DONNING YOUR PC:
Soon You Will Be Able to Wear Your Computer
March 31, 2000
Mobile information terminals, such as notebook computers, are already a familiar sight. Now a wearable computer that can be attached to the user's body is under development. The first such product was nothing more than a personal organizer in the form of a wristwatch, but recently wearable computers have appeared with the same capabilities as a notebook computer and movie quality that surpasses that of televisions.
It Started as a Wristwatch
The first product in this vein to be developed in Japan was a wristwatch-style mobile terminal that went on sale in summer 1998. Its face is a square liquid crystal display, and it is equipped with a port for connecting to a computer as well as an infrared receiver. With a maximum memory capacity of two megabytes, it can be used as a personal organizer, as a watch, and for processing files, playing games, and viewing pictures. The manufacturer emphasizes that "strapping the device to your wrist means you don't have to carry it around, so you won't easily misplace it."
The manufacturer believes the device will be useful in such operations as factory maintenance checks, gas and water meter reading, airplane maintenance, and the installing of electricity cables. Such tasks usually require a voluminous manual of procedures, but if a wearable computer were used to display the procedures instead, the worker would be able to use both hands freely, thus improving efficiency.
Technologies for the Disabled
As for products aimed at the hearing impaired, the computer industry is pursuing the development of more user-friendly functions, including the ability to input using sign language.
While the race for higher-performing hardware and software is set to continue, the industry is now facing up to a new challenge--that of offering a broader choice in the shape and form of computers to suit various people's needs. It appears that there are still many miles left to travel along the road of computer development.
Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.