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Get yourself connected: Google Glass and the Internet of Bling


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A talk given to Worthing Digital group on the rainy night of October 22cnd 2013.
It is an introductory level talk on wearable computing devices and technology. The aim is to raise awareness of this increasingly important topic.
It examines the history of wearable device technology and provides some case studies of current products (The Lume Collection, Pebble Smartwatch, Fitbit, Google Glass).
It then considers how these devices and technologies may be linked together into a coherent, ultimately participating in the "device cloud" that is known as the Internet of Things.
It speculates as to the the social and cultural impact of the mass adoption of wearable technology. It explores this through a scenario called the Internet of Bling.

A video of the presentation session will be made available on the Worthing Digital website in the near future.

Published in: Technology, Business
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Get yourself connected: Google Glass and the Internet of Bling

  1. 1. 1 Get Yourself Connected: Google Glasses and the Internet of Bling
  2. 2. 2 A talk given to Worthing Digital group by Bill Harpley October 22cnd 2013
  3. 3. 3 About this presentation • This talk is about how people can use wearable computing devices to augment their physical and sensory capabilities  We will look at a range of current developments in the field of wearable computing devices (and how they can be networked together)  We will take a glimpse of how technology, culture and marketing may influence the development of these new products • Why should you care? Understanding these technologies and trends may help you to spot new business opportunities in the future
  4. 4. 4 WEARABLE COMPUTERS History and current state of the art
  5. 5. 5 What is a wearable computer? • Conventional view is that it is a computational and/or sensory device that is worn about the body. • It may be worn underneath clothing in direct contact with the skin • It may be worn on top of clothing in indirect contact with the skin • It may be implanted into the body (medical applications) • It tends to have a specialised function (but recent developments such as Smartphones and pocket-sized Tablets challenge this view)
  6. 6. 6 Context of use • Examples of context in which wearable computers may be used: • Monitor physiological activity (e.g. heart-beats) • Monitor physical activity (e.g. steps walked today) • Provide enhanced/substitute physical capability (e.g. 3D augmented vision) • Provide a decorative function (think „bling‟) • Determine geographic location (view on a digital map)
  7. 7. 7 A brief history of wearable devices • The idea of wearable devices to augment personal capabilities is not new. Examples: • „Abacus beads‟ were worn in late medieval period (helped people with counting tasks) • Mechanical pocket watches were invented in the 16th century became popular from early 19th century ( helped people track passage of time) • Reading glasses were in use in China, India and Europe by the late 13th century (aid to reading)
  8. 8. 8 1960s: the dawn of wearable computers • Story of wearable computing devices begins in the 1960s. Examples: • 1960: the musician and scientist Manfred Clynes coined the word Cyborg , meaning a human whose physical/cognitive ability was enhanced by possession of „smart‟ attached devices • 1961: two mathematicians Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon developed small timing devices which (it is claimed) gave the wearer the capability to cheat at roulette. One device was embedded into a shoe and the other inserted into a packet of cigarettes (worn about the body) • MIT timeline for history of wearable devices:
  9. 9. 9 The rise of the wearable computer • PHOTO (right) : Steve Mann – “Father of the Wearable Computer” • Professor at University of Toronto • Active in field since late 1970s • Profile on Wikipedia: • Key thinker on wearable computers (in particular wearable computer vision systems)
  10. 10. 10 Steve Mann: evolution of concept
  11. 11. 11 General evolution since 1980s Significant research began in 1980s and has gathered pace ever since. Examples: • Multi-function digital wrist-watches • Head-mounted displays • Wrist-computers • Portable music players • Electronic textiles (“e-textiles” used in hi-tech fashion garments) • Physical/emotional wellbeing monitors • Necklace which changed colour from red/blue ( stimulated by response of nervous system for the subject via a physical sensor implant)
  12. 12. 12 Application domains • Huge range of applications for wearable computing devices. Examples:  Military (major player in wearable technology research)  Medical sector  Consumer products  Sports equipment • Range of applications limited only by your own imagination!
