Wearable Computing

Fashion and the bluetooth earpiece


One fashion faux pas I noticed in Apple’s iPhone presentation on Tuesday: the basic black bluetooth earpiece. Come on Steve — where’s the bright flashing LED? How am I supposed to assert my dominance over other geeks if I can’t blind them from across the room just by turning my head? Heck, I can find my carkeys in the dark with my year-old Plantronics headset — at least give me laser beams or something! (And if you can make it beep with an original Star Trek communicator sound when I get a call, now that would really show ’em who’s the king of fashion!)

Blogging in Motion

The overall winner of this weekend’s Open Hack Day at Yahoo! was Blogging in Motion, which mounts a camera and pedometer in a handbag and then uses the Flickr API (and I presume a cellphone) to automatically blog one picture every minute. Sounds like a purse version of Steve Mann’s Wearable Wireless Webcam, and more recently Microsoft Research Cambridge’s SenseCam system, all hacked together in just one 24-hour marathon.

Link courtesy of Aileen, who also points out that one of the team members, Diana Eng, was also one of the contestants on last season’s Project Runway.

CNet review of Levi’s RedWire DLX Jeans


C|Net Asia has a review of Levi’s RedWire DLX Jeans, which include a watch pocket for your iPod Nano and a mini joystick on the outside for controlling it. Looks like Levi’s also groks that the iPod is as much a fashion accessory as it is an MP3 player, and matches accordingly:

The material is rather like a pair of Levi’s 523s. Tough and with a yielding woven pattern. In affirmation of the MP3 player it carries, the DLX’s detailing are colored a classic iPod white; from rivets to the button-fly and right down to the use of white embroidered threads.

(Thanks to Aileen for the link!)

UV-meter bikini


Solestrom Swimwear has a new bikini with a built-in UV Meter so you can figure out how long before you’ve had too much sun. (Looks like it’s just a meter — it would impress me more if it let you input how sun-sensitive you are and it gave you a countdown of how long you had left before burning.)

From their press release:

The bikini collects UV data though a smart fabric belt, and reports the UV index to the wearer with 0.01 accuracy. The electronic components are neatly built into the removable belt, and can be worn even underwater. Next in the list is a lower cost cousin, the SmartSwim™ UV Index Detector Bikini, which has UV sensitive beads that change color with the level of UV intensity. The reading gives more of a range rather than an accurate number, but for those who simply need to know if the UV is low, moderate or high, this bikini fits the bill.

(Link via Retrospectacle.)

Have your shoe talk to your iPod

Nike + Apple logos

Apple and Nike are pre-promoting the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, a Nike shoe with a built-in pocket for a pressure sensor that wirelessly sends your pace to your iPod Nano. The iPod will then provide “workout-based voice feedback” and “Nike sport music content.” Due out in late June for a suggested retail price of $29.

(Thanks to David Merrill for the link…)

ISWC 2006 submissions now being accepted

From the publicity chair for this year’s ISWC: “Submissions now open for the Tenth IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers! Submissions can include full papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages), poster papers (2 pages), demonstrations, tutorials and workshops, and exhibits. All submissions are due on April 21st at http://iswc.net.”

See the call for papers for more details.

Wearables in 2005

An article I wrote for the Wearable Computing column of IEEE Pervasive Computing magazine just came out, and highlights some of the projects at last year’s ISWC conference. Here’s the intro:

Wearables in 2005
Bradley Rhodes and Kenji Mase

In July 1996, one year before the first International Symposium on Wearable Computers, DARPA sponsored a workshop entitled “Wearables in 2005” (www.darpa.mil/MTO/Displays/Wear2005). Attendees predicted how wearable computers might be used in 2005 and identified key technology gaps that needed to be filled to make their vision a reality. In October 2005, the 9th Annual International Symposium on Wearable Computing was held in Osaka, Japan, the first to be held in Asia. Participants presented a wide range of research from both industry and academia, spanning 13 countries and weaving together such diverse fields as interface design, hardware and systems, gesture and pattern recognition, textiles, augmented reality, and clothing design.1 Many of the themes would have sounded familiar in 1996, with continuing improvements in ergonomics and power management as well as gesture recognition and augmented reality.

As you would hope, the field has also developed in new directions in the past decade, with a much greater emphasis on large-scale recording and annotation of everyday activities, on the science and engineering of clothing design, and on performing thorough quantitative evaluations of potential input devices. We have also seen a large increase in the use of accelerometers, smart phones, and RFID readers as researchers leverage continuing drops in cost and size in the consumer electronics world.

As the largest primary conference for wearables researchers, ISWC provides a good snapshot of the state of the field. So, with the benefit of hindsight, here are some highlights of how wearables research actually looked in 2005.

The IEEE copy is here, and I’ve also got an HTML copy on my publications page.

SeV Sport TEC


My friend Jay got me an SeV Sport TEC jacket for Christmas — I haven’t used the “Personal Area Network” channels for iPod headphones or the like (yet), but man is it nice to have all these pockets. I gave it a test drive in Joshua Tree National Park last weekend, and it was great to have one pocket for the camera, another for the wallet, a third for “little important things” like matches, LED flashlight & pocketknife, a fourth for trail maps, a fifth for trail mix, a springy lanyard for the car key, a back pouch for the removable sleeves, etc. I kept finding new pockets all through the trip, each with a little card in it printed with suggestions for what I might use it for. Definitely the great geek-gift of the season!

Levis to launch jeans with iPod remote

Via Reuters:

Denim giant Levi Strauss said on Tuesday it had designed jeans compatible with the iPod music player, featuring a joystick in the watch pocket to operate the device.

The Levi’s RedWire DLX Jeans for men and women, which will be available this fall, also have a built-in docking cradle for the iPod and retractable headphones.

BBC News reports the jeans will be launched around August for around $200.

(Update: forgot to thank Aileen for the link!)