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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


Wearable computer comprises of a computer built within an

ordinary clothing. This transformation allows it to be worn constantly,
with the goal of becoming a seamless extension of body and mind.
Equipped with various sensors which measure heart rate, respiration,
footstep rate etc, the apparatus can function as a personal safety device
for reducing crime, as well as personal health monitor for improving
health care by encouraging individuals to take an active role in diagnosis
and body maintenance. The ‘wearable computer’ apparatus is embedded
within nontransparent clothing which provides shielding. Electronic
circuits are built entirely out of textiles to distribute data and power and
perform touch sensing. These circuits are passive components sewn from
conductive yarns as well as conventional components to create
interactive electronic devices, such as musical keyboards and graphic
input surfaces.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing



There are three operational modes in this new interaction

between human and computer.

Constancy : The computer runs continuously, and is “ always ready to

interact with the user. Unlike hand-held device, laptop computer, or
PDA, it does not need to be opened up and turned on prior to use. The
signal flow from human to computer, and computer to human, runs
continuously to provide a constant user interface.

Augmentation: Traditional computing paradigms are based on the notion

that computing is the primary task. Wearable computing, however, is
based on the notion that computing is NOT the primary task. The
assumption of wearable computing is that the user will be doing
something else at the same time as doing the computing. Thus the
computer should serve to augment the intellect, or augment the senses.

Mediation: Unlike hand held devices, laptop computers, and PDAs, the
wearable computer can encapsulate us. It doesn’t necessarily need to
completely enclose us, but the concept allows for a greater degree of
encapsulation than traditional portable computers. There are two aspects to
this encapsulation:

Dept. of IT -2- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Solitude: It can function as an information filter, and allow us to block

out material we might not wish to experience, whether it be offensive
advertising, or simply a desire to replace existing media with different
media. In less severe manifestations, it may simply allow us to alter our
perception of reality in a very mild sort of way.

Privacy: Mediation allows us to block or modify information leaving

the encapsulated space. In the same way that ordinary clothing prevents
others from seeing our naked bodies, the wearable computer may , for
example, serve as an intermediary for interacting with untrusted systems,
such as third party digital anonymous cash “cyber wallets” .


There are six informational flow paths associated with this new
human-machine synergy. The signal flow paths are, in fact, attributes of
wearable computing, and are described , that follows, from the human’s
point of view:

UNMONOPOLIZING of the user’s attention: it does not cut you off

from the outside world like a virtual reality game or the like. You can
attend to other matters while using the apparatus. It is built with the
assumption that computing will be secondary activity, rather than a
primary focus of attention. In fact, ideally, it will provide enhanced sensory
capabilities. It may , however , mediate (augment , alter, or deliberately
diminish) the sensory capabilities.

UNRESTRICTIVE to the user: ambulatory, mobile, roving, “you can do

other things while using it”,e.g. You can type while jogging, etc

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

OBSERVABLE by the user: It can get your attention continuously if

you want it to. Almost always observable: within reasonable limitations (e.g.
that you might not see the screen while you blink or look away
momentarily ) the output medium is constantly perceptible by the wearer.

CONTROLLABLE by the user: Responsive. You can grab control of

it at any time you wish. Even in automated processes you can
manually override to break open the control loop and become part of the
loop at any time you want to (example: “a big Halt button you want as
an application mindlessly opens all 50 documents that were highlighted
when you accidentally pressed “Enter” would make a computer more
CONTROLLABLE .Infinitely-often-controllable: the constancy of user-
interface results from almost-always observability and infinitely-often
controllability in the sense that there is always a potential for manual
override which need not be always exercised.

ATTENTIVE to the environment: Environmentally aware, multimodal,

multisensory.(As a result this ultimately gives the user increased
situational awareness).

COMMUNICATIVE to others: Can be used as a communications

medium when you want it to. Expressive: allows the wearable to be
expressive through the medium, whether as a direct communications
medium to others, or as means of assisting the production of expressive
media (artistic or otherwise).

Dept. of IT -4- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Followed by the above six properties is that it must also be:

CONSTANT: Always ready. May have “sleep modes” but never “dead”.
Unlike a laptop computer which must be opened up, switched on, and
booted up before use, it is always on and always running.

PERSONAL: Human and computer are inextricably intertwined.

PROSTHETIC: You can adapt to it so that it acts as a true extension

of mind and body; after time you forget that you are wearing it.

