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Whereables?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the still-a-small-niche dept.

Portables 101

d4 asks: "Thad Starner has been using a wearable computer daily since 1993, and Steve Mann has had an impressive amount of press coverage over the years. But if you want wearable computing in 2005, it seems you must build your own system. Why, after all this time and attention, are wearables still not commercially available?"

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Reboot? (2, Funny)

orangeguru (411012) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750364)

I don't want to reboot by pants! And I don't want a virus in my jacket ...

Re:Reboot? (3, Funny)

a1englishman (209505) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750566)

A virus in your pants sounds far worse.

Re:Reboot? (1)

orangeguru (411012) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751582)

Pah, I use Norton Anti Syphilis ...

Re:Reboot? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751714)

"Digital Pants, activate!

Er. It seems they've crashed. It's a beta garment, you know."

-- Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie

(And all Microsoft ever wanted was love.)

Re:Reboot? (1)

garwil (841790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753999)

Hey I got loads of virii in my pants. STDs are like Pokemon, you gotta catch 'em all!

(I'll trade my herpes for your chlamydia.)

maybe... (5, Insightful)

same_old_story (833424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750367)

because they are still bulky and pretty useless...

Re:maybe... (1)

Leonig Mig (695104) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751357)

saying "pretty useless" is a bit generous. they're useless ;>

Re:maybe... (2, Interesting)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752290)

Not only that, but consider the niche they target. Plenty of niche requirements are not commercially available.

Example: where are the consumer targetted RAID-capable NAS units? Sure, I can buy RAID NAS devices from plenty of vendors, but a quick peek shows Iomega's chepest RAID capable unit over the $1,000 range new (and don't go spouting off on remanufactured units on ebay; that doesn't count). This is a simple example, but the NAS from other vendors is pretty much the same deal. Consumer-line NAS exists, yes, but consumers NEED RAID. They never run backups, and they're usually storing things like digital camera photos that they'll never be able to recover after an HDD crash. This need has arguably existed for several years, and I'd happily recommend a zero-maintenance box with two mirrored 80GB drives and an ethernet port in the $500 range for tons of non-techies that I know. I've seen one ethernet-based disk by some company I don't know of that claims RAID support, but I'm not sure how, since it exists as a stand-alone single-drive model (does it start mirroring over the network automagically?). Buffalo seems like they might finally be stepping up to the plate, but for a long time it's been "roll your own or fork over $1,000 more than you can justify."

Or:

Hot on the heels of the SFF story, we're only now starting to see actually-for-sale SFF computers, as opposed to bare-bones units. Sure, there've been skinny corporate-targetted workstations for a while, but the pseudo enthusiast who wanted an SFF-like computer either built it from components or lived without one. It's only been in the last nine months or so that I've seen these things available on shelves or somewhere other than an obscure whitebox retailer's website.

So in addition to being bulky and useless, wearables are so totally niche right now that there's no money to be made in commercially providing one for anything other than a total specialty area.

Re:maybe... (2, Insightful)

Grab (126025) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753870)

For a short answer, that's basically it. :-)

For a long answer:-
* Batteries still don't last long enough and are still too heavy.
* Chording keyboards are still immature, expensive, clunky and not widely available.
* There still isn't a suitable viewing mechanism - all current ones suffer from one or more of: not enough resolution; can't support colour; produces eye-strain; too heavy; too clunky; too expensive; too fragile; requires too much power drain.

So if you want a wearable, you're stuck with a low-powered processor, a heavy battery pack, a clunky chording keyboard, and an ugly (and heavy) headset that'll only do 640x480 in grey-scale. And it'll cost a fortune.

Grab.

Because (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750372)

Even geeks want to try and find a date!

Re:Because (2, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752164)

Even geeks want to try and find a date!


Obviously neither of the two gentlemen listed in the story -- think Harold from Red Green gone horribly wrong.

Ummm.... (1)

trims (10010) | more than 9 years ago | (#11763817)

Obviously, you've never met Thad's wife, Tavenner. She's fantastic in all senses of the word.

Hi Tavenner!

