PBS Off Book on the Future of Wearable Computing

April 29th, 2013 Leave a Comment

PBS Off Book has a short and interesting look into wearable computing. Check it out, h/t MAKE and Geekosystem:

Aside from the recent, top-of-mind examples (Google Glass, Pebble), I’m amazed at how functional smart garments have become. Innovation has been happening in both the fashion and DIY circles, but since I don’t pay very close attention to those areas, I’ve missed some nuggets.

Thinking about smart garments, I’m reminded of Ben Heck’s wind-up Android charger. Why shouldn’t your phone charge itself while in your pocket or purse? Extending the Glass/Pebble-as-smartphone-accessory idea, why couldn’t your clothes leverage the information from your phone’s many sensors to guide you through the World and collect information about you and your surroundings?

Or even include the sensors themselves, e.g. GPS, as described at the 4:04 mark in the video.

Fitness applications are mainstream by now, e.g. FitBit, Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone Up, but imagine how useful professional athletes would find the data collected from wearable gear, before, during and after exercise? I’ve heard that some athletes will use hyperbaric chambers to speed recovery time, so yeah, they’d be very interested.

Of course, that means data science and lots of software to draw conclusions from the data.

Everyday applications exist too, e.g. rolling emergency calls into clothing similar to the DIY ice cubes that monitor drinking and can text a friend if you’re over your limit, or the DIY pepper spray that also takes a picture. Tracking temperature and heart rate fluctuations collected by clothing could trigger emergency calls, or produce loud noises to deter attackers, like a safety whistle.

It’s a brave new world.

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