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Wearable Computers and Portable Power

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the embedded-sequin-processors-latest-fashion dept.

The Military 25

An anonymous reader writes "Last weekend, Silicon Valley VC Marc Andreessen called out 'wearable computing' as a Next Big Thing. Now MC10, a three-year-old company making flexible electronics, is taking an old idea to new places. The startup is developing health sensors that conform to the human body, image sensors that curve like the retina, and stretchy solar cells (and other circuitry) that can be woven into the fabric of a tent or aircraft skin. Unlike organic or printed electronics, which tend to be inefficient, MC10 uses silicon islands linked by springy interconnects. It's still early, but the company has new backing from VCs, Reebok, and the U.S. government to develop wearable devices, mini-sensors, and portable power. Imagine a self-charging UAV with tiny cameras on board, and you can tell what the military wants out of this."

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I have duct-taped my cell phone to my wrist (4, Funny)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#36738536)

I am now in the future.

Re:I have duct-taped my cell phone to my wrist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36738790)

If you get wet, you're history

The Duct Tape IS The Computer (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#36739352)

The real question becomes when will the duct tape have more power than your existing cell phone....

Beware of water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36738622)

This is all fine and well until you get it wet. Umbrellaputer...

Not to mention you know how easily clothes get torn while working? Idealism is not good for practicality. Think "90% of my customer base is either accident prone or complete morons."

Re:Beware of water (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#36738890)

Not to mention you know how easily clothes get torn while working?

Not that easily when you do the kind of "work" that goes in to cooking up these kinds of ideas.

Wearable computers -- an idea prized by the type of people who move as little as possible and don't mind wearing the same ill-fitting clothes day after day.

Andreessen - why should we care? (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#36738772)

Apart from his involvement with Mosaic and Netscape, all his projects and proclamations about the web share several common traits: breathless articles on the part of the technical and popular press detailing the web pioneer/VC entrepeneur's AWESOME vision of the future, and rapid passage into obscurity as the proclaimed AWESOME future did not come to pass.

At this point, the word Andreesen does no more for me than trigger an involuntary yawn.

Re:Andreessen - why should we care? (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#36740872)


Replying to myself, the fact that this story has only garnered 20 responses in several hours, whilst other stories posted later are in the 100's already, shows the level of apathy slashdotters feel for Mr. Andreessen and his proclamations. I should have know the proper response was no response at all. I guess I still have a little evolving to do. :-)

Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36738828)

"Imagine a self-charging UAV with tiny cameras on board, and you can tell what the military wants out of this."

Hasn't it occurred to anyone that if that money was spent on making the world a better place, instead of being spent on war and destruction, there would not be any need for military technology because we'd have no more enemies? And no, not even Al Qaeda is fighting the USA for a matter of religion. Maybe the average suicide bomber does, but the leaders don't. And without leaders to tell them how good it is to fight for their God, there would be no suicide bombers...
You know, use technology to feed everyone, provide them with comfort (e.g. computers, a/c, etc.), cure diseases... That would remove plenty of reasons why people fight. With today's technology and more funding for research, we could achieve world piece. It wasn't possible 30 years ago, but today it is. The only problem is, everyone is much too afraid to lower their guard even a little. So instead we'll just have another 50 more years of war I guess...

The really sad thing is that this technology will go for military applications first. Civilians will have it for everyday, convenient use only 10 years later. And the military will say "Thanks to us for developing this technology, now you can all have it. See how war promotes technological advancement?" when they've actually only been monopolizing it for a decade.

Re:Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36738972)

So the leaders are going to give up their power, control and benefits from corruption because people want to make the world a better place? That seems kind of naive. Communists initially wanted to make the world a better place and look at how that turned out. People will never agree about the HOW of making the world a better place because of different values and life experiences, and yes sometimes the differences are so vast it results in war. Part of the problem is when one tries to make the world a better place one needs to ask "for whom" and the answer of everyone tends to be untrue, particularly since compared to the status quo making it better for "everyone" makes it a lot worse for many "someones".

