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The Challenges of Wearable Computing, Part I and II

Wearable computing pursues an interface ideal of a continuoulsy worn, intelligent assistant that augments memory, intellect, creativity, communication, and physical senses and abilities. Many challenges await wearable designers as they balance innovative interfaces, power requirements, network resources, and privacy concerns. This survey describes the possibilities offered by wearables systems, and, in doing so, demonstrates attributes unique to this class of computing.

This is a good early overview of wearable computing by one of the main contributors to the field. At the time of the writing, wearables were still clunky devices “worn in satchels”. But the text does not suffer from this early hardware condition and focuses on concepts that still hold today to a good degree, including companionship, constant information access, assistance in daily needs, context, adaptivity and just in time information. The category of interaction mediation, for example, is even today still a work in progress.The text also discusses interesting power harvesting options (environment scavenging). The second part of the text focuses on challenges of network resources and privacy concerns, including a historical anecdote on Shannon’s wearable roulette predictor. Whil this is mostly a technical paper (with emphasis on physical and technical solutions to privacy compromises), there are some interesting discussions of privacy situations that do not have technical solutions and need to be dealt with via legislation and social conventions, for example.

Starner, T., “The Challenges of Wearable Computing: Part 1,” IEEE Micro, Vol. 21, Iss. 4, July 2001, p. 44-52 

Starner, T., “The Challenges of Wearable Computing: Part II,” IEEE Micro, Vol. 21, Iss. 4, July 2001, p. 54-67

Expertise Level

Professional Field
Computer Science, Interaction Design

Link to Document 1

Link to Document 2