-Erik

Look up "Normal People" on google or something (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750380)

[stevemannsaweirdo.com]

3 Simple Reasons (5, Insightful)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750382)

1. Battery life- Batteries haven't been keeping up with other computer components in terms of improvements. A hefty CPU just drains them too quickly- And without a hefty CPU a Palm PC form factor is more practical.
2. Headaches- Nobody has figured out how to make an eyeglass display that doesn't cause lots of complaints about migranes. The atari VR system and the Nintendo VR both got killed by this.
3. Dork factor- Until Apple releases an iWearable and tempts all the hipster-wannabes with commercials, you just can't walk around with this gear in public without feeling weird- Just like with MP3 players pre-ipod.

One more. (5, Funny)

jfisherwa (323744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750600)

4. Basements- Having a wearable computer would mean that geeks would actually have to enter the unforgiving world that awaits beneath the scorching sun.

Re:One more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11760488)

you cannot refer to the myth of the dreaded daystar, which lurks on the fabled "outside"

Re:3 Simple Reasons (1)

man_ls (248470) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750716)

If they ever mass-produce the Eyetap, it wouldn't be so bad.

The Eyetap is a discrete retinal projector that sits over a single eye. It's thin (half-inch wide) and has an arm that goes back behind your ear. Cord goes down the back of your neck.

I've seen pictures of it on the proof-of-concept site and its more of an "what's that? hmm I dunno" than a "omgnerd look at that guy hes got a computer on his face"

No 'Killer App' (1)

uits (792760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750409)

Show me the killer app for a wearable, hell, show me 'a' worthwhile application that won't require millions in R&D.

Re:No 'Killer App' (1)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750666)

1) Rewind and instant-replay for your life.
2) porn! porn! porn!

Killer app: (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750762)

Does a smart phone count?
The killer app is voice.

Re:Killer app: (1)

J. T. MacLeod (111094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11758693)

Well, that is probably the largest driving force.

But as technology progresses, they'll be able to fit them into smaller and smaller packages, maybe even make one that fits into the palm of your hand. I bet the money in voice is in phones like that.

Re:No 'Killer App' (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750846)

The killer app is direct and instant access to the combined knowledge of mankind. Imagine being able to google an answer to a question in the field in real time.

Re:No 'Killer App' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11751012)

> Imagine being able to google an answer to a question in the field in real time.

Mmm, like on University exams? I like where this is going...

Re:No 'Killer App' (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11761111)

University exams should be about applying knowledge, not regurgitating it. When I left university the vast majority of my exams were "open book" but a textbook is such an innefficient piece of technology. The problem with communication equipment in exam rooms, however, is that someone else could be reading through your glasses and doing the work for you.

Re:No 'Killer App' (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752387)

Imagine being able to google an answer to a question in the field in real time.

"Hi Issac! We were just going down to the club. Want to come? You know, the club. The club downtown. The club in downtown New York. The other club in downtown New York. You know, the club with great lobster and that cute waitress. No, still in New York. Next. Next. Next. Next. You know, the one we went for Bill's Birthday last year? Not Mr. Bill, our Bill, from work. Yes, last year. I mean, the year before. Of course you don't have it in your PDA, you got that silly thing last Christmas. Two days after Christmas, whatever. No I don't want to see the recipt. Why would I want to track the package?

Anyway, do you want to come to the club or what? The club. The club downtown..."

Re:No 'Killer App' (1)

Keruo (771880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753290)

cell phones have gps, just press 'show map' and tell him to come at the club at corner of this and that

Re:No 'Killer App' (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750902)

overlay a washu-term onto my reality and you can take 50% of my paycheck for life. There's your killer app.

Re:No 'Killer App' (3, Informative)

golgotha007 (62687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11757178)

If you're not trolling and really interested in a "killer app" with regards to wearable computing, I suggest you read this paper by Steve Mann [wearcam.org] which explains exactly how augmented reality can improve your awareness in everyday situations.

The man is truly a genius and well ahead of our time.

one word: fashion (3, Insightful)

voisine (153062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750417)

pda's are horribly unfashionable, let alone headgear. You need a display that can be integrated into a pair of shades of your choice, and no antennas sticking up from behind the ears. Alternately perhaps apple could come up with something svelte and stylish that is itself a fashion statement like white ipod ear phones are now.

