tactical radios.

WWAN is usually used to link
wearable computers to company headquarters, databases, or Internet over a cellular
networks.

WWAN co
uld also be used in various defense applications.

WLAN networks
are used to link wearable computers to the building IT infrastructure in a client
-
server
architecture

(
Modotti & Treadway
)
.


On
-
body networks are used to interconnect computer components, peripherals,
sensors, and other devices that are carried by the user and comprise single wearable
computer system.

Bluetooth technology is especially important to wearable computing
and is us
ed for WPANs; it is usually used to connect to a device that is just a few yards
away from the user.

One such example is a Bluetooth barcode scanner.


Other simpler
and less expensive technology used for on
-
body networks is Zigbee technology based on
IEEE

802 standard for Body Area Network
(
Modotti & Treadway
)
.

BANs are highly
localized wireless networks where a network of sensors placed on the human body or
implanted in it are connected via Zigbee, allowing connectivity to external networks.

It
can be u
sed “to measure user biometric data (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.).

A BAN
connection can be very useful to monitor a patient in the healthcare industry or a soldier
under stress in a military environment” (
Modotti & Treadway
).

WEARABLE
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6


The advent of
wearable

computers

marks a potential revolution, offering
tremendous and widespread possibilities in the computing world.

I
t
is
quickly becoming
a

growing
trend

within all industries of business
.
O
ver the past ten years there have been
many successful implementations of wearable computing technology in various
areas
including, but not limited to,
medicine, manufacturing, military, training, and recreation.
“Today's wearable computers have the abilit
y to enhance the lives of the disabled,
improve job performance, increase safety, monitor health, and provide real
-
time data to
the user” (Evolution of the Wearable Computer).

It is especially useful to those whose
occupation requires mobility, constant a
ccess to information
, and taking

notes
.


Among the variety of industries that have embraced this technology, m
edical
application of wearable computers is one of the mos
t interesting and important ones
.
Health
-
related wearable computers are
used in a
variety of ways to improve patients’
healthcare. They can be

used for monitoring patients’ vital signs v
ia wireless connection
to PC,
laptop
,

or even

t
he server where aggregated data can be stored for evaluation.
Wearable computers can also be used in rem
ote patient monitoring

to keep tabs on the
patient’s

medical condition
. Some of the wearables are small computer
-
like devices that
patients wear and others are garments or so called “healthwear” that monitor breathing,
heart rate, and body temperature.

Mu
ltifunctional wearable body monitor can closely
follow the entire lifestyle, including calories burned, caloric intake, activities levels and
sleep states.

Most of the wearable computers are equipped with a screen and wireless
connection
,

allowing
patient
s to

contact medical center for advice, press an emergency
button

in case of
urgent situation that automatically sends information to paramedics with
patient’s location and status.

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7


There are many wearable computer projects being developed that are not ye
t
commercial products and still in prototype phase for people who are disadvantaged.
Some of the most notable
are Tacit

and Key Glove.

Tacit is a “Sonar for the Blind”
being developed in Grathio Lab, which “
is wrist mounted and senses objects from about
1

inch (2 cm) to 10 feet (3.5m)
.

It has generally fast response time (fractions of a
second) to quickly

navigate

complex

environments.

It’s designed to help a
vision

impaired

person to

navigate

complex

environments” (
Meet The Tacit Project.

It’s
Sonar F
or The Blind
).

Another technology effort is Key Glove.

It is not only interactive
new way to interact with technology that “
provides unprecedented flexibility and
convenience for gaming, design, art, music, data entry, device control, 3D object
manipulation, and even inexpensive telepresence ” but “is also perfect for handicapped or
disabled users, or those who are prone to or suffer from RSI
-
related injuries” (
Keyglove
).


Military
was

one of the primary fields to use wearable computing.

Also, w
earable
computers used in the military are

among the most advanced
.

Soldiers use wearable
computers such as wrist
-
worn PCs and full armor computers to monitor themselves and
the field around as well as provide needed information to ground commanders for l
eading
a successful fight.


“Information can include soldiers' position, their vital signs and heart
rate, and information about how much ammunition and equipment they have.
Commanders can even connect to the soldiers' camera system to see what each soldie
r is
seeing, and can radio messages to the soldiers” (What Is a Wearable Computer?).
Prevalence of the wireless technology wearable has allowed military to take advantage of
the wearable computing, making it an important part of military life today.

Wear
able
computing technology
allows for networked force with shared situational responsiveness
WEARABLE
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8

thus dramatically increasing military mission effectiveness; it “provides soldiers with the
computing power needed for combat, thereby increasing the success of net
-
centric
warfare” (
Modotti & Treadway
).


One of the most recently released wearable computers for military applications is
the Modular Tactical System (MTS) system.

