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A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts

Katherine Watier

Washington, DC
April 19, 2003


Copyright 2003 by Katherine Watier
All Rights Reserved


I would like to thank the entire staff of Youth Service America for their support
and understanding during my thesis process. Many thanks to the professionals in the
industry who helped me with my research: Xybernaut Corporation, Tim Shea at Venture
Development Corporation and Greg J enkins at MicroOptical. My mom and second
mom (J udy) deserve a huge amount of thanks for editing various pieces of this thesis
and for providing emotional support. Finally, my friends and family deserve more
praise that I can give for being there through my ups and downs. I could not have made
it through without their support.

Many thanks to all,

Katherine Watier

LIST OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................IX
INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................. 1
CHAPTER 1: WEARABLE COMPUTERS OVERVIEW........................................ 6
1.1 Wearable Computer Definition 6
1.1.1 Fully-functioning Computers 8
1.1.2 Head Mounted Displays 8
1.1.3 Input Devices 12
1.1.4 Always-On Functionality 14
1.1.5 Power supply 16
1.2 The History of Wearable Computing 17
1.3 Wearable Computing Industry & Consumer Products 21
1.4 Current Consumer Wearable Computing Applications 23
1.5 Future Applications and Features 24
1.5.1 Sharing Experiences via Video 25
1.5.2 Remembrance Agents 26
1.5.3 GPS Driven Information 28
1.5.4 Intersection with Smart Fabrics 29
1.5.5 Intersection with NanoTechnology 33

CHAPTER 2: PRODUCT ADOPTION THEORY..................................................... 35
2 PRODUCT ADOPTION AND DIFFUSION THEORIES...................................................36
2.1 The Purchasing Decision Process 36
2.1.1 Stages of Decision Making 38
2.2 Categories of Adopters 39
2.2.1 Innovators 41
2.2.2 Early Adopters 41
2.2.3 Early Majority 41
2.2.4 Late Majority 42
2.2.5 Laggards 42
2.2.6 Early Market vs. Mainstream Market 42
2.3 Factors that Impact Rate of Adoption 45
2.3.1 Relative Advantage 45
2.3.2 Compatibility 45
2.3.3 Complexity 46
2.3.4 Trialability 46
2.3.5 Observability 46
2.3.6 Consumer Valued Attributes 47
2.4 Criticism of Adoption and Diffusion Models 48
2.5 Theories of Consumer Behavior 49

2.5.1 Motivation 50
2.5.2 Perception 54
2.6 Predicting Markets for New Technology 57
2.6.1 Bass Model for Predicting Adoption 59
2.6.2 Criticisms of the Bass Model 61
2.6.3 Delphi Method for Predicting Adoption 64
2.6.4 Other Models 65
2.7 Use of Product Prediction Theories in this Analysis 67
CHAPTER 3: DATA COLLECTION STUDIES....................................................... 68
3 DATA PRESENTATION.............................................................................................69
3.1 First Web Survey 70
3.1.1 Determining Early Adopters 73
3.1.2 Demographics 74
3.1.3 Daily Technology Use 79
3.2 Second Email Survey 83
3.2.1 Determining Early Adopters 86
3.2.2 Second Survey Demographics 87
3.3 Poma Focus Group 88
3.3.1 Focus Group Demographics 89
3.3.2 Written Responses 90

3.4 Daily Poma Use 91
3.4.1 Daily Use Demographics 92
3.5 Data Analysis: Common Themes of Issues and Concerns 93
3.6 Expectations & Pop Culture Associations 94
3.6.1 Focus Group 94
3.6.2 Daily Use 97
3.6.3 Survey 98
3.7 Concerns about Impact on Social Reactions 104
3.7.1 Focus Group 104
3.7.2 Daily Use 105
3.7.3 Surveys 105
3.8 Concerns about Being Always Connected 107
3.8.1 User Interface 108
3.9 Mobility 121
3.9.1 Focus Group 121
3.9.2 Surveys 123
3.9.3 Daily Use 123
3.10 Always-On VS. On-by-Command 124
3.10.1 Focus Group 124
3.10.2 Daily Use 126

