Wearable computing: a good fit? It depends upon the application

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 16, 2006 -- With massive advances in computing technology, the next big thing on the horizon that promises to completely transform the lives of mobile employees across the world is wearable computing. This emerging technology combines revolutionary concepts such as context awareness and electronics textiles (e-textiles) with innovative display systems to deliver greatly enhanced employee productivity.

"Providing the workforce with the ability to work in a hands-free mode while operating a computer forms the basis for the future of wearable computing," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Subrahmania Janakiraman. "Researchers are already working on several areas such as voice recognition, miniaturization and modularization in their quest to achieve this goal."

Wearable computing is primarily application driven and targets specific areas that could benefit greatly by its implementation. Recent and significant advances in the miniaturization of electronic components such as processors and sensors as well as in wireless technology are likely to be strong driving forces for its large-scale commercialization.

Additionally, the development of electronic textiles and printable electronics has brought researchers closer to achieving true wearability in computing devices. There have also been tremendous advances in the area of context awareness, which is attracting increasing interest due to the ability of context-specific solutions to enhance the capability of wearable computers.

Context awareness essentially refers to the sensitivity of the system to temporal and spatial information. It involves an intricate array and network of sensors as well as wireless devices, all of which work in tandem to continuously update users with information based on their current location in space and time. This allows users to access only the most useful and relevant information, thereby enabling them to perform in a more productive manner.

However, wearable computers face many challenges that could hinder their eventual use in commercial and real-world applications. Some of the biggest issues relate to heat dissipation and battery power. This is because wearable computers offer "always on" connectivity and therefore require massive amounts of power to constantly transmit and receive information.

Finding a source of power that can meet the huge power requirements for such extended usage poses a major concern. The challenge is to create subcomponents that are able to utilize power in a highly effective manner. Considerable improvements in fuel cells could also offer a potential solution to this problem.

Another major area of concern is the need to constantly update the user on the context of the situation, which is an information-intensive process. Constantly changing contexts pose a strong challenge to researchers, since they bring into question the ability of wearable computers to keep pace with the resulting information overload.

"Providing an efficient processing environment, while taking into account an ergonomic design that enables users to continuously perform their tasks in an uninterrupted manner provides an effective solution to this challenge," notes Janakiraman. "An affordable, robust and context-aware wearable computing platform that provides maximum productivity benefits for enterprises holds the key to large-scale implementation of these systems."

Wearable Computing is part of the Electronic Devices Growth Partnership Services Subscription and provides an overview of advances in wearable computing technology along with key drivers, challenges and restraints. It also offers an analysis of wearable computers used in different applications as well as factors impacting their long-term functionality. This research service thoroughly examines the following technologies: e-textiles, printable electronics, embedded electronics, wireless network sensors, rollable and personal display systems, high performance-power ratio processors, heat dissipation, voice-directed wearable computers, 2D holographic imaging, context awareness, and fuel cells. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.

Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters and research services.

If you are interested in an analysis, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview, summary, challenges, and latest coverage of Wearable Computing, then send an e-mail to Tori Foster, Corporate Communications, at . Please include the following information: full name, company name, title, contact telephone number, contact fax number, e-mail. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be e-mailed to you.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, has been supporting clients' expansion for more than four decades. Our market expertise covers a broad spectrum of industries, while our portfolio of advisory competencies includes custom strategic consulting, market intelligence, and management training. Our mission is to forge partnerships with our clients' management teams to deliver market insights and to create value and drive growth through innovative approaches. Frost & Sullivan's network of consultants, industry experts, corporate trainers, and support staff spans the globe with offices in every major country.

Keywords in this release: Wearable computing, context awareness, electronic textiles, display systems, voice recognition, miniaturization, modularization, processors, sensors, wireless technology, printable electronics, heat dissipation, battery power, fuel cells

SOURCE Frost & Sullivan


     Tori Foster
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