Re:one word: fashion (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751316)

Seems to me there was a slashdot story that could fix much of this- something about running a 10Mbit Ethernet Connection through your skin. But I agree- it ain't here yet.

Simple answer (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750423)

Most consumers don't live and breath computers. If they have to take a laptop out of their briefcase and wait for it to boot or dehibernate, it's no big deal. Geeks may seek borg-style computers, but that's not a big enough market for a commercial device.

Re:Simple answer (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751721)

Wait! You must be using a PC :)

Simple. (2, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750451)

The technology has not been advanced enough to the point that hardware can be small enough as to avoid making the wearer look like a complete moron. And, even if we had acheived that point, there isn't much use for 'wearable' computers. Exactly what do you need one for? You can't use a regular GPS and/or PDA to do everything you would need to do while mobile?

Re:Simple. (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11755906)

The technology has not been advanced enough to the point that hardware can be small enough as to avoid making the wearer look like a complete moron.
That didn't stop mobile phones.

Who needs wearable? (2, Insightful)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750456)

Might the fact that no-one wears a wearable computer be because no-one needs to? We all carry mobile phones, and are thus available at all times. Some of us have mobiles with calendars, to-do items and so on. We're connected.

Others use PDAs, which give them computing powers beyond the dreams of those who languish in the nineties. We can now emulate elderly computers on a handheld

Wearable computers... we carry them in our pockets.

Why I don't use wearable computers Reason #1: (5, Funny)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750457)

I can't use wearable computers since my tie keeps getting caught in the CPU fan.

Re:Why I don't use wearable computers Reason #1: (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 9 years ago | (#11757915)

You should be thankful that the dangly-bit getting caught in the fan IS your TIE.

I was going to be funny but... (5, Insightful)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750472)

I guess if you really have to ask why there are no wearable computers, the humor would just be lost anyway.

Where...able ? (3, Funny)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750488)

Where did I leave my frigging whereable ? Maybe I look it up on my wearable.

Re:Where...able ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11750904)

It was a pun.

WHERE are the WEARABLES
Where + Wearables= Whereables

I wear a computer (4, Insightful)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750505)

What everyone seems to miss is that we are already wearing computers. 145 million Americans have cellular telephones. Many of them have capabilities that far surpass what could be done with 1996-class desktops, let alone wearables.

There's no need for the dorky headgear or the wierd chorded keyboards. I'm already wearing a computer. It's the Danger Hiptop2. It has a thumbkeyboard, a display, a connection to the internet, and a number of other features. It can do just about anything that the "wearables" of 1996 could do.

Wearables don't exist because they don't need to exist. What's wrong with products like the Dell Axim X50v? It has a 624MHz PXA270 ARM processor, 64MB of DRAM, 128MB of flash, a VGA touchscreen, WLAN, Bluetooth, infared, CF and SD expansion, and a lot more.

It's $425, it runs for 6 hours on batteries, and it absolutely blows away any "wearable" you saw on the Discovery Channel. Oh, and you don't look like a dork for carrying one.

Re:I wear a computer (-1, Troll)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750657)

Not look like a dork using a dell portable product? Ha.

Re:I wear a computer (1)

Martin Taylor (861858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750876)

And that post right there is what makes you look like a dork. "Lame computer brand! Gloiven!"

Re:I wear a computer (1)

0x20 (546659) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751438)

hahahhaha! man, i wish i had mod points. frink++

Re:I wear a computer (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751209)

That is pretty much it. Do not forget to add the iPod to your list of wearable computers. Most people do not need "enhanced" reality. The Internet and TV already cut us off from our local reality as it is. Think about it. How many of us have friends in other states and countries that we met on-line yet we do not know the people that live next to us?
We need a wearable computer about as much as we need atomic underware.

Re:I wear a computer (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753696)

You know of any underwear that doesn't consist of atoms?

Unless you meant...

Oh. I see. Don't even go there.

Re:I wear a computer (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11755560)

Ok fine if we have to be that way... How about "We need wearable computers about as much as we need radioactive underware."

