Thanks to my friend Kenneth, who recently reminded me that that laying motionless for hours with a laptop on your stomach does NOT make it wearable...
Recently in personal Category
As of yesterday, I'm officially "wearing". (I heard this term used last year at ISWC by one of the borgs: "There are fewer people wearing this year." To me, it has the connotations of "packing" and seems only slightly more benign!)
I've got on the SenseWear Pro Armband from BodyMedia, a Pittsburgh-based company that designs and develops wearable body monitors. The armband records things like movement, skin temperature, galvanic skin response, etc. and is meant to be worn 24/7 minus showering/baths. I was surprised by how aware of it I was all day yesterday and by how much it bothered me. But I'm equally surprised that I've hardly noticed it today. In fact, it feels strangely warm and comforting.
The designers at BodyMedia have been involved with some other cool projects, such as Mariko Mori's Wave UFO. In the exhibit, three people would each attach a triangular-shaped device to their foreheads and then lay down in the domed Wave UFO. The forehead devices collected participants' brainwaves, which were then visually interpreted and displayed on the ceiling above them.
CMU held a technical job fair yesterday. It was pretty miserable for those of us in HCI, and particularly so for those of us who want to specialize within the field.
Just to relate one experience, I approached a recruiter from a major wireless provider, which shall remain nameless (err, well nearly nameless). I explained that I was interested in wearable computing and that I was sure his company would be looking into wearable technology in the near future if they weren't already. He said, "No, we're not going to be getting into that."
Now I realize that wireless providers don't make their own hardware, but they've got to be aware that wearables are on the horizon. A report by Thinking Materials says that "Wearing a mobile phone instead of carrying one in your pocket will make you use the phone more often." Don't tell me wireless providers aren't interested in how often people use their phones.
Figuring that wearables just weren't on this guy's radar, I asked if he'd take my resume and he said, "No." No?! C'mon, it was a job fair after all...
As another semester begins, I'm reminded that CMU really doesn't have any great classes for people interested in exploring interface and interaction design for wearable computers. Two classes I'd love to take:
1) Columbia's User Interfaces for Mobile and Wearable Computing. Class topics include input devices, applications, context awareness, form and function, and wearability. Students give presentations on displays, body-worn sensors, assistive interfaces, collaboration, privacy/social issues, and augmented reality.
2) Ivrea's Designing for The Body in Context. Students explore the functional/cultural/personal value of items kept on or near the body -- everything from wedding rings and eyeglasses to pens and cell phones. They then go through a series of exercises that culminate in the design of a new wearable device. Along the way they sketch, create storyboards, research cellular technology, and create a video. Not bad for four weeks! The class site currently links to many completed exercises and final projects from this year's students and has an amazingly extensive list of references and resources. I could easily get lost for hours.
I just found the Eurowearable '03 website and am MORE than a little shocked that their logo is nearly identical to mine! They even cut the guy into squares like I did! What are the friggin' odds? I am now a true believer in the collective consciousness...
The conference looks great, though, and seems to address social issues and design much more than ISWC does. There's also an exhibition called Wear Me which showcases several intelligent garments. Apparently this is just part of a larger exhibition that will begin in Sept 04.