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`Smart Clothing': Wearable Multimedia Computing and `Personal Imaging' to Restore the Technological Balance Between People and Their Environments

   author = "Mann, Steve",
   title = "`Smart Clothing': Wearable Multimedia and `Personal Imaging'
             to restore the balance between people and
             their intelligent environments",
   pages = "163--174",
   month = "Nov. 18-22",
   year = 1996,
   address = "Boston, MA",
   publisher = "Proceedings, {ACM} Multimedia 96"
Steve Mann
At time of article: MIT Building E15-389;
Currently: University of Toronto
10 King's College Road, Room 2001,
Tel. (416) 946-3387; Fax. (416) 971-2326


Current portable computers and PDAs fail to truly become part of our daily lives in the sense that we need to stop what we are doing and expend conscious effort to use them. They also do not have the situational awareness that they should have: while they are not being explicitly used, they are unable to remain attentive to possible ways to help the user.

Environmental technology in the form of ubiquitous computing, ubiquitous surveillance, and smart spaces, has attempted to bring multimedia computing seamlessly into our daily lives, promising a future world with cameras and microphones everywhere, connected to invisible computing, always attentive to our every movement or conversation. This raises some serious privacy issues. Even if we ignore these issues, there is still a problem of user-control, customization, and reliance on an infrastructure that will not (and probably should not) become totally ubiquitous.

In response to these problems, a personal, wearable, multimedia computer, with head-mounted camera(s)/display, sensors, etc. is proposed for use in day-to-day living within the surrounding social fabric of the individual. Examples of practical uses include: face identification (memory aid for names), way-finding via sequences of freeze-frames, shared visual memory/environment maps, and other personal note-taking together with visual images.

Anecdotal personal experiences, over several years of use, are reported, and privacy issues are addressed, in particular, with a discussion of how personal `smart clothing' has counteracted or at least reached a healthy balance with environmental surveillance.

KEYWORDS augmented reality, mediated reality, ubiquitous computing, smart spaces, video surveillance, mobile multimedia, wearable computing, personal imaging, video orbits, pencigraphic image compositing.

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