3.10.3 Surveys 126
3.11 Integration with Smart Clothing 127
3.11.1 Focus Group 127
3.11.2 Surveys 128
3.12 Potential Applications 132
3.12.1 Focus Group 134
3.12.2 Daily Use 142
3.12.3 Surveys 142
3.13 Interest in Purchasing 145
3.13.1 Focus Group 146
3.13.2 Surveys 147
3.14 Data Analysis Conclusions 152
3.14.1 Not Interested in 24/7 Full Mobile Computing 152
3.14.2 Concerned about Social Impact 153
3.14.3 Issues with Product Interface and Features 154
3.14.4 Disinterest in Smart Clothing with Embedded Wearables 154
3.14.5 Cultural 155
3.15 Impact of Findings on Wearable Computers Adoption 156
CHAPTER 4: LIMITATIONS TO MOBILE INTERNET..................................... 158
4 WIRELESS DATA NETWORKS INTRODUCTION......................................................159

4.1.1 Network Effects 160
4.1.2 Economies of Scale 161
4.1.3 Standards 162
4.2 Mechanics of Wireless Data Transmission 164
4.3 Wireless Evolution and History 165
4.3.1 WiFi Standards 167
4.3.2 WiFi - Structure 168
4.3.3 Other Wireless Data Standards 170
4.4 WiFi Deployment Issues 170
4.4.1 Usability Issues 171
4.4.2 Security Issues 172
4.4.3 Future Deployment - Subscription 173
4.4.4 Future Growth 174
4.5 Cellular Evolution and History 176
4.6 Generations of Standards 177
4.6.1 1G- First Generation 178
4.6.2 2G - Second Generation 179
4.6.3 2.5G 2.5 Generation 183
4.6.4 3G - Third Generation 184
4.6.5 SDMA 184

4.6.6 4-G Future of US Cellular 186
4.7 Impact of Current Wireless Internet Infrastructure on this Research 188
CONCLUSION............................................................................................................... 191
5.1 Wireless Infrastructure Limitations 193
5.2 Predicting Consumer Interest for Wearable Computers 194
5.3 Product Improvement Suggestions 197
5.4 Cultural Influences over Consumers Decisions 198
5.5 Social & Fashion influences 198
5.6 Disinterested in an Always-on Product 199
5.7 Wearable Devices that Consumers Want 200
5.7.1 Interest in Head Mounted Displays 201
5.8 Market Conditions 201
5.9 Accelerators and Inhibitors 202
5.10 Challenges and Opportunities 202
5.11 Opportunities for Non-Technical Services Using Wearable Computers 202
5.12 Marketing Suggestions 203
APPENDIX A................................................................................................................. 205
APPENDIX B.................................................................................................................. 215
APPENDIX C................................................................................................................. 224

APPENDIX D................................................................................................................. 226
APPENDIX E.................................................................................................................. 227
APPENDIX F.................................................................................................................. 230
BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................................................................................................... 232

List of Figures
Number Page
Figure 1.1. MicroOpticals SVC Display with CharmIt 9
Figure 1.2 Xybernauts Poma Image #1 10
Figure 1.3 Xybernauts Poma Image #2 10
Figure 1.4 MicroOptical Display Image #1 11
Figure 1.5 MicroOptical Display Image #2 12
Figure 1.6 The Twiddler 13
Figure 2.1 The Adoption-Diffusion Curve 41
Figure 2.2 Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market 44
Figure 2.3 Innovation Adoption Curve 60
Figure 2.4 Early Subscriber Growth for Select Telecomm. Services 62
Figure 3.1 Survey #1: Mobile Device Ownership 77
Figure 3.2 Survey #1: Daily Technology Use 79
Figure 3.3 Survey #1: Interest in Daily Technology Use While Mobile 80
Figure 3.4 Focus Group: Mobile Device Ownership 90
Figure 3.6 Survey #1: Emotional Reaction to Wearable Computers 103
Figure 3.7 Survey #1: Friend's Potential Reaction to Wearable Computer 106
Figure 3.7 Survey #2: Display Preferences 113
Figure 3.8 Survey #2: Purchasing Wearable Computers in Clothing 129