Re:I wear a computer (1)

Tassach (137772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11758298)

"We need wearable computers about as much as we need radioactive underware."
Actually, given the number of idiots in the world and the rate at which they are reproducing, a sterility-inducing fashion statement may be just what the species needs.

Three words... (4, Insightful)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751597)

Heads-Up Display.

If you have to stop surfing to cross the road, it's not a proper wearable.

exactly! (4, Interesting)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752884)

Anyone remember that IBM commercial of the businessman sitting on a bench in a plaza feeding the pigeons. At the beginning of the commercial, it looked like he was talking to himself and he gets more and more excited, finally jumping up and down shouting "YES!!" and all of the birds fly off. The idea was that he was watching his stock take off in realtime over the internet on a display mounted on his glasses that projected into his eyes.

That is what I am waiting for. Something small, unobtrusive, and no less stylish than glasses. It would be really cool if you could have it be a semi-transparent overlay over the real world. It would be even more cool if a system could be implemented to feed you realtime info about what you are looking at.

But I get the feeling I'll get one of those for free with my Flying Car that I will have won as part of the opening sales promotion of Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:exactly! (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11756167)

and a 4pi steradian display map that has both a sensor to see which way your head is looking and a separate scroll device so that you can rotate any part of the display into view.

Re:exactly! (1)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 9 years ago | (#11761749)

Wow. I bow to your superior geekitude!

Re:exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11764669)

I bow to your superior suck up 'tude!

Re:exactly! (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11766904)

All I ever want is more screen. I want to have a zillion docs open all over the desktop and just turn my head to see them.

I want to eliminate paper-- paper files don't put themselves back in the right place when you close them- they just sit there like a lump on your desk. Why can't they file themselves?

I'd even be happy with a 4pi display that only worked in my office because it has a big helmet mount for now, but the HUD version on small glasses or a retina projector would be nice in the long run.

Re:Three words... (2, Funny)

ferkelparade (415620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753346)

> If you have to stop surfing to cross the road

There's a chicken joke somewhere in there, but I can't quite lay my fingers on it...

Re:I wear a computer (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751675)

There's no need for the dorky headgear or the wierd chorded keyboards.
How else can you write Perl code while waiting in line for a movie?

Actually, they are out there. (4, Informative)

bruciferofbrm (717584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750652)

Look at: http://www.xybernaut.com

They have been at it for some time.

I use dto want to play this game too. Spent a lot of money (of what I could afford) on some gear. Closet thing I had to a mobile processor was an old laptop.

But at the time, display technology was below perfomance / dollar expections of the everyday man. But persevered I did. Even wrote a contact manager that runs in low resolution with a one handed keyboard.

In the end I made the same decision most other people will. For the dollar, you can't get where you want to be. The only real people capable of advancing this field are still the R&D gang and the college kids (usually the same group).

In addition, as mentioned by others, it hard to beat some of eht computing power availble in the PDA form factor (especially in Japan). I have been oon PDAs since the original PALM 128k unit. No need for a bulky monocular display hanging off my head, great run time, and lots of applications for the mobile user. And yet.. nothing truely pervasive as seen in the wearble experimental world.

Re:Actually, they are out there. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11755065)

I actually played around with a Xybernaut MA V (P3, ATI graphics) with a 800x600 HMD (apparently it's discontinued now), a 40-key wrist-mount USB keyboard, and a finger trackball (you know - those $20 ones that they sell as presentation mice). It was pretty nice.

I've considered building a wearable with a VIA EPIA N. The only problem is a screen - battery shouldn't be too hard, considering how widely available DC-DC PSUs are for other VIA form-factors *cough*Mini-ITX*cough*.

Re:Actually, they are out there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11761030)

Xybernaut is actually the reason why wearables didn't make it in the marketplace. They own the large majority of patents on wearable computers, and enforce it religiously. But their own systems are grotesquely expensive. They've essentially priced wearables out of any effective market until the patents expire.

Re:Actually, they are out there. (1)

druxton (166270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11770079)

Even wrote a contact manager that runs in low resolution with a one handed keyboard.
Must ... resist ... lame ... pr0n ... joke.