  13. 13. 13 Commercial success has been elusive • Wearable computers have enjoyed success mainly niche markets • Many companies have attempted to develop wearable computer products for the mainstream consumer market (Sony, Seiko, Timex, Panasonic, Apple) but few have had any notable success. • Consumers have been lukewarm towards the idea  But is that all about to change?  Smartphones and Tablets have made people more receptive to idea of wearable/portable computers  Products becoming cheaper, easier to use and more appealing to consumers  ABI Research report (February 2013) predicted that there will be 485 million annual shipments of wearable computing devices by 2018
  14. 14. 14 CASE STUDIES Examples of products which have captured the imagination
  15. 15. 15 Example: The Lume Collection • The Lume collection has won numerous design awards (2012-2013) • Example of “e-fabrics” which embed flexible electronics into the fabric • Allows the colour of the garment to be changed using a smartphone app • Harbinger of new age of “digital couture”? ( )
  16. 16. 16 Example: Pebble SmartWatch • In 2012, Pebble Technology raised more than $10 million dollars from 70,000 investors on Kickstarter • Crowdfunding has been a game-changer for startup companies • Features include: • Range of apps (e.g. fitness, mail notifications, music control) • Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity • 3D accelerometer (detect motion) • ~ 90,000 units sold to date • Current competitors include Sony and Samsung • Rumours that Apple and Google may enter the smartwatch market
  17. 17. 17 Example: Fitbit health monitors • Tapped into important social trend! • Range of fitness and wellbeing devices designed to monitor:     physical fitness healthy eating weight management Sleep patterns • Upload your data from the bracelet and monitor your progress via an app • Interesting example of business model innovation-- offer a Premium subscription service which provides a more personalised experience (e.g. „Rank Yourself Against Your Peers‟) • Implicitly part of the Quantified Self movement ( ) – “Self knowledge through numbers.” http//
  18. 18. 18 Example: Google Glass (1 of 3) • Hailed as „revolutionary‟: in fact it is an evolutionary step which builds on work of Steve Mann and other researchers in the field of wearable computerised vision • Amazing range of capabilities:  Take a photo(hands-free)  Record a video (hands-free)  Share what you can see with remote friends  Show directions (display route on the Glass screen)  Ask Glass a question (search for facts)
  19. 19. 19 Example: Google Glass (2 of 3) • Image (right) is screen capture of video which shows user menu projected on the interior corner of the glass lens • Key technical specs:     Android operating system Voice activation Camera/video inbuilt Bluetooth/WiFi connectivity (phone must support Bluetooth tethering)  Bone transducer audio (skull used as “soundbox”) • Google Glass applications (Glassware) are free applications built by 3rd party developers. + Check out the numerous videos on YouTube
  20. 20. 20 Example: Google Glass (3 of 3) • Google Glass has attracted a great deal of controversy • Like many breakthrough products it has its dark side • Examples of concerns: • Privacy (you can be photographed / filmed without your knowledge or consent) • Dubious legality in certain states (e.g. Ukraine) • Facilitation of criminal activities (e.g. fraud) • Display of pornography • Public safety (e.g. while driving) • Data security (e.g. user photographs malicious QR code) • Search Google with phrase „google glass criticism‟ to learn more
  21. 21. 21 PHYSICAL ENHANCEMENTS Faster, stronger, smarter
  22. 22. 22 Powered Exo-skeletons • Powered frame which includes motors and hydraulics – intended to boost strength and endurance • Military are big players in R&D as a soldier would be able to carry more weight in combat situations (e.g. more weapons and armour) – Photo top right • Medical applications include helping people with spinal injuries – Photo bottom right
  23. 23. 23 Smart Prosthetics (artificial limbs) • Modern prosthetics may be considered wearable computational devices • May have built in: • Onboard microcontrollers + software • Force/movement/acceleration sensors • There exist Smart limbs which can sense the user‟s environment and predict how a user may behave • Example: bionic hand which provides user with tactile feedback (PHOTO Top Right EU „Smart Hand‟ project ) • Innovations include monitoring via mobile app (IMAGE bottom Right is Galileo app from Orthocare Innovations re.micro/index.html )
  24. 24. 24 Flexible Electronic Circuits • Flexible electronic circuits are not a new idea • Current technology allows them to be miniaturised and made ultra-thin (Photo on right) • Applications include: • woven into fabrics (e.g. a jacket which could function as a heartbeat monitor) • implanted into the body • wrapped around limbs
  25. 25. 25 E-skin ( 1 of 2) • Example: the E-Skin Project (Switzerland) “The e-Skin project aims at developing a novel type of wearable interface which mimics the sensory capabilities of the human skin. The interface consists of a multi-layered flexible hightech textile and senses stimuli both on its outside and inside surface. At the same time the interface possesses actuation mechanisms to provide tactile feedback through its inside and outside surfaces.” • Potentially all kinds of medical and cosmetic applications A number of research groups around the world aim to develop “bionic skin”.
