Human Factors Problems of Wearable Computers

Human Factors Problems of Wearable Computers

Chris Barber (The University of Birmingham, UK) and James Knight (The University of Birmingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-871-0.ch010
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In this chapter wearable computers are considered from the perspective of human factors. The basic argument is that wearable computers can be considered as a form of prosthesis. In broad terms, a prosthesis could be considered in terms of replacement (i.e., for damaged limbs or organs), correction (i.e., correction to ‘normal’ vision or hearing with glasses or hearing aids), or enhancement of some capability. Wearable computers offer the potential to enhance cognitive performance and as such could act as cognitive prosthesis, rather than as a physical prosthesis. However, wearable computers research is still very much at the stage of determining how the device is to be added to the body and what capability we are enhancing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Form-Factor: The overall size (and shape) of a device

Comfort: Subjective response to wearing a wearable computer (ranging from physical loading to embarrassment)

Sensors: Devices that produce digital output in response to some change in a measured parameter, for example dependent on environmental change or on user activity

Activity Models: Predictive models of human activity, based on sensor data

Augmentation Means: Devices that can augment human bevaior—a term coined by Doug Engelbart, and covering: Tools & Artifacts: the technologies that we use to work on the world which supplement, complement or extend our physical or cognitive abilities; Praxis: the accumulation and exploitation of skills relating to purposeful behavior in both work and everyday activity; Language: the manipulation and communication of concepts; Adaptation: the manner in which people could (or should) adapt their physical and cognitive activity to accommodate the demands of technology.

Context-Awareness: The capability of a device to respond appropriately to changes in a person’s activity, environment, and so forth.

Wearable Computers: Devices worn on the person that provided personalized, context-relevant information

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