It is a
n

ultra
-
rugged wearable PC and
communications kit

worn as a vest

where “[
c]omponents are split
-
up and integrated into
different parts of the soldier's uniform and equipment so that mobility isn't compromised,
and it's designed to make the transition from computer operation to direct combat
engagement in seconds” (
Team
).


The MT
S is also adaptable to a range of applications
such as targeting, combat medics, explosive ordnance disposal, military intelligence, and
company command.


Wearable computers have also been
widely and enthusiastically
embraced by
various industries for its

practical application in situations where the use of traditional
computer would be imp
ractical.
They

allow
the user

to access
some distant

information
almost immediately

while
being
actively engaged in their physical environment

performing tasks without
distraction
.


As a result, employees

can solve many problems
on the spot and save time
, increasing productivity, comfort,

and safety at work
.

There are
many possible applications of wearable computing in different industry sectors
.

Mechanics can wear
small clip
-
on on their cap that allows them to do their job
while simultaneously viewing parts assembly

manuals, catalogs, parts lists, drawings,
supplier information, work forms,

o
r ordering new parts.

Wireless wearable computers
allow aircraft mechanics

instantly access virtually any information they need, even from
the cramped crevices of aircraft.

"They have immediate access to work cards, checklists,
WEARABLE
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9

illustrated parts breakdowns, wiring diagrams, and trouble
-
shooting procedures.

They
can also access

existing or previous write
-
ups or problems on the aircraft.

Mechanics can
also send and receive e
-
mails, order spare parts, and search the web” (
Air Force
Mechanics Don Wearable Computers
).

Wearable computers for warehouse applications allow for “hands
free” data
collection; they can be mounted on wrist or waist and usually are washable for improved
hygiene.

Most of the warehouse wearables are equipped with advanced real
-
time hands
-
free mobile computing technology.

Motorola produces series of lightweig
ht

and

rugged
wearable computers that are perfect for warehouse workers outfitted with advanced

d
ata
capture and voice technologies to allow

the users to
keep
their
hands and eyes on the task
at hand
.

With advancements in computer
technology researchers h
ave bee
n
focusing

on
more
special
ized

purpose

wearable computers.

Despite

of

more than three decades
long
history
, general
-
purpose wearable computers have been slow to take off

in the consumer
market
.

There have been
several

interesting projects
that have
created various wearable
computers

available to public,
providing

their users with capabilities to help them with
their work or specific job tasks.


Wearable computer
s are no longer science fiction;
today,
it is within reach
of

any
electronics
en
thusias
t.

New "electronic textiles" with electric circuits woven into them has the potential
for many new possibilities as it provides a very intimate form of interaction with the
wearer.

Smart clothing
,

as it is sometimes called
,

exists within
the
users personal space
and can
provide many functions that enhance one’s lifestyle.


Personal accessories such
as handbags may be programmed to perform myriad functions, such as alerting the owner
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10

when the wallet is not inside the bag. Headbands or armbands

provide feedback on
calories burned, assisting a dieter with adjusting food consumption and exercise to
achieve desired results
” (Kilpatrick)
.

Andy
’s Wearable Computing Notebook
website
features newest developments in wearable computing.

MOTOACTV music
fitness
device; OmniTouch, a wearable projection system; a wearable band called Up

infused
with sensors
that connects

to Smartphone for tracking eating, sleeping, and activity
patterns are just few of the newest
wearable
gadgets for consumer market (What i
s
Wearable

Computer?).

With computers becoming smaller and more powerful, wearable computers are
becoming more commonplace

and more useful
in many different applications.
There has
been tremendous advancement in

computer

technology
and it seems that
prac
tical
application for
wearable computers

in the future
could be limitless.


Because of
the
mobility of the
modern

individual,
wearable computers seems to fit extremely
well in the
contem
porary,

fast
-
paced
world

of technology, innovations, and business. Wearable
computers offer high mobility, flexibility, convenience, efficiency, and enhanced
communications.

However, in reality there are still many limitations that
need

to be overcome in
order for wearable comp
uting to
develop into established and widely accepted
technology.

Some of the limitations that needs to be worked out relates to factors
such as
battery life, processor power, display brightness, and network coverage.

Also
,

concerns
related to network co
nnectivity need to be addressed since wearable computers inherit all
of the attributes and cons
traints of any wireless network s
uch as bandwidth limitation,
security and privacy issues, seamless communication, and ubiquitous access.

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11

Greatest advantage that wearable computer offer to the user are
hands
-
free
computer access, mobility, and a constant network connection.


For consumers to be
interested in wearable computers they need to be lightweight, powerful, affordable, and
have conne
ctivity to the Internet.

However, there are devices that seem to be able to do
much of what wearable
computers can accomplish.

Smart
phones

do not fit in the
wearable computer definition, and

could be considered the greatest competition for
wearables with

its

many similar attributes.

Smart
phones are lightweight, provide access
to Internet, can have many applications that assist with different tasks, are mobile, and
relatively powerful.