  26. 26. 26 E-skin (2 of 2) • Berkeley University in U.S. recently announced a flexible e-skin which lights up when touched • Applications include robotics and medicine • Question: could it be transformed into wearable bling? /21/first-interactive-e-skin-built-onplastic/
  27. 27. 27 THE CONNECTED SELF Everything is connected
  28. 28. 28 Get yourself connected • So far we have considered devices in isolation • But we now need to ask: • How can we connect these devices to they communicate with each other and interact with services on the Internet? • What are the possible consequences of doing this? • The remaining slides in this section will attempt to answer some of these questions
  29. 29. 29 Personal Area Networks (PANs) • These are personal networks which operate within a limited geographical range (typically 10m radius) • PAN is a communications network used to facilitate communications between personal computational devices such as a phone , tablet, PDA, computer, wearable devices.  Communication can occur between participating devices or resources on the Internet can be access via a local uplink connection (fixed or mobile)  Employs short-range low-power wireless communications technologies such as Infra-red (Irda), Bluetooth, Zigbee, Body Area Nets  Geeks only: PANs based on IEEE 802.15 standards • Wearable computing devices can potentially communicate:  With other computing devices that are worn about the person  With services on the Internet  Google image search for „personal area networks‟ will provide you with much inspiration
  30. 30. 30 Wireless Body Area Networks (WBANs) • Consider this as a special case of a WPAN • Utilises only devices which are attached (or in very close proximity) to the body • Can use WPAN wireless technologies (e.g. Bluetooth) to connect to services on Internet via a local gateway router (broadband or mobile network) • Main application is currently in Medicine • Patient wears sensors (e.g. heart monitor) which may be attached internally or implanted into the body • Monitoring can be performed locally or remotely via Internet • Geeks only: IEEE 802.15.6 Wireless Body Area Networks
  31. 31. 31 WBANs (continued) • A sample of Google image search on „wireless area body networks‟ – most relate to medical applications
  32. 32. 32 Intrabody Communications • Method of communication which exploits the fact that the human body can conduct electricity • Allows devices to communicate using body as transmission medium  Devices attached to body can communicate via ultra-low voltage signals  Remotely at a distance of 0.5m (“contactless” communication similar to RFID) • Photo shows a door access control mechanism (created by company called Skinplex)
  33. 33. 33 Near-me Networks (NANs) • This is a special type of logical network that is only used by services which depend on people being in a similar location (e.g. within a radius of half mile) • Often used GPS enabled devices such as smartphones to communicate via mobile networks (GSM, 3G, 4G) • Example: I am planning to hold a party at my place on Saturday night and I use a service to invite everybody in my neighbourhood (via a Near-me network)
  34. 34. 34 The Internet of Things • OED definition: “A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.” • Simply put -- Everything is Connected – every type of electronic device could be connected to the Internet • This could include the type of products that have been discussed in this presentation • Internet could consist of literally many billions of connected devices (the “device cloud”) • Huge subject of growing importance (but no time to cover in detail today)
  35. 35. 35 THE INTERNET OF BLING The rise of Cyberpunk fashion
  36. 36. 36 Assert your Digital Identity • Technology has always had the power to create social status, foster individual identity and influence social interactions • Example: the widespread adoption of mobile phones and social media has had a huge impact on people‟s lives • Mass adoption of low-cost wearable computing devices, connected via the Internet of Things is likely to drive similar cultural and social changes • Welcome to the Internet of Bling! A scenario which shows the interplay between technology, culture and the power of marketing
  37. 37. 37 E-textiles (revisited) • We have already seen one example in the Lume Collection • Here is another example to excite the digital fashionistas in the audience • But will it ever become mainstream?
