Design Con 2015

Getting ready for wearable embedded computing

August 11, 2014

Bernard Cole-August 11, 2014

As noted in this week's Embedded Tech Focus newsletter, for at least five years wearable computing has been an area of intense research. Investigators have brought together wireless networking, sensors, mobile systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and small footprint microcontrollers (MCUs) to create wearable personal computing devices that help us navigate our world, do ordinary tasks, and assist the sick, elderly, and disabled.

But it has only been within the last year that interest in wearable devices has reached a fever pitch in consumer electronics. As Jennifer Colegrove of Touch Display Research is points out in "Wearable devices: 7 factors to stand out from the crowd," mobile phone and dedicated consumer device makers are already poised to flood the market with a first generation of wearable computing devices.

Partly, their focus on wearables is due to the fact that the market for mobile/smartphone devices is saturated. They need to grow or die. The increased attention to wearables is also due to the fact that consumer wearables are often part of the IoT, the potential of which dwarfs that of the mobile phone.

If you want to participate in the first wave of wearable IoT devices - and/or prepare for the second wave - there are several resources you can use to gain insight and training in the marketing, business, and technical issues involved.

First up, be sure to register to attend the UBM Tech Designers of Things Conference, Sept. 23-24, 2014, in San Francisco, where there will be 35 presentations in the separate wearables and Internet of Things tracks. Presentations at the top of my must-see list include: Evolution of technologies for wearable devices, Low power design for wearable tech, and Wireless connectivity and wearables.

A second opportunity to get up to speed in this new area of embedded system development comes a week later, at Oracle's JavaOne Conference, Sept. 28 - Oct. 2, 2014, also in San Francisco. It will have an IoT track of about 90 papers, of which about a dozen are on the use of the Java platform in wearable devices. My pick of must see presentations here include: Going Wearable: Java, Raspberry Pi, and Cool Peripherals; Using Java on Wearable Devices Featuring a Hybrid Architecture; and Catch Me If You Can: Java on Wearables.

The third opportunity is the UBM Tech 2014 ARM Technical Conference in Santa Clara, Ca., a week later (Oct. 1 - 3, 2014), where there will be several wearable IoT related presentations including: What's Next For Sensor Hubs: Mobile, Wearables and Beyond; Wireless Sensor Contextual Computing; and Real-Time 3D Object Recognition.

Embedded.com  (of course) is your ultimate resource for hard-edged technically gritty design advice on wearables and IoT. In addition to keeping track of educational opportunities at various conferences, we have been tracking, publishing and providing access to everything related to designing and debugging IoT-driven wearable systems. A selection of the many articles published on this topic is included in this week's Tech Focus newsletter. My Editor's Top Picks are:

A miniature wearable device for ubiquitous computing environments
An around device interaction (ADI) prototype, Pingu uses a finger as the mechanism by which people can interact with any nearby computing device with wireless connectivity.

A Wearable Device for One-Handed Microinteractions
PinchWatch is a one-handed device with a wrist-worn display on which users invoke functions by pinching, and enter parameters by sliding or dialing motions with the thumb on the palm.

Connecting Devices, Objects and People seamlessly
Details on the design of a SmartFinger prototype that provides visual information to connect devices, objects, and people using a finger-worn camera to capture images from a user's surroundings.

Optimal design for symbiotic wearable wireless sensors
An analysis of the health and safety requirements of wearable sensors embedded in jewelry, piercings, or contact lenses, some of which may be non-intuitive and involve estimation of hard-to-derive human physiological dynamics.

Also included in this week's Tech Focus newsletter is a roundup of recent wearable product and technology news and analysis. We look upon Embedded.com as your embedded design community resource and welcome your participation by submitting blogs and opinion, design articles, personal product how-to’s and news articles. I also welcome your participation by leaving comments on the site on articles you have read. Or contact me directly by email or phone and we can work together to get your point of view published.

Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to bccole@acm.org, or call 928-525-9087.

See more articles and column like this one on Embedded.com. Sign up for subscriptions and newsletters. Copyright © 2014 UBM--All rights reserved.

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