Getting Dressed in Technology – The Future

I am going to discuss my views about the new term “Wearable Computing” in this post.

Wearable Computing refers to embedding sensors and computation devices on the body in a seamless, unobtrusive, and invisible way. But the trend toward wearable computing is not as new as it seems. Raking something useful and making it more convenient is as old as time. This can be seen with the historical shift from pocket watches to wrist-watches. We’ re now seeing new tools and technologies being taken out of our pockets and put into seemingly more convenient places like our wrists, feet, and faces —- Think GOOGLE GLASS.

These trends might revolutionize the way we live, behave and interact. However, we know convenience and wow factor won’t be the only driver in the explosion of the wearable devices. Beyond the current commercial applications, extensive research is being done to push the limits of wearable computing. Shoes, watches, gloves, hats, and other common body-worn items could become a dynamic sensor network, providing vast quantities of information about the wearer and their surroundings.

Providing a comprehensive picture of recent trends in wearable computing seems infeasible. I would classify the uses of these wearables in three categories. They are Personal Behavior Monitoring, Health Care Applications and finally the Human-Computer Interaction.

Personal Behavior Monitoring: 

Sports are an everyday activity for millions of people. But not everybody has access to a trainer. Prompting Christina Strohrmann and Gerhard Troster (two great researchers from ETH Zurich) to introduce a wearable sensor system to monitor a runner’s performance in the field. They suggest methods that assess skill level, techniques, and fatigue from motion sensor data. For those that are less active, fitness trackers can be a motivator to get moving. The amazing product Fitbits is currently helping many teens by increasing their activities and stave off the dangerous obesity. An active body is ideal, but we mustn’t forget about the mental agility. Reading is a highly frequent activity that trains our mental fitness. Some researchers have proposed a novel method to recognize document types based on gaze tracking. Integrating such a system into glasses could improve awareness about our personal knowledge acquisition in the future.

Health Care Applications:

Wearable computing opens up a huge number of possibilities in healthcare. Current research experiences shift from acute care toward long-term monitoring with a focus on outpatient prevention and rehabilitation. Researchers Gabriele Spina and Oliver Amft have suggested a smartphone-based training system that successfully assesses the performance and execution quality of exercises in rehabilitation patients. The model offers personalized training and provides feedback to patients at home. The paper on the COPDTrainer is here

As part of patients’ recovery treatment, Rofl Adelsberger developed a wearable sensor system combing a pressure sensor sole and motion sensors to automatically assess posture stability. There are other researchers who have covered the concepts on physiological monitoring systems and monitoring applications using standard smartphone sensors as a part of an mHealth project.

Human-Computer Interaction:

In the age of smartphones, tablets, and public screens interaction with computers is a common occurrence. Almost everyone has experienced situations where the operation of tiny screens and keys can be challenging.  Recently two researchers have introduced a glove that could replace the key operation with air-writing. Rounding out the issue, is Viswam Nathan’s discussion on the challenges of creating a wearable EEG system, which can be used for a better brain-computer interface. This work could lead to touch-less input for many devices.

The future of wearable technology is much more than entertainment, convenience, and apps. The concepts that researchers re working on will definitely create a world of new opportunities.



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