November 7, 2013 |  Posted in: Thought Leadership, Web Development, What's Trending

Guest blogger Tim Parkinson, on wearable computing and the web.

Steve Mann's 1990s wearable computer

Steve Mann’s 1990s wearable computer.

Tim is a web developer with 8 years experience, whom is currently on board with Zero working in ColdFusion where he develops web, intranet and e-commerce solutions based on the FarCry web application framework. Tim also has several years of experience in PHP development including working in Moodle, Mahara, Drupal and WordPress.

In David Brin’s epic science fiction book Existence, the author describes a near future world where most of its citizens are plugged into the Mesh, a multi-layered virtual reality which is overlaid over the real world using glasses, contact lenses or implants. AI assistants offer a constant stream of helpful captions, notifications, translations and other information which help the people of the 2050s navigate the world through a combination of sub vocal commands, eye blinks and tooth clicks.  In Brin’s future, rather than everybody walking around with their cell phones in hand tapping out texts, everyone will be wearing computers on their faces, grunting and clicking and blinking their way throughthe world.

The concept of wearable computing has been around for several decades. In the early 60s a pair of mathematicians built small computerised timing devices which helped them cheat at roulette, which they strapped to their legs or concealed within their shoes.

In the 1980s and 90s, Canadian researcher and inventor Steve Mann developed a series of prototype wearable computers. Initially consisting of bulky helmet mounted displays and a backpack full of computer hardware, cables and accessories, his designs have been refined to low-profile, though still futuristic looking eye glasses, which provide enhanced vision through image processing algorithms.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wearing Google Glass

The most recent and perhaps most famous development in wearable computing is Google’s Project Glass. This eyepiece is designed to interface wirelessly with a smartphone or tablet, and provides information to the user via a transparent overlay, such as message notifications, navigation directions, weather, and most recently, web browsing. The unit has a bone conduction transducer which sends audio signals through the skull to the user’s ear, detects eye blinks and movement, and responds to voice commands and tapped inputs through the built-in touch pad. It has a camera which is roughly equivalent to a modern smartphone, and is capable of taking photos, video and making video calls. It appears that Brin’s future is almost here.

November 7, 2013 |  Posted in: Thought Leadership, Web Development, What's Trending