  38. 38. 38 Wearable Electronic Jewellery • Electronic Pendants such as one in photo on the right produce beautiful patterns on an LCD screen • Geeks only: patterns generated by cellular automaton (as used in famous „Game of Life‟) • But would you wear one or buy one as a gift?
  39. 39. 39 Digital headwear • Adafruit is a spin-off from MIT in the U.S. founded by Limor Fried (photo below) • Company has created a series of wearable „bling‟ products including earrings and the „Space Face‟ headwear shown in photo on the right.
  40. 40. 40 Time for some fun! What to wear in 2025 • Let us assume that „Pogue‟ is a • • • • best-selling women‟s fashion magazine in 2025. What would the cover look like? What will the best-dressed models be wearing?  E-skin (“must-have” accessory)  Clothes made from e-textiles  Digital jewellery (all the rage!)  Wearable computing devices Any of these could conceivably be connected to Internet of Things in some way! Of course this is all fantasy but who can predict how technology may shape culture? And never underestimate the power of marketing!
  41. 41. 41 ENDGAME Some final thoughts and conclusions
  42. 42. 42 Challenges ahead Major challenges to implementing the “device cloud” of wearable personal and mobile devices • Technical: need for widespread rollout of next generation • • • • of IP protocol (IPv6) Energy: millions of devices would collectively consume a lot of energy (so need for ultra-low power) Security: how do you secure your wearable computing devices from theft/hacking/malware, etc. ? Privacy: some services may wish to gather and aggregate data collected from your wearable/mobile devices. Who owns/controls this data? Sustainability: what happens to the millions of devices produced? Are they destined for landfill? Time to take „Design for Environment‟ practices seriously!
  43. 43. 43 Conclusions 1. We may be on the cusp of the next wave of digital innovation, centred around wearable / mobile devices 2. We have looked at some interesting case studies and seen how crowd-funding, business model innovation, new technologies and involvement of major players (e.g. Google) has made concepts such as Wearable Computers and the Internet of Things a tangible reality 3. We have looked at the „Internet of Bling‟ as a plausible scenario of how technology can shape culture (and vice versa), aided by the power of marketing 4. When wearable computing devices become integrated with social media in the same way as smartphones and tablets, things could start to get really interesting!
  44. 44. 44 Spot the connection? Digital Age culture Stone Age culture • Both images look equally primal  LEFT advert for Apple iPod ( ~2006)  RIGHT prehistoric cave painting from Tanzania (~ 30,000 years ago) • You could almost take the earplugs from the figure on the Left, reach across time, and give them to the figure on the Right • The connection between them is that the lives of both are products of the technology and culture of their times.
  45. 45. 45 Any questions? How to get in touch @billharpley Bill Harpley
  46. 46. 46 Further Resources This is just a sample of the vast amount of information that is out there relating to „wearable devices‟, „wearable computers‟ and „wearable technology‟. Use these as a starting point for your further exploration of the topic. Also, take time out to explore videos on You Tube. Wikipedia Wearable Computers, Steve Mann My “Augmediated” Life , Steve Mann‟s blog, Steve Mann Wearable Computing, Chapter 23 in „The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2cnd ed.‟ , Mashable, Wearable Devices, Mashable, Wearable Technology, MIT Media Lab, Wearable Computing, Wearable Technologies, Wearable Devices Magazine, (aims to start publication November 2013),