Where to Wear your computer?
This article covers a couple of areas of research that are exploring the best ways to integrate wearable computers onto – and into? – the human body. The design of human augmentation and human extensions …

That Computer Looks Great on You. For wearable computers, how your body moves is just as important as how the technology works. Brad King reports from the South-by-Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. [Wired News]

More Gesture Interface code for Linux …
As wearable computers continue to gain in popularity, people are going to recognize the importance of “gesture interfaces” for input of data. It seems that most people think that we will be talking to our computers using voice recognition, however in many venues this is not a reasonable solution. Imagine sitting on the bus at prime commute time … it’s already difficult to have a private personal or business conversation on your cell phone. In addition, the ability of current voice recognition solutions to discriminate your voice in a loud setting are also limited.

One of the solutions that I am using now is a simple gesture interface and touchpad. I am continuing my work on this solution on the Windows platform, and this appears to be a solution that is coming for Linux! I’m going to install on my RedHat wearable system an give it a try!

Open Source Gesture Interface For Linux [Nooface: In Search of the Post-PC Interface]

Thoughts on Digital Identity …
I read the following article and immediately visited the new DigitalIDWorld web site … it’s a very good start. I read a number of their posts, and had the following thoughts that I forwarded to Andre …

This is a very powerful conversation, and I like the way that you have started to examine identity. I would really enjoy exploring this entire space with you as I have done some extensive thinking about digital identity over the last several years.

For some background, I was the original architect of digitalme at Novell several years ago. This project was the result of my research into directories and presence/instant messaging and how they relate to, and can be used in, digital identity management. Since leaving Novell I have continued my research and development of digital identity and identity management applications.

One of the core issues that I came across in my original research was that identity was always related to communities or organizations. Your “tiers” also indicate that you are on the same track. You are moving down some of the same paths that we explored when creating digitalme … that there are many different forms of identity. I want to offer some of my current frameworks and “axioms” for an extended conversation to explore this further.

  • Consider the possibility that no one has any inherent identity. Identity is not something that we have, it is something that we are given by others … usually communities or organizations. If you were to examine the Latin roots of the word “identity” you would find that it comes from “similar to” or “same as”. In our modern world we have failed to distinguish this subtle aspect of our own language. If we view a part of our identity as something that we are “similar to”, then we can see that we are not “6 feet tall”, but instead we are “similar to something that a bunch of us call 6 feet tall”. In my opinion, this is one of the most important distinctions in exploring identity because it then begs the questions “Then how did I get to be 6 feet tall?” and “Who is this ‘bunch of us’ that are saying I’m 6 feet tall?”
  • Consider the possibility that all of our identity is given to us by the various communities that we are a member of … including our families. Attributes of identity are all forms of language and measurement of an individual … comparisons to concepts that are known to a community. Again, some group of people made the choice that a “foot” was the term used to name the length of a physical piece of material. That same group also gave the name “six” to a specific count of elements, and when combining the two and looking at you they said that you are “six feet”. If we were to leave the context of this community and travel to a foreign land we might find that they do not have a “foot” and so that identity of yours doesn’t even exist to them. This then opens up the conversation about context of identity.
  • Consider the possibility that you have no identity outside the context of a community. Every attribute of your identity only exists within the context of the community that gave it to you. It might exist in another community, however only if that community has a relationship with the community that gave you that identity. For example, in the United States you have a Social Security Number, and it only exists in the context of the US. Since my bank has a relationship with the US, and they have also been given a Federal Tax ID number, these attributes of identity exist for us both in the context of the US and in our business relationship. Likewise, since many communities have adopted the common identity measurement of height using feet, my height is valid in the context of numerous communities around the world.
  • Consider the possibility that you started to accumulate identity the moment that you were conceived, and will continue to accumulate identity after you have died! Again, if we agree that identity is given to you by the communities that you interact with, then that interaction began upon conception, and people will continue to give you identity in their conversations about you after you die. If we go back to when you were born the community of your family gave you what we think is the first piece of identity that you get … your name! In most cases though, the delivering doctor or nurse might have already started to give you identity before your name by defining the medical and physical attributes about you before handing you to your parents! In addition, after you die, there are all of the documents and certificates that are generated that people will assign to you … adding to your identity. If they then start to clean out your house, they might find things that you left behind that continue to be added to your identity!
  • Consider the possibility that real identity management will become a reality when we can create applications which will accumulate your entire lifetime of identity, managing the relationships with the communities that gave identity to me. These applications will automate the process of requesting and granting identity, keeping identity information in sync, and allowing for historical searching of identity. (What were my last three addresses for this credit app?)