ASSERTIVE: can have barrier to prohibition or to requests by others

for removal during times when you wish such a barrier. This is contrast
to laptop computer in briefcase or bag that could be separated from you
by a “please give all bags and briefcases at the counter” policy of a
department store, library, or similar establishment.

PRIVATE: others can’t observe or control it unless you let them.

Others can’t determine system status unless you want them to, e.g. clerk
at refund counter in department store where photography is prohibited
can’t tell whether or not you are transmitting wireless video to a spouse
for remote advice, in contrast to camcorder technology where it is
obvious you are taking a picture when you hold it up to your eye.

Dept. of IT -5- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


Existential technology means the computer is controlled by the

wearer. This control need not require continuous thought, but the locus
of control must be such that it is entirely within the wearer’s domain.
The user must also potentially know the functionality of the apparatus.
Furthermore, the apparatus provides the wearer with the ability to make
its operation secure and completely private when desired. In addition to
the obvious privacy afforded and eudaemonic nature, the output can be
made private when desired by.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing



As with all clothes computerized apparel starts with the proper

thread. Cotton, polyester or rayon don’t have the needed properties to
carry the electrical current needed for digital clothing. However, metallic
yarns are not new to the clothing industry. We have seen these metallic
fabrics worn to make fashion statements for years. Researchers at MIT’s
Media Lab are using silk organza, a unique fabric that has been used to
make clothes in India at least a century.

Silk organza is ideal for computerized clothing because it is

made with two fibers that make it conductive to electricity. The first
fiber is an ordinary silk thread , running in the opposite direction of the
fiber is silk thread that is wrapped in a thin copper foil. It’s this copper
foil that gives the silk organza the ability to conduct electricity. Copper
is a very good conductor of electricity and some microprocessor
manufactures are beginning to use copper to speed up microprocessors.
The metallic yarn is prepared just like cloth core telephone wire,
according to the MIT researchers. If you cut open a coiled telephone
cable, there’s usually a conductor that is made out of a sheet of copper
wrapped round a core of nylon or polyester threads. These metallic yarn
can withstand high temperatures, the yarn can be sewn or embroidered
using industrial machinery. This property makes it very promising for
mass producing computerized clothing.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Silk Organza

A strip of the fabric would basically function like a ribbon of

cable. Ribbon cables are used in computers to connect disk drives to
controllers. One problem with using silk organza would result if the
circuits were to touch each other, therefore MIT scientists use an
insulating material to coat or support the fabric.

Once the fabric is cut into suitable shape, other components

need to be attached to the fabric, like resistors, capacitors and coils.
These components are directly sewn to the fabric. Additional components
such as LED’s, crystals, piezo transducers, other surface mount
components, if needed, are soldered directly onto the metallic yarn
which the developers say is an easy process. Other electronic devices
can be snapped into the fabric by using some kind of gripper snaps,
which pierce the yarn to create an electrical contact. These devices can
then easily removed in order to clean the fabric.

At Georgia Tech, researchers have developed another kind of

thread to make smart clothes. Their smart shirt, which we will look at
the next section, is made of plastic optical fibers and other specialty
fibers woven into the fabric. These optical and electrical conductive

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

fibers will allow the shirt to wirelessly communicate with the other
devices, transferring data from the sensors embedded in the shirt.


How do you operate a wear comp ? What sort of software do

you use in it ? What do you use it as input and output devices ?
Where do you store data ? How do you store them? All these are
common questions that would arise in someone new to wear comp.
Below given are brief answers to such common questions.


The commonly used operating system on a wearable computer

is WOS(wear comp OS). Red hat and GNU Linux can be run in close
coordination as an operating system too. Various software mostly GNU
freeware such as GIMP (GNU image modulation program) as well as
various calender and planning programs can be run on a wearable


Prices of wearable computers tend to be in “thousands of

dollars” whether you buy old or new. An alternative approach is to
assemble a low cost system. For example, you can buy an old computer
that has NTSC output and connect to small CRT from camera. Some
such complete wearable computer systems have been built for as little

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

DISPLAY: A major part of the total cost of the wearable computer

system lies in its display unit. VGA display tend to increase the cost
of the system to very high extend. So in design of cheaper models,
NTSC resolution is used. This normally is too low to display VGA
image. There are very good vedio camera viewfinders that can display
24 text, on 80 characters each. While many of the modern LCD
viewfinders are not capable to display 24 text, there are a good many
older black and white viewfinders that can display a 24 text and clear
80*24 screen, and many can be had for $10 or less.

