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Draft - cnr 11/9/99
In this paper we present a vision of how Wearable Computing may be used in the future. Also described is a robust demonstration configuration using the Bristol Wearable Computer.
The key to this vision is an appropriately located device which repeatedly generates a local pointer to a rich source of data. This pointer is followed by the wearable computer and as a result the user is presented with timely and relevant information. We envisage an environment which is populated with such devices facilitating ready access to information about nearby people, places and services.
As part of the Bristol Wearable Computing Initiative we have built two fully operational examples of this model - the Tourist Jacket and the Shopping Jacket. These are briefly described here along with other potential applications using the same model.
The tourist application is designed as a virtual tour guide, giving information on points of interest at relevant contexts. The Tourist information is downloaded to the jacket prior to the tour. In this example the device generating the pointer is the Global Positioning Satellite system. By comparing the positional data from a GPS receiver with a database of interesting locations e.g. museums, memorials etc, matches can be found which signal that specific associated information - web pages - should be displayed to the user on a wirelessly linked Jornada palmtop.
A Pinger (or Beacon) transmitting the IP address of a nearby shop enables the shop's web-site to be automatically contacted via a GSM 'phone. A shopping list (stored on the wearable computer), along with the GPS co-ordinates of the jacket (to identify the branch), is sent to a server containing the stocklist of the particular branch. A search of the stock is carried out to discover if the shop has any items of interest. If a match is achieved the user is alerted and the results of the search are sent for display on the palmtop.
In this example the Pinger is housed in a badge worn by anybody wishing to be recognised by another user of a wearable computer. Two users of wearable computers could then exchange contact details by 'pinging' the URLs of their respective contact.html files to each other. If these files were to also contain other personal data such as "squash player" or "golf handicap : 10", the wearable computer could suggest common interests which the users may wish to follow up.
In the interactive cafe the Pinger directs the wearable computer to the cafe web site which is then displayed on the palmtop. The cafe menu can then be viewed by the user and an order placed via the internet. While waiting for the meal to be prepared, brief details about other users of the cafe (with Active Badges) can be displayed and conversations struck up between lone diners - of course the badge can be switched off for intimacy.
Data displays already provide information to passengers waiting for buses and trains. However these are expensive and are susceptible to breakdown and vandalism. A Pinger system with solar powered Pingers located at bus stops or train stations could provide ready access to arrival/wait/departure times via related URLs. Indeed, once the URL has been stored, the user can easily refer back to it to find out if there is time for another cup of the cafe's refreshing tea to be ordered, and another not-so-chance conversation struck up, before going to catch a bus.
The diagram below gives an overview of the architecture required to combine all of these applications :
In an exhibiton environment there may be significant (and uncontrollable) interference from other electromagnetic sources (e.g. walkie-talkies, other demonstrations), and mobile telephone communication is likely to be unreliable (a high density of users in an area which may not be equipped for heavy traffic). GPS will not function indoors, and special licences may also be required for the radio frequencies we are using. A full demonstration would also require the user to move between various areas e.g. tourist location to shop to cafe. The demonstration version of our architecture is unlikely to be reliable if it uses wireless communication, and it must be capable of operating in a small area. A completely self-contained design is thus proposed.
The pingers/beacons/GPS/badges are simulated by using a switch unit hidden in the demonstrator's pocket. The switches are connected by wire to the wearable computer which matches the switch pressed to an URL/html file and makes a request to the computer's proxy server. The relevant web-page (stored in the computer) is sent to the Jornada to be displayed, again by a discrete cable connection.
This simple configuration enables the demonstrator to illustrate the concepts described in this vision and is represented in the diagram below :
The Demo pages
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Last updated: January 14, 2000.
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