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The MIT Wearable Computing Web Page [1] is the best single source. Has anybody here tried the combination wearable computer with local and remote wikis? -- FridemarPache

What kind of wearable devices exist? Palm devices aren't really "wearable," but I guess we can include them. And cellphones. In theory I can view a wiki with my cell, but it's such a pain that I don't bother. Actually, I tried reading MeatballWiki from my cell for a while but it didn't work. -- SunirShah

Palms are not wearable. WearableComputing refers to computers attached to a person or their attire. Typically a belt unit (cpu, disk, power), a handheld input device (one handed keyboard - Twiddler being the most popular) and a display - either a small screen strapped to a forearm or a headmounted display. Can be made for $1000, or bought for several times that.

Because of limitations on displays, most people use a text interface on their wearable - 15-20 lines, 40-60 columns because the displays don't have enough resolution for 640x480 or 80x25. Some people have hacked graphic overlays - one eye sees the screen, with lines and markup, the other looks at something. Useful for overlaying diagrams and troubleshooting info while looking at real world equipment.

Other people use wearables for continual computer access - taking notes, email, looking up info. Since you don't have to even turn your head to access the computer, you can be attentively watching a speaker while jotting down notes - or reading your email.

Others have have rigged cameras and use their wearables to take pictures - which can be uploaded via cell-modem. They believe this will enhance personal security (don't mug someone who can instantly send a picture of you to the police...) and impinge on privacy (you're always in front of a camera) --ErikDeBill

See http://www.ibutton.com/ibuttons/index.html for some real hardware.

I remember reading a story in Wired once. It was a report from the future written by Bruce Sterling. Part of the story was that someone, a biker, held the computer home of an online community in the saddlebag of his bike. He was travelling through a small Texas town when he was arrested for vagrancy and shot while trying to escape. The members of that online community promptly bought the town and kicked the population out.

However, I don't think there's anything associated with WearableComputing that works well in WikiWorld (wearers-POV video and audio, or at least occasional wearers-POV JPGs, don't mean much in this text-dominated community), and the hanging-points of WearableComputing (inconsistant electricity and connectivity) don't fit well in the server-bound world of Wikis. They make different computers for a reason. --DaveJacoby

Most of the users on the wearables list are actually using nothing but text mode - no problem there. Current wireless internet access is slow, so browsing through wiki is slow, but that will only improve. I really see no reason why wearables can't be part of an online community.

Probably the number one reason why people were using wearables (a couple years ago when I was reading the list) was to get their email all the time. Other uses got a lot of banner time, but I really got the impression that the most common use was to read/write email, with jotting quick notes and looking things up coming second. Connectivity to others was the main reason the things were used.

As for power, these people were getting >8 hours of battery life on their custom rigs, and current draw was so low that a reasonably large cap could sustain the system while they changed batteries - no downtime while switching them out. Really very slick. About the only real problem for wikis would be the connection charges on a cell modem.

I can certainly see that point, and have no problem with people reading and writing wiki stuff from whatever client they wish. I just don't see the point of a BackpackWiki?.

I can sympathize, however, with reading email on the go. That's why I got a Palm, and that is why I want WirelessEthernet for my HandspringVisor?, and a GSM phone for same. A persistant connection and a heads-up display would be perhaps a bit much (Email is cool because it is asynchronous, people! If you want SynchronousCommunication?, there's ICQ! AIM! The telephone!)

But subject that to a T1-full barrage of IP traffic for a while and the battery life drops, I'm sure. And a minor accident would take down the whole Wiki. I am a fan of PortableComputing? (not yet WearableComputing, but give me time), but PortedServer?s seems a silly, bad idea. PortableServer?s are fine, as the only advantage of a server that's big is that it is more difficult to steal, but my servers seem to like knowing where their bits and volts are coming from, with as little potential energy as possible. And in a highly-networked environment, where the server is shouldn't matter. (WilliamGibson imagined large amounts of computer capacity and storage in large orbital slabs, accessable via computer networks.) I like ThickClients and PeerToPeer, but not everything should be run in my backpack. -- DaveJacoby



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