One of the commonly used display nowadays is the personal

monitor. The personal monitor before is unique eyeglass mounted display
that creates a high resolution color image in the user’s eyesight. The
PM presents a video image equivalent to a screen from 6.5 feet
distance. The image covers only 5% of the vision and allows to see
the surrounding also. The PM is easy to use, it can be plugged into the
video and power in seconds and appear on the ultra lightweight display.


• High resolution color video image

• Image that appears in the person’s line of sight
• Viewing angle comparable to viewing a 26” monitor
from 2 meters (6.5 feet) away
• Ultra light-weight, no major disturbance in the

Dept. of IT -10- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

The personal monitor projects a high resolution color video

image that appears in the person’s line of sight in a viewing angle
comparable to viewing a 26” 0r from 2 meters away. The video image
is see around, it covers only the area in which the image appears,
otherwise users are free to view the surrounding environment. Personal
monitor provides an added convenience by maintaining the image the
wearer is looking. While the PM provides a constantly available image
in the person’s line of sight, it enables to maintain focus and attention it
keeps the integrity of the corresponding environment. The advantage will
be immediate in decreased processing time and increased precision. The
personal monitor is a monoscopic biocular display with completely
narrow field of view. The personal monitor can receive video signals
from any source. The signals are converted in the controller unit into
signals driving the electronics of the LCD display. The PM takes
standard video signals and displays them on TFT LCD display that can
be connected to any video source.

The PM consists of a monitor block, eye glasses, cable and

controller box. The monitor block contains the display, a back light and
its driver for the LCD and the lenses and mirrors that projects the
display image into the retina of the eyes. Light beams coming from the
display are reflected in two directions by the dividing mirrors placed in
front of the display.

The monitor block has a mounting slot that fits into the
vertical nosepiece of the eyeglasses. The controller box contains the
video input modulator unit and the driving electronics of the LCD
display. The LCD directs the display, control signals are send through a
flexible shielded cabled to the display. The glasses have adjustable

Dept. of IT -11- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

temple pieces and each unit comes with a commercially available 9 volt
AC-DC adaptor.


If you are going on the cheap, a collection of pushbutton

micro switches are used as keyboards. At the higher end, you can get a
“twiddler” from Hand key, or keyboard from info grip. You can connect
micro switches that enable you to plug directly into the keyboard port if
you see a “BAT” KEYBOARD. A combination keyboard that weighs 4
ounces and fits in the palm of your hand. The twiddler 2 is an existing
technology of wearable computing.


Many hard drives commonly used in laptop computers can

withstand operational shock, it is common to go jogging while editing,
and sometimes shoot momentary video while on horse back or riding a
mountain bike down the center of a line bumping over every railway
tie, and capturing the experience on a hard drive. It is possible to carry
enormous amount of hard drive space on your body. Prof Martin has
36GB of hard drive installed in his wear. One of his waist bag systems
contain 2GB of hard drive space and 512MB of RAM.


Low cost batteries

Early versions of wear comp used lead acid batteries. Later
versions used Li-Ion camcorder batteries. Lead acid batteries are

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

typically available surplus. For constant application you will want to

obtain at least two 12 Volt batteries.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

High performance batteries

Li-Ion camcorder batteries are commercially available. A
minimum of two batteries is required for constant running 12Volt

These are used in order to keep the voltage of Li-Ion batteries
constant as output voltage drops significantly, with usage from a full
charge. Another reason for constant voltage is that various components of
WearComp require different voltages. .

Dept. of IT -14- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


Wisely designed technology can properly address the concern

for humanistic property, and therefore need not be focused on external
control just like taming with a piece of itself!. In fact, the fundamental
use of wearcomp may very well in personal empowerment of the
individual. Smart computing will allow us to explore all potential of
many modern technologies and ideas without wanting us to sacrifice
freedom or privacy. Instead of current vision of smart floors, smart light
switches, toilets, smart elevators, smart furniture and other smart
technologies that watch us correspond to our actions, what we will
witness is the emergence of smart people.

