Head-worn displays still being worked on …

During the Tech Boom there were numerous companies and people working on Head-Mounted displays.  As a dealer for Xybernaut, one of the only dedicated wearable computer vendors at the time, I bought a nice unit from Olympus.  It was one of a very small lot of units, and was built to integrate into the Xybernaut units.  I used it for a lot of my WarBlading efforts … our “war driving” on roller blades.  🙂

Shimadzu is one of the vendors who has persisted in this space … they have always had an impressive (yet costly) solution.  Their Data Glass 2/A has some impressive specs, and I can’t wait to see exactly what the Data Glass 3 will be!

What got my started looking at this again was a post I read that lead me to some more current research.  I came across this web page by Ozan Cakmakci who designed a new head-worn display, and wrote some papers about them.  It’s cool to see that people are still looking at this.

Microsoft Research and Mesh Networking

I have been following the work that Microsoft is doing in their Windows Peer To Peer Networking
This is actually some very impressive technology that allows for a
distributed set of users to create peer-to-peer groups for exchanging
data and information.  I’m working on some applications (actually
plug-ins for GoBinder) that are going to exploit this
technology.  Microsoft has put together a Peer To Peer SDK allowing you to perform name-to-IP name resolution (PNRP
– a serverless DNS technology), along with graphing and grouping APIs
for the transfer of data between the peers.  It’s all very
impressive stuff … and is in all Windows XP SP2 machines … and will
be in all Vista machines.  The bottom line … this is going to
drastically alter how ad-hoc groups of users on Windows machines will
be able to locate each other, communicate, and collaborate.

Today, I found yet another amazing technology out of Microsoft Research
For years I have been tracking the “wireless mesh networking”
space.  This is where each node in a wireless network is a
repeater/relay for any other node that is within range.  With true
mesh technologies I can communicate with other users, even if they are
beyond the reach of my wireless signal, if there are one or more nodes
between us that are part of the “mesh” network.  Mesh networks are
the next big thing … even the cellular carriers are talking about
adding emergency mesh capabilities into cell phones.

What I found today is that Microsoft Research
has code available today that will allow you to experiment with some
pretty advanced mesh networking using your Windows XP machine! 
The Microsoft Research Networking Research Group has released their Mesh Networking software, and even an Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit
I’ve started to go through the documentation, and so far this is a very
impressive solution.  They have embraced and extended some of the
standards that are currently being developed:

We implement ad-hoc routing and link quality measurement in a module that we
call the Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL). Architecturally, MCL is a loadable
Microsoft Windows driver. It implements a virtual network adapter, so that to
the rest of the system the ad-hoc network appears as an additional (virtual)
network link. MCL routes using a modified version of DSR (an IETF protocol) that
we call Link Quality Source Routing (LQSR). We have modified DSR extensively to
improve its behavior, most significantly to support link quality metrics.

The MCL driver implements an interposition layer between layer 2 (the link
layer) and layer 3 (the network layer). To higher layer software, MCL appears to
be just another Ethernet link, albeit a virtual link. To lower layer software,
MCL appears to be just another protocol running over the physical link.

I am really impressed to see this work this far along.  I have
been waiting for years to see mesh networking hit the masses … and
this is now getting close.  I’m now going to upgrade some of my
wearable computers to Windows XP just to experiment with this!

Phil Windley’s CTO Breakfast

This morning was the November/December CTO Breakfast that Phil Windley
together. The breakfast started with a question about hiring good
talent. One of the employees from Canyon Bridge
said they have been looking to hire some good engineers, and have been
finding that few can answer some very simple questions. The
example that they gave was about reversing the order of a linked list.

There was a lot of talk about how to alter the hiring process, and also what types of questions people ask: What do you do outside of work? What Open Source projects do you work on?
There was also a lot of talk about how to gather names. Examples
were leverage your existing employees to get the names of “known good”
co-workers. The problem with this approach is that you can
quickly run out of references.

The conversation went on for a long time before it finally went over to the CP80
issue. CP80 is the “Clean Port 80” initiative to create laws
which forbid certain types of content to be delivered over port 80 …
the standard port used by web browsers. It again becomes an
interesting way to attempt to legislate morality. In the end, it
will not be technically possible, but could give lawyers a way to go
after the producers of “unacceptable” content. Yeah …
“unacceptable” to who? ([tags: ])

The conversation at one point moved to downloading content from the
Internet, and the subject of Digital Rights Management (DRM). 
Several sites were mentioned where you could get free content –  Pandora (which is a very cool streaming site – part of the Music Genome Project), and one of my favorites Epitonic. ([tags: ])

There was a brief exploration of the whole area of Wikis and the
inability of the “average” user to use “yet another markup
language”.  I have to admit that it truly aggrevates me that the
various Wiki platforms have subtle differences … and most do not
provide WYSIWYG editors.  and we spent some time discussing the
fact that there is a not a really good – Open Source – AJAX/WYSIWYG
editor.  I mentioned the fact that my parents can use Microsoft
Word, but that having to learn a whole symbology wasn’t going to
happen.  It reminded me of a great Podcast by Robert Lefkowitz @ OSCON 2005 … I’ll have to blog about that one!  ([tags: ])

Phil Burnes through out comments about Flock … a very cool Mozilla-based project, I brought up a very cool article that a friend sent me from Make
… it was about Mologogo
… which is a very cool mash-up of Cellular phones with GPS and Google
Maps giving you a very cheap “real-time” geopositioning/geolocation
system.  We wrapped up on one of my favorite subjects … wearable
computers.  We didn’t spend a lot of time on it … I’ll have to
bring some of my toys to one of the next breakfasts!  ([tags: ])

On the way out, Phil brought up a good point.  His gatherings
bring together an incredible group of people with diverse interests and
experience.  It is the level of experience of some of the people
that really brings a great spin to the whole conversation.  We
ended up going almost 2.5 hours … and it was a great conversation the
whole time … and we could have gone longer!  I’ll look forward
to January!