I believe that there is an abstraction of identity that we have created that allows us to view your three tiers as one and the same. This is really an exploration of the fundamentals of the human experience, and an ontological study. If we step back and truly examine what it is to be human, and a part of various communities, then a solid model for digital identity management begins to emerge. What’s funny is that the process of identity creation and granting has been going on since humans existed and they are all around us. Most people just don’t see them because they have become so commonplace.

These are the areas that I have been researching and developing solutions. I currently have my third generation of an application that begins to define the high-level “protocol” of identity transactions, and then the accumulation and management of that information.

I look forward to discussing these subjects further with you!

Scott C. Lemon

RFC: Sponsored Feature Section on Digital Identity. I have a proposal for the site, that I’d like your comments and thoughts on. Jabber.com founder Andre Durand and ISPCON founder Phil Becker recently started a new website called DigitalIDWorld.com. K5er Adam Theo is also working with them, and thought that the subject of digital identity would be something other K5ers might have some interest in, and perhaps we could arrange some kind of syndication agreement. I talked to Andre and Phil a few times, and below is what we came up with. We all think it has a lot of potential, but as always, you make the final call as to what’s good for K5. So read on for the idea, and let us know what you think of it. [kuro5hin.org]

Augmented Reality and Location-Based services …
There is much talk in a variety of forums about “virtual reality” … the creation of virtual worlds that all of us will explore using goggles connected to powerful computers. I am not as thilled (yet) about “virtual reality”, as I am by the near term possibilities of “augmented reality”. This is one of the areas that has been the focus of my attention lately.

Augmented reality can be thought of as the enhancement of our senses when viewing the world around us. One of the common examples from the movies are the scenes from Terminator where the views from the eyes of the Terminator are shown with their red tint, and the constantly updating digital information overlayed. This type of visual augmentation is also being explored by many different universities and is slowly progressing in the experimental stages. This type of visual augmentation will eventually be very commonplace, and will be a integrated part of any pair of glasses or sunglasses. The information that will be displayed to you will be completely configurable, and will be based on where you are, what you are doing, and what is going on around you.

Audible Augmented Reality
Another form of augmented reality that in my opinion will be even more important in the next few years will be audible augmentation. Just as a computer can produce visual information that can be overlayed onto my glasses, it can also “tell” me things using recorded voice or synthesized voice. I will be skating through town on my rollerblades, listening to my favorite MP3s, and as the computer detects a Starbucks coming up on my left, I will suddenly hear something like “There is a Starbucks … 3 blocks ahead … on your left.” These types of audible queues will be given to me to assist me in locating places of interest, along with friends and family.

What becomes interesting is thinking about where I will get the information to generate this visual or audible augmentation of the world around me. How will this really occur?

Audible Augmented Reality Project
In my current research, I have started to outline several of the basic requirements of such a system, and also some of my predictions on how this system will be created and evolve. I am currently writing an application to build the foundation on my Audible Augmented Reality Project, and some of my thoughts are:

  • For the foreseeable future I will have “intermittent connectivity” to the Internet as I roam from place to place. My application will have to automatically accomodate the fact that I might switch from no connectivity, to low-speed cellular, to 802.11b, back to no connectivity, and on and on. Due to this fact, I will have to support a variety of real-time and store-and-forward technologies to communicate my location, and retrieve information about the world around me.
  • Since I will roam from indoors to outdoors, cities to country, open spaces to dense cities, my GPS will have a variety of accuracy which will range from excellent to none. My application on my wearable computer will monitor my personal GPS for my location and the quality of the fix. It will keep track of my current fix, and if I do not currently have a good fix, it will remember the “last good fix”.
  • When there is a good fix … or even a last good fix … and I have network connectivity, my application will report my location to one or more Geographic Location Servers. It is very important to understand that I will not be reporting my location to a single place … but instead to numerous services on the Internet. This is what provides the redundancy, privacy, and my ability to control the sharing of this information with a variety of other people.
  • My application will provide me a way to quickly create “LocationMarks” to note and describe a particular point of interest. A LocationMark will consist of (at least) the latitude, longitude, altitude, my name for the place, one or more categories, text descriptions, and maybe even audio, photos, or video. I can then store these LocationMarks on one or more Geographic Location Servers where I can share this information with others, or later lookup and reference these points.
  • More and more people will be running similar applications that will send their current geographic location information to one or more Geographic Location Servers, and they will also be saving and sharing their LocationMarks through these servers. We will all have our “personal” LocationMarks stored on our wearable computers, along with “public” LocationMarks that we have accessed or used recently. These LocationMarks will become as popular as web pages are today … providing information that is associated with a specific geographic location, and that can be used to augment my experience when I am at or near that location.
  • My application will give me the ability to configure a set of “persistant queries” against any number of Geographic Location Servers. These queries will be to search for any LocationMarks, meeting a defined set of criteria, within a defined distance from me. I might have several of these queries constantly searching for LocationMarks of interest … such as Starbucks Coffee locations. Further, I might actually be sending queries to Starbucks own Geographic Location Server so that I am getting this information directly from the source!
  • Lastly, my application will constantly be generating audible notifications when these points of interest come into range of me as I travel.

