Over the past few decades, digital technological advances and innovation brought with it the advent of the desktop computer. Desktop computers serve as all-purpose information appliance for a wide range of devices such as answer machines, faxes, television and telephones. They have also automated a wide range of tasks which would otherwise be time consuming. However, they are confined to the desk and are not available for most part of the user’s day. In this way, a new type of technology is set to dominate the future. The need for the creation of computers which can assist users more consistently, continuously and in an intelligent manner has paved the way for development of wearable technology.
Developments in Mechanical Engineering, more specifically within Mechatronics, have made it possible to produce tech gadgets which are more adaptable to user’s behaviour. For instance, body-worn computer tech is capable of adapting its behaviour to the user’s changing environment through a wide range of applications which are context and location specific. Wearable tech with suitable sensors can be embedded in user’s clothes and gather surrounding information which can then be intelligently analyzed in order to predict behaviour or the amount of computing resources required for future tasks. For instance, Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology which is capable of acting as a human-computer interface through sophisticated 3D graphics. AR’s ultimate goal is to show virtual objects in the real world.
It is now a possibility that AR glasses and AR eye’s bio-lens will replace smart phones. These devices are designed to obey voice commands and use small screens. Wearable technology in the form of AR glasses have generated considerable media interest, especially through the much-anticipated advent of Google Glass. This wearable piece of tech has the ability to display data within the peripheral field of view by overlaying digital and natural reality in one single interface. It does so through an optical head mounted display (OHMD). Google Glass is also capable of taking pictures, recording video, send text messages, perform searches and make phone calls. It is can also execute a wide range of other GPS and Wi-Fi based functions. This type of wearable technology does not create a completely virtual environment. Instead, it constitutes a “middle ground” between real and Virtual Reality (VR), since that it displays virtual objects in a real environment. Google Glass could also have important applications to health care. For instance, pictures and video are thought to be of good quality enough to be used in doctor-patient remote consultation and to stream live videos into lecture rooms where medical students can watch surgical procedures. Broadly speaking Google Glass is a virtual reality “in your face”, and in addition to the aforementioned advantages it is also a private and discrete gadget.
It should be evident that wearable technology is rapidly progressing towards increasing the association between graphics and text with physical objects and location. Thus, future of Mechatronics and wearable technology lies on its ability to become more intuitive and to accurately analyse users’ behaviour and predict subsequent actions. Furthermore, as human-computer interfaces become more sophisticated through AR, users will be able to engage the virtual world with increased efficiency whilst simultaneously being fully aware of their surroundings.
By Mauro Ramos Pereira
By James Wise