Only the military interested in UAVs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36738868)

Re: "Imagine a self-charging UAV with tiny cameras on board, and you can tell what the military wants out of this."

Why do you think only the military would be interested in this... Look at e.g. what the EU Indect surveillance project proposes, where they propose to have drones flying around all over the place surveilling all everybody all the time, because somebody might do something wrong. Guilty until proven so I guess...

I'm not making this up either, see for example: http://events.ccc.de/congress/2010/Fahrplan/events/4237.en.html (there's also the presentation here: http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2010/27c3-4237-en-indect_eu_surveillance_project.html).

Some of this already here (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 2 years ago | (#36738880)

According to the show on one of the Testosterone Channels, the Green Berets use a kind of "medical tee shirt" on their candidates that transmits vitals and location data. IIRC, there was a panel on the shirt that housed everything. This new item seems to be more in the area of comfort than function.

contact lenses (1)

wcoenen (1274706) | more than 2 years ago | (#36739010)

Sensors embedded in clothing? *shrug* Let me know when they've got contact lenses with embedded displays [tgdaily.com].

Re:contact lenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36742098)

Amen to that - I run and cycle, and I'd love to see a HUD on my sunglasses that showed elapsed time, heart rate, and distance traveled. (I'm ok with a Bluetooth component communicating with my cell phone for the GPS part of that requirement.)

Hmm, seen this somewhere before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36739050)

Hopefully they'll do better than these guys did. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xybernaut

I've duct taped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36739058)

my cell phone to the side of my head.


Wearable is a Misnomer (1)

maczealot (864883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36739080)

Although I am sure that "wearable" makes more sense to Joe Sixpack what this really seems to be about to me is that once you shrink computing so much that getting smaller is really not useful the next thing to do is make it more durable/flexible, i.e. "wearable"

From that point of view he is probably spot on. I do wish we could have a discussion about such technical merits rather than whether or not people like this particular guy or not etc.

want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36739134)

>"and you can tell what the military wants out of this."

The same thing they try to get every day, Pinky.
Grant money.

I thought that's what my iPhone was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36739820)

Oh well, I guess I was confused ... but mark is hear to clear things up for me! He has been right about so many things in the past.

Seriously, our phones are already "wearable" the problem we have is the manufacturers will not allow propitiatory devices to be connected. get that problem solved, and we are off the the races.

It pisses me off when progress in technology is being held back by the people that make it.

Big thing my ... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36740152)

why am I going to strap a bunch of shit on me just to have what most celphones come with already

Who are going to be the early adopters? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36741546)

Wearables have never really caught on. Control panels flexible enough to be part of clothing have been around for a while, and I had access to a smart jacket 15 years ago.

Thing is, they don't seem to appeal to the mass market. I think part of it is the "what will it do for me" question that non-geeks ask. Without a killer app, people aren't going to go for wearables.

What the military wants out of this? (1)

TBBle (72184) | more than 2 years ago | (#36744660)

Imagine a self-charging UAV with tiny cameras on board, and you can tell what the military wants out of this

I'm going to guess "a self-charging UAV with tiny cameras on board" is what you are angling for here... But the sentence itself is a travesty. Worse than using a passive form to remove blame, this appears to be using the second person to try and make me feel involved in reaching the conclusion the writer has already decided I should reach, and hence turn idle speculation into some kind of supported conclusion in my head.

Thank you, but I can do my own mind-reading without needing to be prompted.

Let's leave the 90s behind... (1)

matthew_t_west (800388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36755938)

The only "wearable computer" I want is a HUD in my spectacles. Wearable computing is not a new idea... Shit, the Dick Tracy watch was imagined before wearable computing was even a catch phrase. Let's call it something different, though... Wearable computers makes me think of the Tron Guy. The best one I have heard so far is "Mobile Computing."

For some real next level shit, check out Ubiquitous Computing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubiquitous_computing [wikipedia.org] . That's _really_ the future. ;-)


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