I currently have an application which implements some of the first two points, and I am working on the next couple of points. I have several other ideas and theories on how location-based services will evolve from here, but this is a start.

This article really caused me to document what I am working on now, to get some of these ideas in writing and out on the web. I’ll post more on the HumanXtensions web site as I make progress. This is still all a part of my original quest to build a “Metropolitan Area Roller Tag Game” using wearable computers … but that is going to be documented in another post. 😉

Location-Based Internet Communities. Geographic Information System technology has traditionally been relegated to the domain of generating maps and driving directions online. What would happen if you combined a modern GIS system and an online community? [kuro5hin.org]

A good note on the state of browser support for DOM …
This is a good article on some of the various differences in implimentations of DOM is the various browsers. Good info to know if you are developing JavaScript on the bleeding edge …

Waiting for the DOM. Though great strides have been made towards the ultimate goal of a single DOM for all browsers, some implementation differences still remain. Guest author Kenneth Tibbetts provides some browser-specific scripting gotchas to watch out for. From the WebReference Update. 0315 [WebReference News]

Updates to the wearable infrastructure …
This is a cool site, and a cool project. I am going to download and install this on my wearable and see how it goes. One other thing that I found on this site was a good set of links that included a cool Wiki that has been created for wearables. Look for my contributions there also …

jAugment 2.3.182 (Unstable). A software infrastructure for wearable computers. [freshmeat.net]

XPath and DOM Documents …
As I continue my learning of JavaScript I continue to learn some of the rich infrastructure. This is a very good article that applies well to many of the exact DOM operations that I am writing currently. I continue to be very impressed with this site, and this series of articles!

Searching DOMDocument Nodes. It’s easy to load XML data into Internet Explorer using JavaScript; the real fun starts when you try to find specific information within the DOMDocument tree. Learn how to search for and select specific nodes using XPath notation. By Yehuda Shiran and Tomer Shiran. 0226 [WebReference News]

Yet another validation of our original business plan from years ago …
It seems like more and more people are realizing that the community networks are going to win. This is a very good article that discusses that the real issues are in the “back office” as quoted below …

Privacy expert Garfinkel on opening public institutions’ wireless networks: I hadn’t realized that noted security and privacy expert Simson Garfinkel spent several months as part of a firm trying to build a commercial wireless ISP business that would expand across the globe. He found the back-office stuff the killer, not the networks or network infrastructure. (I’ve heard the same thing about MobileStar; it cost them $3K/Starbucks to put Wi-Fi in, so how did they burn through $80M? Garfinkel explains.) Garfinkel argues that public institutions for whom incremental bandwidth costs are nil should contribute to the larger community by opening their networks. Likewise, he points out how simple it is for individuals to get bandwidth and feed it out. Running through tens of millions put him on the track of what’s becoming the real revolution: community networks. (Garfinkel’s books include the superb non-fiction horror title Database Nation and the co-authored (with guru Gene Spafford) Web Security, Privacy, and Commerce.

[80211b News]

Bandwidth being seen as a utility …
I like to see things like this occurring … the perspective that bandwidth is simply a utility. The streams of bits flowing into, and out of, your computer being seen like a two-way water pipe.

As this perspective continues to gain ground, it will become more and more apparent that you are free to do with your bandwidth what you like … just like what you do with water or gas.

Bandwidth is going to become a public utility …

Publicly Funded Broadband and 802.11 [Slashdot]