Head Mounted Displays

I haven’t really been tracking the Wearable Computer market as much
lately.  It’s not that I don’t want to … it’s just that the
high-tech crash really crushed a lot of the innovators and stopped the
progress cold.

One area that was getting so close to delivering was in Head Mounted
Displays (HMDs).  I recently found that some vendors are again
stepping into this space.  I’m not sure that I saw Icuiti before, however I have to admit that I am pleased to see their progress!

Check out the monocular HMD, and binocular HMD … these are pretty good, and the price is not too high.  I might have to pick one up to check them out …

Amazing paper on Identity … bodynets …

Funny what you find on the net!  While reading through some links related to wearable computer research I cam across this great page with some thoughts by Ana Viseu
about “bodynets” and Identity.  Besides that fact that I really
like the look of the web site, I like this train of thought:

Identity, loosely defined as the way we see and present ourselves, is
not static. On the contrary, identity is primarily established in social
interaction. This interaction consists, in its most basic form, of an
exchange of information. In this information exchange individuals define
the images of themselves and of others. This interaction can be mediated-through
a technology, for example-and it can involve entities of all sorts,
e.g., an institution or a technology. I am investigating this interaction
through the study of bodynets.

Bodynets can be thought of as new bridges or interfaces between the
individual and the environment. My working definition of a bodynets
is: A body networked for (potentially) continuous communication with
the environment (humans or computers) through at least one wearable
device-a computer worn on the body that is always on, ready and accessible.
This working definition excludes implants, genetic alterations, dedicated
devices and all other devices that are portable but not wearable, such
as cell phones, smart cards or PDAs.

Besides the matters related to identity, bodynets also raise serious
issues concerning privacy, which in turn feedback on identity changes.
Bodynets are composed of digital technologies, which inherently possess
tracking capabilities, this has major privacy implications.

If you like this, continue reading … there is a lot of additional material.  Whenever I see the University of Toronto, I have to guess that Steve Mann is involved.  These are all important directions to look at.

Summer is here … time for blading!

Well … summer is here, and I have been getting ready for a new
season. I got the wearables out and charging … I’ve been out on
my blades a couple times now in Provo Canyon. I skated from the
mouth of the canyon up to Vivian Park – pushing my son Sam in his
stroller. It’s a blast … and good exercise!

I have to get the software updates completed, and then look what
cellular Internet is costing these days … I want to get the real-time
telemetry going soon!

I also picked up IBM’s Via Voice from Fry’s this week … voice commands for my applications … 😉

Domains, Domain registrars and Internet property
I have to admit … I hate the Internet “tax” that comes in the form of “domain name registrations”. I remember when I experimented with my domain servers to add the Alternic name space to our servers. It’s amazing to me that with all of the “peer to peer” development going on around the net, that someone hasn’t come up with a good, distributed alternative …

My main purpose in bringing this up is that I “lost” some domain names by not paying in time. It’s an amazing process, and I had given up hope of recovering these names. As of today, I again own my WarBlading domains, and I have found that I “lost” my NoizCast domain.

In the future … I’ll be watching much more closely to ensure that I do not loose these again!

International Symposium on Wearable Computers
After wanting to attend this conference for several years now, the planets aligned. The conference was in Seattle, and I was able to break away and go! I have to admit that ISWC 2002 was smaller than I would have anticipated in size and attendance, but well worth the price and time in the content and what I was able to learn.

The conference started with some tutorials and I chose to attend one on power issues with wearables, and the state of power solutions. It was a good talk, and I was able to get some insight into where research is going. One thing that I started to realize is that, IMHO, battery technology evolution is being underestimated.

The next three days consisted of papers that were presented. Each paper was given 30 minutes, and they had breaks every hour and a half. It was great … hearing everything from work on the International Space Station (Yes, they are using 802.11b wireless on ther space station!), to location-based services and map rendering, to the various software that is being developed to create augmented and mediated reality. I’ll talk more about this in future posts.

Overall, it was a blast. I can’t wait for next year … I’ll be there in a very different capacity … 😉

Personal, peer to peer devices …
I really like this article … it starts to really look at the next-generation applications that we are going to be seeing soon. I have a different opinion on the platform that this will occur with, but the concepts at the same. The power of the systems that we are carrying with us is extreme … and with low-cost wireless appearing all over the place it is only a matter of time before the various applications begin to appear. One of my core interests is the “Mobile Ad-hoc Networks” that are coming …

Inter-Personal Awareness Devices [Nooface: In Search of the Post-PC Interface]

Location based information … information on how to get … information!
I really think this is a great idea for a cool web service! These guys have written a really cool application that consumes a FCC database and let’s you know what radio and TV stations are in your area. Very cool! If converted to a web service then anywhere in the United States that you might find your self, you would be able to detect what stations are around. This would be great coupled with a GPS and a wearable computer … and if the wearable had a radio/TV tuner peripheral …

Station Location and Information 1.0. Search and display AM, FM, and TV station information. [freshmeat.net]