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Comment Wearable information Technology and the Watch (Score 2) 196

I've been working on wearable computers since 1994 ( and I believe strongly in the concept. The smart phone has delivered nearly all the promise we had hoped for except hands-free operation. The cell phone watch is not new. I bought one that was made in China and wore it for years. In fact, I showed that watch at the Gadget Show during the 2008 International Symposium of Wearable Computers in Pittsburgh and I had been using for a couple of years at that point.

The watch doesn't offer a purely hands free experience, true, but I never lost that phone; I still have it. Answering calls is possible with the watch alone but a bluetooth headset is much more preferable. Nobody knew it was a phone until I received a call. That was generally followed by shock and amazement. I used it to track my billing hours. It was always there. It was pretty great, really.

The adoption of wearables has always been hampered by fashion strangeness. The watch format does a nice job of dealing with that. The screen size is challenging. Mine had a tiny little stylus and using it was merely possible and not much more. But, I could have a meeting with clients and nobody ever questioned it. When I wore my first wearable to its public opening, somebody on the subway asked if it was a bomb. The early wearables made the wearer self conscious in public; you had to be prepared to be stared at.

One of the early concepts proposed by Motorola was a constellation of devices that, together in synergy, becomes a full on wearable computer. That, I believe, was the project that first floated the idea of an ear bud headset. They, too, seemed strange at first but they have become widely adopted. That's where we are heading.

So, now, the electronics have gotten smaller, power consumption reduced to the point where battery bulk is reasonable, and infrastructure is in place to support wearable computers. Wearables are becoming real. Yet, there are still challenges. We hoped that head mounted displays would be key but we are still struggling with them. That's a field that I have been working on for the last decade. I know the challenges intimately and we are not there yet. In the meantime, the watch format is a viable intermediate step.

As for Apple coming to save the day: Frankly, I don't understand why people are so enamored with their offerings. They don't do anything different in my opinion. I prefer the Android approach that "opens the innovation tent" to everyone willing to give it a shot.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Open Source FPS Blood Frontier Releases Beta 2 113

An anonymous reader writes "The open source FPS Blood Frontier has now made their beta2 release. From the article: 'After many months of development, and massive amounts of input from the public, we are proud to present you with the new release of Blood Frontier, v0.85 (Beta 2). This new version totally redefines and improves the game in many ways, creating a whole new style that makes it almost nothing like its predecessor.'"

Jetman Attempts Intercontinental Flight 140

Last year we ran the story of Yves Rossy and his DIY jetwings. Yves spent $190,000 and countless hours building a set of jet-powered wings which he used to cross the English Channel. Rossy's next goal is to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, from Tangier in Morocco and Tarifa on the southwestern tip of Spain. From the article: "Using a four-cylinder jet pack and carbon fibre wings spanning over 8ft, he will jump out of a plane at 6,500 ft and cruise at 130 mph until he reaches the Spanish coast, when he will parachute to earth." Update 18:57 GMT: mytrip writes: "Yves Rossy took off from Tangiers but five minutes into an expected 15-minute flight he was obliged to ditch into the wind-swept waters."

Comment I earn my living working on HMDs (Score 4, Informative) 384

I've been involved with wearable computers since 1994. Further, I have been designing and fabricating head mounted displays for an academic client who is highly regarded in the field of optics since 2004. To say I know something about this subject would be a coy understatement.

What is clear from reactions to all my previous demos is that people want a head mounted display that is inconspicuous, fits well, has high resolution, full color, wide field of view and produces a high quality image. Oh, yeah, it should be inexpensive as well. Because I've been working with world class optical experts, I know the physical reality of the optics. These criterion conspire against one another; improving one diminishes the others. So, one must prioritize these and do the best we can.
Here is one potential ranking:

1) unobtrusive
2) fits well
3) image quality
4) wide field of view
5) full color
6) inexpensive
7) high resolution

Your request for high resolution with acceptable field of view and image quality makes the unobtrusive criterion impossible with today's technology. This is unacceptable to the public at large.

I am working on a display system now that fits behind an ordinary looking pair of sunglasses. We have compromised resolution and, to some degree, field of view. I'm bound by a confidentiality agreement but I can tell you we are making advances with each successive project. The HMD is the last remaining barrier to a compelling wearable computer. One day your cell phone will be in your sunglasses.

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