Dressing For Work Has A Whole New Meaning

A wearable computer is a computer that is always with you, comfortable, easy to keep and use, and is as unobtrusive as clothing. The objective of a wearable computer is to merge data space with work space. While rare, these devices are actually in use today.

The most distinguishing feature of a wearable is it can be used while moving around. Hands-free use, chorded keyboards, dials, joysticks, speech input, heads-up display and voice output in addition to conveying information to its user even when not actively being used, such as e-mail notification, are some of the features. A wearable could also have sensors such as GPS, cameras, or microphones. Combined with mobile communication, it is possible to access information anywhere. It is even able to sense a user's position superimposing the information on the workspace. A wearable is always on, working, sensing, and acting.

Wearable computers deal in information, becoming tools much like a pencil or a reference book. Information can be automatically accumulated by the system as the user interacts thereby eliminating the costly and error-prone process of information acquisition.

These tools are used by surgeons focused on procedure who simultaneously consult text and diagrams, assembly line workers confined in tight and busy quarters with little room for even a laptop, maintenance and plant operations having huge manuals of information that varies over time. Rather than distribute manuals for each worker and running the risk of a procedure being performed on obsolete information, facilities usually maintain a centralized data base to which personnel make inquiries via their wearable computer.

October 2000

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