Figure 3.9 Survey #2: Interest in Smart Fabric Products 129
Figure 3.10 Survey #2: Preference for Wearable Computers in Clothing 132
Figure 3.11 Survey #1: Most Interesting Wearable Computing Feature 145
Figure 3.12 Survey #1: Issues Which Would Prevent Purchase 148

New technology development often takes inspiration from science fiction and
stretches the established social concept of what is possible. Wearable computers have
followed that type of technology development pattern for over 20 years while
simultaneously envisioning and implementing real solutions for defense, commercial
and retail uses. Within those arenas, having a fully-functioning computer that allows for
hands-free access to data and the ability to complete computational functions while
mobile provides measurable benefits.
Forays into the consumer market for wearable computers have only just begun.
Two companies have introduced the wearable computer to the consumer market.
Xybernaut Corporations Poma and Charmed Technologys CharmIt product have been
developed for the consumers market. Neither firm has conducted a thorough analysis of
the consumer market beyond the first-to-adopt section of consumers. In addition, the
wearable computing industry has yet to conduct an analysis of consumer interest in this
technology. Are early adopter consumers interested in wearable computers? Or, is the
technology so beyond their realm of interest or comprehension that addressing this
market segment is a waste of wearable computer firms marketing resources? Cutting-
edge technologies like wearable devices could evoke negative associations with
consumers. Brad King wrote for the WIRED article The Computer Looks Great on
You that, The idea of the wearable computer evokes scary thoughts of sci-fi super-

soldiers, intelligent cyborgs and an always-on government tracking its citizens.1 Is this
type of negative association with wearable computers a universal issue for consumers?
This thesis will address these issues by gathering input from early adopter
consumers about what type of features they are most interested in, which functionality
would entice them to purchase a wearable computing product, and what issues and pre-
existing attitudes consumers have about wearable computers that will hinder its
This thesis examines the early consumer markets potential adoption of wearable
computers by determining which wearable computer features and applications would
appeal to consumers, by outlining whether the network infrastructure exists to truly
support mass mobile computing, and by examining which pre-existing consumer
attitudes and reactions to wearable computers will influence the products adoption.
This thesis will employ a variety of research strategies (which include literature
reviews, market analysis and the collection of feedback from consumers) to highlight the
issues influencing wearable computers successful adoption by the early adopter
consumer market. The research for this thesis is divided into three types of strategies
(literature review, infrastructure analysis and consumer feedback) formulated over four

1 Brad King, "That Computer Looks Great on You," WIRED, March 12 2002.

The first chapter explores the history, development, features, and applications of
wearable computers and the state of current consumer wearable computing products. It
presents a discussion of wearable computers influential inventors, current market
presence, and industry focus. This chapter also outlines the consumer products various
functionality and applications.
The second chapter examines a multitude of theories that shed insight into how
to present a new technology to the early adopter consumer market. This chapter outlines
the academic study of product adoption and new product market prediction as well as
the study of consumer behavior. Various methods and theories from these academic
fields are reviewed and their direct application to early adopter consumers interest and
potential purchase of wearable computers is explored.
The third chapter presents the findings from the direct data collection conducted
for this thesis. The three data collection efforts consisted of two web surveys driven by
email invitations, one focus group, and one daily use trial of Xybernaut Corporation's
Poma product by a member of the target market. The Poma product was chosen as the
wearable computing example because it was more extensively marketed to consumers
than the CharmIt product, and its price ($1,200 vs. $3,500) is more suited to this market.
The first data collection effort used two email-driven/web-based surveys that asked early
adopter consumers different sets of questions about their feelings and associations with
wearable computers, wearable computer displays, and their integration with smart

clothing.2 The second type of data collection was a focus group where selected
respondents from the surveys were invited to use Xybernaut Corporations Poma and
provide feedback. Finally, a test subject was selected out of the focus group to use the
Poma on a daily basis and he recorded his social interactions and comments about
product usability.3
Based on clear indications from consumers in this study that being able to access
full page Internet content while mobile is the application that will fuel adoption of
wearable computers, the fourth chapter outlines the evolution and current state of the
two wide-range standards for wireless data transmission within the US WiFi and
cellular.4 An overview of network economic theories is discussed to assist in examining
how current wireless network limitations will impede the adoption of wearable
computers by early adopting consumers.