No marketing (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750731)

Seriously, that's the problem. Steve Mann's EyeTap systems are the best wearable argumented reality systems available. Unfortunately he doesn't even consider it necessary to add some sunglass lenses to the front of the EyeTap, making himself look like a cyborg, which is the point really, being that he does "performance art" with it. The irony of it is, the EyeTap systems would look like normal sunglasses if you put sunglass lenses on them.

Now I have to wonder. Steve Mann isn't interested in commercializing this stuff, but he does provide full specs on how to make them, so which isn't someone commercializing this technology? I'd buy a pair of sunglasses that looked cool and let me google whilst talking to people, wouldn't you? Imagine someone asking you a question and you being able to answer with the power of google at your disposal!

batteries (1)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11750933)

the major component that is lacking is a battery with a decent size/performance. just doesn't exist. if a battery in the AA form-factor could power a modern laptop for 6 hours it would open up the door for all kinds of really cool miniaturized hardware.

to keep things in perspective i saw a documentary about the military working on equipping soldiers with "onboard" computing for realtime use in the field and the prototypes are still 50 lbs.

Re:batteries (1)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752815)

to keep things in perspective i saw a documentary about the military working on equipping soldiers with "onboard" computing for realtime use in the field and the prototypes are still 50 lbs.

Heck no, they all use Palms. Haven't you ever played Splinter Cell?

Or maybe it's just the NSA that gets 'em.

They have arrived... (2, Interesting)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751010)

...you just didn't notice. (Okay, actually, they're not available to the public yet, but a couple of review sites have gotten their hands on working models.)

Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA [fossil.com]

Okay, this is probably more the inspiration for asking the question rather than what was being sought, but it's still a computer that you wear.

--Ender

Because there is no market for them... (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751230)

Sure, there are 'bleeding-edge' early adopters of the technology; but that doesn't necessarily mean that your average Joe Q. Shithead is going to need one. Hell, even PDA's are only used by a small percentage of the populous.

There is going to have to be a catalyst to lead to wearable computing for the masses.

Even as great of a product as the Newton was, it was premature to market. The same thing is happening with the Wearables. Something needs to happen to make people need/want a wearable. Until that happens, expect them to remain on the fringe.

Re:Because there is no market for them... (1)

Staplerh (806722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752265)

"Joe Q. Shithead"

Hahhahhah, I don't usually post inanities, but that just made me laugh so hard...

Re:Because there is no market for them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11755297)

It's "populace", not "populous".

a solution in search of an application (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751513)

A former boss of mine has an excellent question he always asks regarding requests to acquire new technology: "What's the problem for which this is the solution?" The lack of an answer to that question is the answer to the question posed by this thread.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752584)

A wearable computer, capable of augmented reality, solves a host of problems.

Done correctly--say, with clear eyeglasses and a thin-color-screen that lets the eye show through--an augmented reality can let someone who's interacting with the public reference information without turning away from the public.

Imagine a restaurant where all the wait staff have glasses. They carry around a small black to "write" on, and as they look each customer in the eye the seating and location of the order is instantly taken down. If the customer assents to the restaurant recording their preferences, the glasses can even flash a customer's name when they walk in with their RFID-restuarant tag.

And then there's supplemental information for other fields.

The simple answer, of course, for why whereables aren't out there is that they aren't powerful enough to do anything worth the hassle. The closest we come is HUDs in fighter jets.

Exepct civilian wearables to follow the military's Future Soldier program by about fifty years. Until then, they're just not worth it.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

snorklewacker (836663) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752832)

Imagine a restaurant where all the wait staff have glasses. They carry around a small black to "write" on, and as they look each customer in the eye the seating and location of the order is instantly taken down. If the customer assents to the restaurant recording their preferences, the glasses can even flash a customer's name when they walk in with their RFID-restuarant tag.

Minus the never-going-to-fly-with-customers RFID stuff, it sounds just like the order pads the waiters use at some busy North Beach restaurants. Don't need distracting eyegear popups, it just takes a glance down at the pad. Orders are entered and every table's order is displayed on the pad, by number. Any waiter that can't handle learning the table numbers on their first day is not cut out for the job, and no amount of technology can cover for that lack of ability.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1, Funny)

Defender of Property (861908) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752938)

How appropriate that a pirate, a thief, a vandal of intellectual property rights such as yourself, would advance such a criminally stupid argument.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753445)

Alternatively you can train your staff so they can remember everyone's order without writing down a damn thing. If you've never had this kind of service I suggest you go to a high class restraunt sometime, it really is an enjoyable experience.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11760859)

Alternatively you can train your staff so they can remember everyone's order without writing down a damn thing. If you've never had this kind of service I suggest you go to a high class restraunt sometime, it really is an enjoyable experience.

