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Contrasting and comparing two early wearable computers

Two early wearable computers were built independently. During the 1970s, I built a system (Fig 1(a-c)) for experimental photographic applications, unaware of wearable computers (Fig 1(d)) that were being built by a group of west-coast physicists, known as the Eudaemons[4].


Figure 1: Two early wearable computers developed in the 1970s. (a) A ``photographer's assistant'' system comprising my late 1970s wearable computer (pictured here with 1980 display). I integrated the computer into a welded-steel frame worn on my shoulders (note belt around my waist which directed much of the weight onto my hips). Power converter hung over one shoulder. Antennae (originally 3, later reduced to 2), operating at different frequencies, allowed simultaneous transmission and reception of computer data, voice, or video. This system allowed for complete interaction while walking around doing other things. (b) Close up of the uppermost end of the lightpaintbrush handle, showing the end that's held in my right hand. The collection of six spring-lever switches, one for each finger and two for thumb, permits input of data, as well as control of the lightpainting programs. (c) Close up of my 1980 display. (d) The Eudaemons' shoe-based computer which used a vibrotactile display (described in[5]) as its sole output modality. Thanks to Doyne Farmer for loan of shoe computer from which I took this picture.

It is interesting to contrast these two early wearable computing efforts.

Steve Mann
Tue Jan 6 23:24:56 EST 1998