eWEEK - Microsoft made news recently when it was reported it has won a patent for glasses that can display a computer image before the user’s eyes, but so-called “wearable computers” have been in development for years.
They’re each taking slightly different approaches to the technology, but Microsoft, Google and Apple are among the latest technology companies developing what are called “wearable computers” that display digital images on eyeglass lenses.
The concept behind the glasses is to enable people to view data and images displayed on the special lenses and also look through the glasses to view the world around them.
The technology, for which each of the three tech companies has applied for their own patents, is not yet in production, but soon could be. If it comes to pass, computerized glasses could be the next big thing in personal computing, assuming that people find them useful and effective.
Microsoft became the latest entrant into the field as news came out in November that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved a patent for a device that, as the Los Angeles Times described it, “delivers information about live events to a person wearing a head-mounted display.” An illustration of the device in the application shows a view through the glasses of a baseball game while the display adds data like the names of the players at home plate, the pitcher’s mound and on base.
Engadget – by Sharif Sakr – An LED display, camera, microphone, speaker and accelerometer all packaged into a t-shirt and controlled via your smartphone?
That’s the concept behind TshirtOS, a wearable platform for “self-expression” that currently only exists as a prototype. It can show off tweets, play music videos, capture belly-height photos and send them off to Instagram, and pretty much do anything except play percussion. CuteCircuit, which came up with the idea in cahoots (inexplicably) with Ballantine’s whisky, says it’s about to conduct product tests and will mass produce the smart-shirts if enough folks register interest. There’s no Kickstarter page, definite specs or pricing for any of this, but based on CuteCircuit’s history and the video after the break we’re inclined to believe TshirtOS is more than just viral marketing stunt for the sake of a dram — click onwards and judge for yourself.
Mashable Tech - Until recently, the idea of holding a conversation with a computer seemed pure science fiction. If you asked a computer to “open the pod bay doors”—well, that was only in movies. [...]
“We’re at a transition point where voice and natural-language understanding are suddenly at the forefront,” says Vlad Sejnoha, chief technology officer of Nuance Communications, a company based in Burlington, Massachusetts, that dominates the market for speech recognition with its Dragon software and other products. “I think speech recognition is really going to upend the current [computer] interface.”
Progress has come about thanks in part to steady progress in the technologies needed to help machines understand human speech, including machine learning and statistical data-mining techniques. Sophisticated voice technology is already commonplace in call centers, where it lets users navigate through menus and helps identify irate customers who should be handed off to a real customer service rep. [...]
Jim Glass, a senior research scientist at MIT who has been working on speech interfaces since the 1980s, says today’s smart phones pack as much processing power as the laboratory machines he worked with in the ’90s. Smart phones also have high-bandwidth data connections to the cloud, where servers can do the heavy lifting involved with both voice recognition and understanding spoken queries. “The combination of more data and more computing power means you can do things today that you just couldn’t do before,” says Glass. “You can use more sophisticated statistical models.” [...]
Perhaps people will even speak to computers they wear, like the photo-snapping eyeglasses in development at Google. Sources at Nuance say they are actively planning how speech technology would have to be architected to run on wearable computers.
CNET - A group of researchers says shoes may be the next thing in the busy field of wearable computers and gesture interfaces.
Computer scientists from the Telekom Innovation Laboratories, the University of Munich, and the University of Toronto this week published a paper on ShoeSense, a wearable computing system for a smartphone.
[...] Developing alternative inputs for smartphones makes sense when a person is moving or engaged in other tasks, such as driving, or when it’s inappropriate to pull out a smartphone, such as during a family dinner, the ShoeSense developers said in a paper.
Its developers envision a sensor being placed in a shoe that is able to understand customizable hand and arm gestures. In a video, a user moves his finger along his forearm to turn up the volume on a music player in his pocket, pinches to select the next track, and then pinches with three fingers to send an “I will be late” e-mail to his wife.
Having a sensor device in a shoe has advantages over glasses in that it allows for eyes-free interaction, and it doesn’t constrain body motions. ShoeSense’s designers also think that it can be more socially acceptable to operate a smartphone through arm and hand gestures than via glasses. Potentially, the sensor could be powered by a walking motion.
Forrester Blogs – Senior Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps writes: Wearable devices, or “wearables” for short, have enormous potential for uses in health and fitness, navigation, social networking, commerce, and media. Imagine video games that happen in real space. Or glasses that remind you of your colleague’s name that you really should know. Or paying for a coffee at Starbucks with your watch instead of your phone. Wearables will transform our lives in numerous ways, trivial and substantial, that we are just starting to imagine.