It's a wasteful extravagance, and in any case merits a higher wage for the employee. Not to mention that mistakes will still be possible.

In ten years I'll expect that when I sit down at a resturant, the waitstaff will enter my order into the restaurant's system right there at the table. If there is a shortage of something, I will expect to be told right away, not just as my food is prepared.

I have gone to high class restaurants, and "enjoyable" is not the word that I would use to describe the experience. "Pleasant", perhaps, but not "enjoyable" in the same way that dining upon a favorite dish is.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11760993)

Well I'd expect in the next 2 years to be able to go to McDonalds and enter my order on a touch screen and have it brought out to me. Of course, I'd much prefer it if it were cooked by fully autonomous systems and brought out to me by a mobile robot, but I think that's still a while off (being that unskilled labour is EVERYWHERE and costs less than robots ever will).

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11771998)

Assume that a system to prepare food can do the task of only one person making minimum wage, and that the administrative overhead is equal.

The person still gets minimum wage here in America--McDonald's biggest market. A typical McD is open from 6 until 11 -- seventeen hours, every day of the year.

17 * 365 = 5,110

Minimum wage is $5.15 an hour nationwide. (Some places are higher, some folk are scammed to work for less, but let's take the $5.15.)

If we presume that there are no benefits, the machine only has to cost less than $26,316.50 per year to be worthwhile. (Assuming, again, that it's neutral with respect to the McD's revenue.)

if the thing only lasts five years, it can have a sale price of over $130,000, btw. Well within the realistic range of "mass-produced moderate-effeciency robots."

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11822318)

The person still gets minimum wage here in America--McDonald's biggest market. A typical McD is open from 6 until 11 -- seventeen hours, every day of the year.

Every single McD's I've seen over the last 5 years has paid 2-4 dollars above minimum wage. McD's hasn't been a minimum wage employer for quite some time. Most seem to start ~$2 above, not some.

That said, as soemone who has had employees the costs of a person tend to be around 30% of their pay. So someone making 10/hour costs more like 13/hour. Assuming administrative overhead as equal is a non-viable assumption.

But your machines also have power and maintenance to consider, so sale price alone is a poor determinant. In many cases the ongoing costs are larger than the purchase price. Especially in bulk.

The fast food industry is a lot of non-trivial actions and movements. Variances in natrual food state and quality can wreak havoc with bots.

Vending machines still screw up hot chocolate and coffe filling. Add in ice, foaming, and so on and it gets ugly fast. Cooking burgers .. that's best done automatically by running over a flame broiler conveyor belt like Burger King (or dominos Pizza) do. Problem is the removal and application to a bun as well as application of accessories -condiments, lettuce, pickles .. are the pickle and tomatoes looking any good today?- get really hairy as well.

Now, find bots that can do those things as well as a teenager, can do it within 2x the cost of the teenager, before pronouncing it is "well within the range". I'm not joking here, I'd truly love to see these things, even though the fast food places will not use them.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11822261)

Minus the never-going-to-fly-with-customers RFID stuff, it sounds just like the order pads the waiters use at some busy North Beach restaurants. Don't need distracting eyegear popups, it just takes a glance down at the pad. Orders are entered and every table's order is displayed on the pad, by number. Any waiter that can't handle learning the table numbers on their first day is not cut out for the job, and no amount of technology can cover for that lack of ability.

I dunno, tag each table with a very short range RFID that communicates it's identifier to the pad and there you go. Perhaps combine it with a small layout w/numbers and there you go. Maybe the person is not numerically inclined, but is spacially adept. For them the map might be easier than the number.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11755858)

Um... you didn't answer the question.

