wearability: September 2003 Archives

speaking of pockets...

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The ScotteVest (actually a jacket that converts to a vest) "allows users to discretely carry multiple electronic devices in the concealed, ergonomically designed pocket system." The jacket/vest has a patent-pending "Personal Area Network", which is just a hidden channel in the fabric through which you snake your headphone wires. (I've seen this feature in other jackets and am kind of surprised that it's patent-pending. I'm also surprised they're calling it a Personal Area Network, as this is a wireless term.)

It says that you can carry "digital cameras, portable keyboards, GPS devices, small laptop computers, two-way radios, bottled water, airplane tickets, magazines, wallets, keys, and much more". I've talked to some people who think pockets are the answer to wearable computing, but I'm not sold. First, I'm sure this jacket/vest weighs at least 73 pounds when loaded with all this gear. Second, a heavy, clunky torso is not exactly a fashion ideal for either men or women.

This product may currently fill a need for gadget heads, but it can't be the long term solution.

small = wearable?


Today Gizmodo complained about the quality of the new digital camera from Philips. I have a different beef.

Philips bills the device as a "camera key ring" and "wearable digital camera". They have a similarly designed audio player billed as an "audio key ring" and "wearable digital audio". A note on that product page says, "Let's face it. It's all about size and it's how you wear it."

How do you "wear" a key ring? My keys get tossed into my purse or backpack and sometimes go into my pants pocket. So if things that I can put into my pocket qualify as "wearable", then we should add the following items to this category: pens, highlighters, post-it notes, tampons, credit cards, coins, matches, gum, receipts, lipstick... I could go on.

Ok, the devices each come with a necklace strap so that you can wear them around your neck, but come on, people have been wearing cameras on straps around their necks for decades. Granted, the size of the new Philips camera makes this a little easier, but I think describing it as "ready to wear" is pushing the matter.

Wearable devices need to be designed with consideration for the human body, both at rest and in motion. Small does not equal wearable.

- Thanks for the link, Kenneth!



Neema and I are representing Carnegie Mellon at this year's International Symposium on Wearable Computers, which is taking place in October just outside of New York City.

Neema's going to be presenting a context-aware mobile phone that was developed by a group of students in CMU's rapid prototyping class. He'll also talk about his user research on the interruptibility of mobile phone users and other aspects of the project.

I'll be presenting research I did this spring on the link between the functionality and perceived comfort of wearable devices. The gist is that subjects' comfort ratings changed depending on what we told them a wearable device did! There were also differences in comfort ratings between device locations (arm and back) and between genders.

digital bracelet

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This spring I bought a Nike watch. I love its clean design and its translucent black body with lime green accents. I also love that there's a little screen saver-esqe animation that pops up from time to time. But most of all I love how it attaches to my wrist -- two flexible arms reach around and cling to my wrist with soft plastic pads. I justified my purchase by telling myself that the design and new attachment style were important innovations for a 100-year-old wearable device.

I just found out this morning that this watch won a silver medal in the consumer products division of the 2003 Industrial Design Excellence Awards. The Presto Digital Bracelet, as it's called, has "an ergonomic fit that is defined by three points of contact with the wrist and is made of lightweight polymer to provide flexibility and expansion. ... Ergonomic fit and polymer create a watch the user forgets they are wearing." Oh yes.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the wearability category from September 2003.

wearability: August 2003 is the previous archive.

wearability: October 2003 is the next archive.

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