Mediated/augmented reality: - It is the ability of the computer to

offer enhanced presentations of reality to the user. The application of
the augmented reality lies in adding to your perceptual field. To aid in
repairing a broken photocopier, an overlay of the internal structure of
the photocopier can be put in the repairing person’s visual field, and
thus can help him in his work.

MediWear :- It closely monitors the wearer’s body functions and the

moment that any one of them becomes critical, the pre-defined medical
unit is notified remotely. It is closely related to Blind Vision expect for
the fact that the transmitted signals are internal and they are relayed
on to an external source.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

ENGear :- Electronics News Gathering Wearable System introduces the

sense of community and implies the existance of a group to which the
user might want to offer his/her sensory impressions.

Blind Vision :- It is a personalized radar system that is integrated in

close-fitting vest which is able to process object in the vicinity of the
wearer is a benefit for visually impaired persons. Returned waves from
the said object are transformed by the wearable computer and send over
to the vest, which sends electric stimuli to the wearer. Closer objects
exhibit “stronger pressure” via stronger current, while object further
away accordingly output milder current. Any cyclist, motorcyclist or
professional who has to work on the open environment would appreciate
this invention.

Smart Glasses

Smart eyeglasses :- It would not appreciably obstruct the wearer’s

vision, or otherwise be encumbering, so that, for example, the wearer
could play a competitive game of volleyball wearing the apparatus. It
would not look unsightly. Ideally it would not be visible.

Dept. of IT -16- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Smart shoes :- Inside the shoes there is an array of transducers that

picks up the impact upon the ground. The shoes supplies the personal-
worn computer with information about how the feet are impacting on
the ground, and this information could be used to control an external
process in an intimate manner.

Smart Shoes

Smart cards and badges :- WearCam is a simple apparatus for

effortless capture , display, processing and transmission of visual
imagery. WearCam viewfinder goes beyond merely setting the camera
correctly. Since the apparatus is worn on an extended period of time,
one adapts to it, and it begin to function as a true extension of body.
In this way, the viewfinder transcends being just a composition toward
allowing the camera to “become” the eye of the wearer. A creative
application WearCam is in personal documentary. The question of
privacy is often raised with respect to WearCam. The apparatus suggests
that shopkeepers and customers alike, police and ordinary citizens alike,
etc.. must respect the possibility that they could be caught on camera.
With WearCam nobody will know whether or not a particular person
is wearing a camera, as the present (and future) units are so small that
they cannot be detected.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Homographic modeling :- The flow field of a rigid planar patch in the

scene is tracked, and virtual objects are inserted. In this way a virtual
“Post-It” note may be left on any flat surface will be seen only by the
recipient trough WearCam.

Homographic modeling

Safety net :- A further improvement to the personal safety device

includes the use of biosensors where the quotient of heart rate divided
by foot step rate. Suppose that someone were to draw a gun and
demand cash from the wearer. The likely scenario is that the wearer’s
hear rate would increase without an increase in the foot step rate to
explain it. Such an occurrence would be programmed to trigger “may be
I’m in distress” message to other members of the personal safety

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

Safety Net

Sensors, which measure heart rate (and waveform), respiration, footstep

rate (and waveform), and even carry the entire medical history.


Wearcomp allows playing music to be “disappear” into clothing and be

integrated in a more natural manner.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing



The development of digital yarn opens up the opportunity for

an entire computerized clothing industry. In the next decade, we will
likely to see the wide range of apparel enter the consumer market.
Several companies are already exploring the ability of putting us in the
designer computerized clothing, including Levi, Philips, Nike and Sensa
Tex. In Europe, Levi has already tested marketing the musical jacket
developed by MIT Media Lab.

Levi’s musical jacket is made with the silk organza and is

controlled with fabric capacitive key board. This keyboard has been
mass-produced using ordinary embroidery techniques and conductive
thread. The keypad is flexible, durable, and sensitive to touch. A printed
circuit is used to give the keypad a sensing ability, so that control
reacts when pressed. The keypad can sense touch due to the increase in
capacitance of the electrode, when touched. The keypads are connected
to miniature synthesizer that plays music. Power could be supplied by a
parasitic power source as solar power, wind, temperature or mechanical
energy from turning wrists or leg. Further out researchers are looking
for fabrics capable of generating power.

