Line Blurring Between Portable and Wearable Computers

By Roland Piquepaille

In this article from TechNewsWorld, Jackie Fenn, a VP and fellow with Gartner Research, explains that even if there still is a clear boundary between portable and wearable computers -- she considers truly wearable devices to be completely hands-free -- it's really just a matter of time before that line gets erased.

Jackie Fenn sees greater flexibility and networked capabilities as a major component in what she sees as a new form of portable/wearable device, which will have widespread applications. "I think the mobility angle is what's driving this thing."

And she notes that the components to achieve true mobility are coming.

Hands-free headsets for cell phones and enhanced eye-wear are two likely paths to popularity for the technology, she says. And while there may be some social or cultural adjustment ahead, as new-fangled contraptions combine with everyday life, Fenn says people will adjust. She cites the case of hands-free cell phone use, in which users drew stares from bystanders who thought they were talking to themselves, she says.

She's not alone to think that wearable computing is moving into the mainstream.

"I think wearable computing is already here," says Tony Havelka, managing director for Winnipeg-based Tek Gear, a wearable device developer and reseller. While the variety of wearable gadgets "runs the gamut," Havelka predicts a rapid transition from established markets in military or industrial settings to more consumer-based applications.
Wireless capabilities -- especially those based on the Bluetooth standard -- and miniaturization make for more flexible, portable and powerful options, he says. Havelka says the market may also change, as buyers start focusing more on the bottom line, not just the technology itself, which could hurt more conventional manufacturers/It really comes down to resolving a business decision,"he says.

As an example, here is a camera developed by Tek Gear, the M1 io, which lets you "shoot what you see and see what you shoot" (Credit: Tek Gear).

The Tek Gear M1 io camera

It costs $1,700 and is available online from Tek Gear.

Source: John Saunders, TechNewsWorld, January 14, 2004; and various websites

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