Wearable Technologies in Academic Information Search

Wearable Technologies in Academic Information Search

Robert Gibson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5484-4.ch029
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Wearable technologies and appliances are making inroads into a variety of consumer and commercial applications, including leisure and entertainment, health care, and gaming. A natural evolution of the technology is in academe where faculty and students have begun exploring the possibilities of the technology in a variety of settings, most visibly in libraries where the process of seeking information using such devices holds significant promise. This chapter provides an inventory of the state of wearable technology, its challenges, its possibilities, and how it might be used in academe, including a study regarding the ability to access common library indexes using two wearable appliances: Google Glass and a smart watch.
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…wearable technology is not limited to just the wrist. There's a whole lot more. The whole sensor field is going to explode. It's a little all over the place right now. With the arc of time, it will become clearer. - Tim Cook, Apple CEO



Wearable technologies are broadly defined as unobtrusive, miniaturized sensors attached directly to the body or garments. These sensors can even be embedded directly into the fabric of garments (Bonato, 2005). In recent years wearable technologies have become part of the larger ontology called The Internet of Things (IoT) which is broadly defined as a world of connected devices, objects, vehicles, machines, consumer durables, clothing, and other components all hooked to a network (Kranenburg, Anzelmo, Caprio & Dodson, 2011).

Increasingly, more people are acquiring and using wearable technologies and appliances; however exact adoption metrics remain elusive given its relatively recent introduction into the consumer market. In fact, EDUCAUSE (2013) still considers wearable technology “experimental”. Perhaps the best evidence regarding adoption metrics are provided by Mary Meeker from Columbia University who provides a macro snapshot of growth rates as of 2013 (Figure 1). Cisco, Inc. forecasts there will be more than 50 billion such devices connected to the Internet in just five years (Evans, 2011). ABI Research has indicated the wearable computing device market will grow to an astounding 485 million annual device shipments by 2018 (OPC, 2014). Forbes magazine projects by 2017 the revenue from these devices will exceed $20B (Sabhlok, 2013) making this a very lucrative growth market.

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