Another all-fabric keyboard being developed by the MIT Media

Lab uses conductive material sewn together in a row and column
addressable structure. The final product looks like a quilt that has been
pieced together in a square form. The quilted conductive columns are
insulated and form the conductive rows with thick fabric like felt or

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing

velvet. Holes in the insulating fabric allow the row and column
conductors to make contact when a user presses down on the keyboard.
Shirts and other clothes using this keyboard can be thrown in the
washing machine just like an ordinary piece of clothing.

While the musical jacket is an example for how computerized

clothes are used for entertainment, researchers at the Georgia Institute of
Technology have developed a practical and medical purpose for this
technology. The smart shirt can monitor heart and breathing rates by
using optical and electric conductive fibers that are sewn into the fabric
of the shirt.

The smart shirt project at Georgia Tech was originally

financed by the navy, beginning in 1999. At that time the shirt was
being designed for soldiers in combat, so that medical personnel could
find the exact location of a bullet wound. To pinpoint the location of
the bullet penetration, a light signal is continually be sent from one end
of the optical fiber to a receiver on the other end. This fiber is also
connected to a personal status monitor worn on the hip. If the light
from the emitter does not reach the receiver inside the monitor, this
signals that the soldier has been shot. The light signal then bounces
back to the point of penetration, which helps doctors to find the exact
location of the bullet wound.

Smart Shirt

Dept. of IT -21- MESCE Kuttippuram

Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


Batteries add size, weight, and inconvenience to present-day

mobile technology. Thus wearcomp technology explores the possibility of
harnessing the energy expended during wearer’s everyday actions to
generate power for his or her computer, thus eliminating the use of
batteries. An analysis of power generation through leg motion is
generated in depth and a survey of other methods such as generation
by breath or blood pressure, body heat, and finger and limb motion is
also presented.

Wearable computer is an effort to make computers truly part

of our day lives by embedding them into our clothing or creating form
factors that can be used like clothing. This level of access to
computation will revolutionize how computers are used. Although the
computational hardware has been reduced in size to accommodate this
vision, power systems are still bulky and inconvenient. Even today’s
PDAs ( personal digital assistants ) are often limited by battery capacity,
current and the necessity of having an electrical outlet within easy
access computing, However, if energy can be generated by the user’s
actions, these problems can be alleviated.

At this point, a review of vocabulary and units is in order.

Energy is used as the capacity to do the work. A joule is the product
of a force of one Newton acting at a distance of one meter. The
calorie, which is 4.19 joules, is also often used as a unit of energy.
However, in dietary circles, a Calorie refers to a kilocalorie or 1000
joules. Therefore an average adult diet of 2500 Calories translates to
10.5 mega joules.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


People are carrying more and more electronic products: mobile

phones, personal hi-fis etc. Smart clothing is a combination of electronics
and clothing textiles. These intelligent clothes are worn like ordinary
clothing and will help in various situations according to the designed
application. A piece of clothing works and helps actively to carry out a
mission such as drying. A piece of clothing usually dries hanging, it
requires a certain time to dry, so this means a passive drying . Active
drying can be accomplished with humidity sensor which notices humidity
growing up and puts heating on. Therefore dissipating of water is more
effective. Active characters of smart clothing can be heating, cooling,
changing of color and active drying. The intimate nature of clothing is
that it is always with us and that we select it of our own accord,
suggests a new trend or ‘smartness’ on people.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


• Steve Mann. Wearable computing: A first step toward

personal imaging I EEE Computer, Feb 1997
• Joseph Hoshen, Jim Sennot .Keeping tabs on criminals

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


There is a major movement going on in the electronics and

computer industries to develop wearable devices for what’s being called
Post-PC era. We are now at the dawn of that era and some of these
devices are already making their way to the consumer market
.Computerized clothes will be the next step in making computers and
devices portable without having to strap electronics into our body. These
digital clothes will able to perform some of the PC functions. These devices
are small in size and portable. This apparel can be used to read our heart
rate and breathing. The LED monitors could even be integrated into this
apparel to display text and images.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing


I express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Agnisarman Namboodiri,

Head of Department of Information Technology and Computer Science , for his
guidance and support to shape this paper in a systematic way.

I am also greatly indebted to Mr. Saheer H. and

Ms. S.S. Deepa, Department of IT for their valuable suggestions in the
preparation of the paper.

In addition I would like to thank all staff members of IT department

and all my friends of S7 IT for their suggestions and constrictive criticism.

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Seminar Report ’03 Computer Clothing









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