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Next: The `Personal Visual Up: Introduction Previous: Introduction

Historical notes

Ivan Sutherland, a pioneer in computer graphics, described a head-mounted display with half-silvered mirrors so that the wearer could see a virtual world superimposed on reality [3] [4]. Sutherland's work, as well as more recent related work [5][6][7][8][9] is characterized by its tethered nature. The wearer is tethered to a workstation which is generally powered from an AC outlet.

In the early eighties, I began experimenting with a battery-operated wearable computer and wireless communicationsgif. However, this was not the world's first wearable computer system. Probably the world's first wearable computer system with wireless communications was that described by Bass [10], although for a much different task (that of assisting a roulette player in making calculations based on ball velocity).

My experiments in attaching computers, radio equipment, etc., to myself culminated in a tetherless system that allowed me to roam about the city, remotely controlling devices (such as electronic flash lamps planted at various locations), staying in touch through email, and a host of other things that one would normally associate with a desktop computer powered from an AC outlet. For example, I currently wear my apparatus while shopping (e.g. so that my wife can remotely look through my eyes and inspect fruits and vegetables, then email me with comments). Attitudes toward various forms of my apparatus have significantly changed over the last fifteen years. In particular, I feel that it is now possible to wear the apparatus in many everyday situations where it would have been completely out of place just a few years ago (though it would certainly still be out of place in a gambling casino or opium den). Through a combination of changes in the apparatus (its having become a little less obtrusive, thanks to improvements in technology allowing for miniaturization), and a changes in society (increase in society's acceptance of technology), it is not nearly as strange as it was just a few years ago.

Although my original goal was to build an apparatus that would function as an artist's tool for producing `lightspaces' [11], the apparatus became better known as the wearable wireless webcam, when, with the advent of the World Wide Web, I began, in 1994, exploring the use of my Web page as a means of sharing my day-to-day visual experiences with others [1].



next up previous
Next: The `Personal Visual Up: Introduction Previous: Introduction



Steve Mann
Wed Feb 14 01:19:59 EST 1996