Despite all this
, smartphones will not be able
to replace wearable
co
mputers.
The problem is that devices such as

smartphones, laptops,
tablets or other
mobile devices have to be held in order to use them, which is distracting and at times
inconvenient.

The difference is that wearable computers are always on, provides han
ds
-
free access to the network, and
are

inextricably intertwined with the wearer; it is an
extension of the user, for it allows to access information while leaving both of the user
hands free to perform other tasks.

Wearable computer is not about the size;

it is about
augmentation of the user
,

and “only when it becomes a natural extension of ourselves
will the technology really take off” (Daw).

Wearable computers have bright future, for they will enhance

the quality of life of
the user
s

at work place and
other

parts of daily life
, making day
-
to
-
day life less
complicated
.


With new developments in smart clothing, designers seek to blend
wearable computers with the user’s clothing and lifestyle
.

Therefore, it is possible that
quite soon

wearables
might beco
me

the fashion of tomorrow
,

becoming even less visible
and

more powerful and cost effective.

Two of the initiative
s

that indicate increasing
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COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


12

interest in wearable computers are development of android
-
based wearable computing
platform and Apple’s hiring of
Richard DeVaul,
a veteran of the wearable computing
field to develop products for the fitness and “wellness” markets.


In conclusion,
there is
no
doubt that
wearable computer

are here to stay and will
revolutionize the way we interact with computers.

There
have

been a lot of fascinating
projects in this field
that

show promise in a very large variety of applications.

Wearable
computers are currently being used in healthcare, military, manufacturing, personal use,
and many oth
er areas.

Wearable comput
er
are worn by user and
differs from other
mobile devices with such attributes as
being
always on and
not interfering

with a user's
normal activities but help
ing

to simplify them.

While it is still emerging technology,
it is
quickly becoming
a growing
tre
nd

within all industries of business.

Nevertheless,
the
future of wearable computers depends on improvements, adaptability, and the acceptance
by the mass market.

I
t is up to
the
consumer to decide how far wearable

computer
industry will evolve.



WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


13

References

Air Force Mechanics Don Wearable Computers. (n.d.).
Data Conversion Laboratory
-

Data Conversion Services & Expertise
. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from
http://www.dclab.com/airforcewearables.ASP

Daw, D. (2011, August 4). Computers That You Can W
ear .
Reviews and News on Tech
Products, Software and Downloads | PCWorld
. Retrieved December 4, 2011,
from
http://www.pcworld.com/article/237238/computers_that_you_can_wear.html

Evolution of the Wearable Computer. (n.d.).
BarcodesInc
-

Barcode Printer, Ba
rcode
Scanner, Point of Sale, Mobile Computing and RFID Experts
. Retrieved
November 30, 2011, from http://www.barcodesinc.com/articles/wearable
-
computer.htm

Keyglove. (n.d.).
Keyglove
. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.keyglove.net/

Kilpatrick, J
. (2011, March 15). Types of Wearable Computers Worn on the Body .
eHow
| How to Videos, Articles & More
-

Discover the expert in you. | eHow.co.uk
.
Retrieved December 2, 2011, from http://www.ehow.co.uk/info_8066394_types
-
wearable
-
computers
-
worn
-
body.html

Mann, S. (1998, May 12). Definition of "Wearable Computer" .
www.wearcam.org
.
Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://wearcam.org/wearcompdef.html

Meet The Tacit Project. It’s Sonar For The Blind. . (n.d.).
Grathio Labs
.

Retrieved
December 1, 2011, from http://grathio.com/2011/08/meet
-
the
-
tacit
-
project
-
its
-
sonar
-
for
-
the
-
blind/

Modotti, T., & Treadway, H. (n.d.). Modern Wearable Computers – Form and Function
Still Reign .
RTC Magazine
. Retrieved December 2, 2011, from
WEARABLE
COMPUTERS AND THE NETWORKS


14

ht
tp://rtcmagazine.com/articles/view/101888

Modotti, T., & Treadway, H. (n.d.). RTC Magazine | Articles.
RTC Magazine
. Retrieved
November 30, 2011, from
http://www.rtcmagazine.com/articles/print_article/101888

Team, G. (2011, May 26). Military Tested, Ultra
Rugged Wearable computer System
Gets Commercial Release.
Gizmag | New and Emerging Technology News
.
Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.gizmag.com/black
-
diamond
-
mts
-
wearable
-
computer/18723/

Wearable Computing
-

Cyborg Anthropology. (n.d.).
Cyborg A
nthropology
. Retrieved
November 30, 2011, from http://cyborganthropology.com/Wearable_Computing

What Is a Wearable Computer?. (n.d.).
wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions
.
Retrieved December 1, 2011, from http://www.wisegeek.com/what
-
is
-
a
-
wearable
-
computer.htm

What is Wearbale Computer?. (n.d.).
Andy's Wearable Computing Notebook
. Retrieved
December 2, 2011, from redwoodhouse.com/wearable/