In a new Forrester report out [on 04/17/2012], we argue that wearables will move mainstream once they get serious investment from the “big five” platforms — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — and their developer communities, and we give advice to product strategists who want to stay ahead of the wearables curve. Key takeaways:
Wearables are here, and more innovation is coming. We’ve all seen the movies: Gadget-laden heroes from James Bond to the Terminator to Iron Man have long relied on voice-controlled watches and heads-up display glasses to extend their powers. Now, those gadgets are a reality, albeit a niche one. [...]
Wearables need backing from the big five platforms to succeed. Wearables without software are just geeky hardware. The big five software platforms — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook – each have strengths to bring to wearables. [...]
Wearables will heighten the platform wars — and Google may actually win. [...] Google’s open Android platform will inspire broader experimentation for entire wearable solutions. [...]
Product strategists who want to stay ahead of the curve should take a cue from companies like Intuit and experiment with wearables now, especially if you’re in an industry that will be disrupted by wearables, including apparel, software, media, gaming, and commerce.
CNET- Google finally acknowledged that it’s testing a prototype set of eyeglasses that can stream data to the wearer’s eyes in real time.
A video of this augmented-reality experiment was posted by Google on YouTube showing someone wearing the glasses as he made his way around variety of Manhattan venues, receiving up-to-the-minute updates as information streamed into his glasses.
Now Google’s touting it as Project Glass. Parviz and his collaborators, Steve Lee and Sebastian Thrun, wrote up a brief post to accompany the video and solicited feedback, asking people what they’d like to see in the glasses.
“A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.”
Let’s not be too cynical about an idea that, at first blush, seems delightful but not very relevant. Also, given that the authorities take a dim view of driving while texting, you can image how they’ll react to someone behind the wheel of a car with yet another distraction.
new electronics - We are surrounded by electronic machines, many of which have advanced at an astonishing rate. But, arguably, the way we interact with these machines has lagged far behind. For example, decades after speech recognition was invented, how many people do you hear talking to their pcs? The humble keyboard and mouse remain the dominant interface.
Smartphones and tablet computers already use the touchscreen interface to great effect and if some of the many research projects underway succeed, touch technology – or haptics – will transform the way we use electronic devices.
One promising example of haptics is OmniTouch, a wearable projection system developed by Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US. It enables users to turn pads of paper, walls or even their own hands, arms and legs into graphical, interactive surfaces.
US company Novint Technologies is a leader in haptic interfaces for gaming, in the form of its Falcon and XIO products. Users hold onto the Falcon’s grip and as it moves, the computer tracks a 3d cursor. When the cursor touches a virtual object, the computer registers contact with that object and updates currents to motors in the device to create an appropriate force to the device’s handle, which the user feels.
Chris Harrison, of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute says, “The real world is full of rich haptic feedback: we push a door, grab a toothbrush, grasp a bottle. So far computing has lacked much touch input, so we’re mostly clicking buttons and poking touchscreens. But there is a huge opportunity for providing haptic feedback to the user, just as we get from real world actions.”
CNET- Scientists and engineers have built a monitor that tracks heart rate, respiration, and movement–without requiring direct contact with skin.
The “life and activity” monitor, developed at Oregon State University, is wearable and non-invasive. The sensor does this via a 5-axis inertial measurement unit and a non-contact heart rate sensor that allow for ongoing and simultaneous monitoring of movement, heart rate, and respiration. Imagine adhering such a device to your pants instead of wearing yet another arm or wrist band that’s trying to resemble a watch.
The researchers, who reported on their emerging tech this week, say the next step is to continue to miniaturize a device that is already just two inches wide–ultimately taking the form of, say, a disposable bandage prescribed by a doctor for a few weeks of continuous monitoring.
New York Times – [...] Wearable computing is a broad term. Technically, a fancy electronic watch is a wearable computer. But the ultimate version of this technology is a screen that would somehow augment our vision with information and media.
Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google’s case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.)
In Google’s secret Google X labs, researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone.
People familiar with the work in the lab say Google has hired electronic engineers from Nokia Labs, Apple and engineering universities who specialize in tiny wearable computers.
Apple has also experimented with prototype products that could relay information back to the iPhone These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.
Wearable Technologies - On January 30, 2012, for the fifth time in a row, the Wearable Technologies Conference will take place in line with the International Sport Business Network (ISPO) Trade Show in Munich. This conference gives visitors the opportunity to discover groundbreaking innovations from the fields of health, fitness and prevention.
The conference will feature two areas of interest, namely the newest developments in the areas of “Sports & Consumers” and “Health & Fitness”. In addition to novel technologies in development, the 2012 WTconference will present products ready for the market. These days, technologies worn on or near the body are experiencing a real boom. The first WT products, those interesting to a wider market, are recording resounding successes. In addition, the many innovative technologies that have just reached the market stage have become all the more important to those manufacturers who can use the new technologies in a variety of their products. Tracks include: Sports and Prevention, Smartphone and Consumer Gadgets, Therapy and Innovation.