All you did was list some things that could be done with this technology. You failed to identify a single problem that it solved. For example, what is problematic about waiters maintaining eye contact long enough to listen to the customer and then writing on a pad of paper with a pen? (I've always been comfortable with that, and it's not beyond the ability of a competent waiter.) Unless you're starting with an identified problem, you're not offering a solution; you're offering... something else. That's the point of asking that specific question.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 9 years ago | (#11760796)

For example, what is problematic about waiters maintaining eye contact long enough to listen to the customer and then writing on a pad of paper with a pen?

The waiter then has to go and put the order in. Which often means double-entry. And if you simply have the "pad of paper" replaced with a PDA, you either have an interruption or increased power consumption.

It isn't beyond the ability of a competent waiter to manually calculate the total for a bill, either. But electonics still can speed them up.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11765287)

The waiter then has to go and put the order in. Which often means double-entry.

But that's because there is another computer that isn't needed: the computerized register. If you don't introduce that, then the paper order can go right to the kitchen and then serve as bill and receipt. A diner usually operates in that manner. A little piece of paper that serves as order to waiter, order to kitchen, bill, receipt. Simple, elegant, non-computerized.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11822323)

But that's because there is another computer that isn't needed: the computerized register. If you don't introduce that, then the paper order can go right to the kitchen and then serve as bill and receipt. A diner usually operates in that manner. A little piece of paper that serves as order to waiter, order to kitchen, bill, receipt. Simple, elegant, non-computerized.

You forgot: cheaper, and often faster. Yes, I've dealt with both.

Re:a solution in search of an application (1)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11822239)

Imagine a restaurant where all the wait staff have glasses. They carry around a small black to "write" on,

You'd think a pad and pencil would be cheaper than giving out small blacks to your wait staff.
(it's a joke about a typo, deal with it.)

9/11 (2, Informative)

phlegm (146308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751538)

This is the guy who was detained on 9/11. He sued Air Canada claiming that he was bleeding after having his chest electrodes removed. If they are growing into your skin you might want to clean a little more. Ick

Great... (2, Insightful)

Supernoma (794214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11751997)

This is just what we need, people trying to use a computer as they DRIVE.

I mean honestly, people can't drive without distractions... and cell phones are causing huge problems, what will a computer do?

I'm staying off the roads.

Re:Great... (1)

krikat (861906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752138)

In car PC's are a reality. But having a monitor in your shades definitely isn't a great idea.

Re:Great... (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753427)

I mean honestly, people can't drive without distractions... and cell phones are causing huge problems, what will a computer do?

Cell phones are computers. You already have to worry about people surfing the web while driving--almost all modern cell phones come with a WAP browser.

Re:Great... (1)

panth0r (722550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11766035)

people can't drive without distractions Let's break this sentence down...people can NOT drive withOUT DIStractions... Okay, let's let two of those negatives cancel each other out... So we're left with: people can drive with distractions. There you go, even according to you it's possible, thanks pwned.

The reason that there are no wearables. (2, Funny)

bastardoperator (802117) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752184)

This is the reason why there are no wearable Heat problems [theregister.co.uk]

Many alternates (2, Funny)

krikat (861906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752203)

Wearables haven't become popular because the people that would possibly use wearables realized that rather than wearing an expensive computer, they can wear armor or a startrek uniform and still look like just as much of a jackass.

Niche market with little practical everyday use (1)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11752537)

Why aren't they main stream? My guess would be because there has yet to be a truely pervasive application or reason to have a wearbale computer. Sure surfing the web or playing a game at the bus stop would be need but certainly not practical. Not to mention the wireless infrasctructure is only just now starting to become widespread. A Palm Treo 650 or the like is probably pushing the current practial envelope. Regular people are even afraid of that type of device, much less a wearable desktop with a twiddler.

We already have wearable computing en masse (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753430)

It's called a Smartphone with belt clip.

www.xybernaut.com/ (2, Insightful)

yyttrrre (741310) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753460)

They exist in some capacity. This site sells a few www.xybernaut.com/ [xybernaut.com] . Looks like they even run linux!!

i don't "get" wearable computing (1)

Sick Talents (861820) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753618)

i mean, we already have it

i can put a pda in my pocket

the only thing now is the screen in the glasses and the input method and all that whacky shit

which nobody wants

because PDAs work fine

AND FUNNILY ENOUGH, JUDGING FROM THE SHARP DECLINE IN SALES, NOBODY WANTS A PDA EITHER! WEARABLE COMPUTING! FUCK YEAH!

