Wearable and Mobile Devices
Sara Freitas (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK) and Mark Levene (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2006
Information and Communication Technologies, known as ICT, have undergone dramatic changes in the last 25 years. The 1980s was the decade of the Personal Computer (PC), which brought computing into the home and, in an educational setting, into the classroom. The 1990s gave us the World Wide Web (the Web), building on the infrastructure of the Internet, which has revolutionized the availability and delivery of information. In the midst of this information revolution, we are now confronted with a third wave of novel technologies (i.e., mobile and wearable computing), where computing devices already are becoming small enough so that we can carry them around at all times, and, in addition, they have the ability to interact with devices embedded in the environment. The development of wearable technology is perhaps a logical product of the convergence between the miniaturization of microchips (nanotechnology) and an increasing interest in pervasive computing, where mobility is the main objective. The miniaturization of computers is largely due to the decreasing size of semiconductors and switches; molecular manufacturing will allow for “not only molecular-scale switches but also nanoscale motors, pumps, pipes, machinery that could mimic skin” (Page, 2003, p. 2). This shift in the size of computers has obvious implications for the human-computer interaction introducing the next generation of interfaces. Neil Gershenfeld, the director of the Media Lab’s Physics and Media Group, argues, “The world is becoming the interface. Computers as distinguishable devices will disappear as the objects themselves become the means we use to interact with both the physical and the virtual worlds” (Page, 2003, p. 3). Ultimately, this will lead to a move away from desktop user interfaces and toward mobile interfaces and pervasive computing.