You want a wearable computer? (1)

ebbe11 (121118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11753754)

But if you want wearable computing in 2005, it seems you must build your own system. Why, after all this time and attention, are wearables still not commercially available?

I'd say you've raised the potential market by about 10%.

As for myself, I get along very nicely with my PDA and my GSM phone.

Why? I'll tell you why. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11754194)

Why, after all this time and attention, are wearables still not commercially available?

Because its a straw man. Nobody wants to wear a frickin' computer, man!!!

Besides that, what the hell do you think this is? [apple.com]

Honest. Super-duper computer-scientist borks might like to think their pretty little electro-future is something the world 'needs', but its a load of crap.

Cyborgs are a crappy Consumerican desire!!!

Wearable - No Where Specified (2, Insightful)

Jippy T Flounder (819544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11757750)

I've been practically attached to my PC for almost 20 years now, and some of the various ailments i've developed (aside from seeing scan-lines everywhere) are with my back and neck muscles.

Wearable computing is not only about walking the streets, looking like something out of cyberpunk. It's also for those of us who'd like to use our wired stations like human beings. I'd like to be able to sit / lie down at my workstation, and not have to strain my wrists/eyes/neck/back/etc. in order to be productive.

I'd KILL for a decent headset, not too expensive, so i can dump my monitor and stare in whichever direction is most comfortable. I'd like better input so I can code without having to find the keys (I'm no touch-typist, but there are simple solutions when attached to a pair of decent, *cheap* gloves).

All these things are just as much about wearability (is that a word), and IMO more important than how far you can go. You don't need a PC while driving your car. But you do need to work comfortably.

You don't have to build your own (1)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 9 years ago | (#11759249)

The commercially available products from http://www.xybernaut.com are expensive but they do exist.

Typo! (1)

kevin-cs-edu (854636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11764829)

wearables, not whereables. wearables - 1 entry found for wearables. wearable Pronunciation Key (wâr-bl) adj. 1. Suitable for wear: wearable shoes for the summer. 2. Suitable for easy wear: wearable evening clothes. whereables - No entry found for whereables.

Re:Typo! (1)

kylegordon (159137) | more than 9 years ago | (#11765412)

I'm sure it was a 'joke' - Where are the wearables?
Whereable, wearable... Play on words, etc

i'm not convinced - wearables should be here today (2, Insightful)

bshanks (520250) | more than 8 years ago | (#11775067)

looks to me like people are saying:

1) they don't want it
2) tech isn't there yet to make it small enough

as for (1), i'm personally convinced that plenty of people will be using it once they see how convenient it makes things. everyone claims their
PDA is good enough, but i bet they don't dispense with their home computer and use their PDA full-time like we'll be able to when "full-power" wearables are eventually available. and i bet they don't constantly check the GPS on their PDA. or IM strangers in Times Square. (see http://www.headmap.org/book/manifesto/hm-blank.htm [headmap.org] and http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3...,9223 37,00.html [guardian.co.uk] )

but, besides all these "new" applications, computing will be nicer when you don't have to sit in front of the computer to do it.

however, that's a long way away; what I'd like today is just a $3000 low-resolution, slow, B&W sunglasses-embedded HMD and "virtual keyboard" (finger tracker). I do see people's point here; a PDA can do much of what this would be used for, and it would be cheaper, and color, and not feel weird. Personally, I'd shell out for the low-resolution sunglasses-enabled model and finger-tracker because the extra bandwidth (large display area (assuming the display changed when you moved your head) and large "virtual" keyboard) would allow me to do a lot of stuff "on the road" (waiting in line at the supermarket, etc) that I can't do efficiently on a tiny
PDA interface.

as for (2), i'm a little confused because, as some posters noted, corps started using cell phones before they were small. my feeling is that none by the nerdiest even think about wearable, much less realize the convenience and efficiency gains that wearables could bring. if corporations had it on their radar, I think they would buy them even now.

-- bayle
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