2 The full set of questions used for the two surveys are located in the Appendixes.
3Usability is defined in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standard Computer
Dictionary as: the ease with which a user can learn to operate, prepare inputs for, and interpret outputs of
a system or component.
4 This is instead of the clipped and abbreviated web content that is now displayed on mobile devices.

This thesis concludes with an outline of the current challenges and opportunities
presented by the network infrastructure, consumer attitudes toward wearable computers,
and product feedback. Product enhancement suggestions and messaging points are
presented for use by wearable computing firms in their marketing of the next generation
wearable computers to this market. Finally, this thesis presents a prediction for the
potential adoption of wearable computers by early adopting consumers.

Chapter 1: Wearable Computers Overview
Why should you care about the wearable computer? Not because it is some
dangerous new bugaboo with the potential to destroy all life on the planet with
the flip of a switch, but for precisely the opposite reason: Because it is
everywhere, as ubiquitous as it is invisible, capable of changing the everyday
minutiae of how we go about our lives, permeating our consciousness, altering
fears, desires, and ways of being. You should care because the wearable
computer is at once strange and familiar; alien and domestic, a dangerous foe and
your new best friend. You should care because, unlike the doomsday-opening
scenario you might have been expecting, soon our lives will be dramatically
changed by the wearable computer. But the world will look pretty much the same
- and most of us wont even notice.5
The development of a formal definition for a particular piece of technology often
emerges after a customer group has used the product in an established market, and
wearable computers are no exception. Generally, a wearable computer can be
described as a fully functional, self-powered, self-contained computer that is worn on
the body, providing access to and interaction with information anywhere and at
anytime.6 Physically, the apparatus consists of a battery-powered, wearable Internet-
connected computer system with a miniature eyeglass-mounted screen and the
appropriate optics to form a virtual image equivalent to an ordinary desktop

5 Hal Niedzviecki Steve Mann, Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the
Wearable Computer (Toronto: DoubleDay Canada, 2002).
6 T. Mann Starner, S. Rhodes, B. Levine, J . Healy, J .Kirsch, D. PicardR, and Pentland, A., "Augmented
Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments," in
Fundamentals of Wearable Computing (1997).pp. 6.

multimedia computer before the users field of vision. Because the device is tetherless,
it travels with the user, presenting a computer screen that either appears superimposed
on top of the real world, or represents the real world as a video image.7 Different
product models take on different shapes, but the majority of the models consist of a
central processing unit (CPU) the size of a paperback book worn clipped to a belt
around the waist with a pair of eyeglasses, or a band around the head that has a screen
over one eye to render the display. Models also have some sort of an input device
usually either an optical mouse, embedded keyboard, chording device (a device which
requires keys being pressed simultaneously for each character typed - like playing a
chord on a piano or guitar) or voice recognition technology.
Wearable computers differ from traditional handheld devices in a variety of ways.
First, they are fully-functioning computers with all of the computing power of a
desktop system. Secondly, they often use Head Mounted Displays (HMD) to render
the display.8 Thirdly, different products use a variety of input devices to enter data into
the system that are not keyboard based and include: optical mice, voice recognition and
chording. Fouthly, the human interaction with the system is different due to its

8 In this instance, a fully-functioning computer refers to a computing device that can run various
software applications and can provide users with the same range of office support, entertainment and
communication that they can expect from a desktop computer.

always-on state. Finally, due to their constant use while mobile their battery power
needs are different from other mobile devices.
1.1.1 Fully-functioning Computers
The first feature that distinguishes wearable computers from other mobile devices is
the strength of its computing power. Often compared to handheld devices such as
personal digital assistants (PDA), wearable computers take mobile computing one step
further.9, 10 Thus, wearable computers, unlike traditional handhelds, are fully
functional computers that can offer as much computing power as a desktop computer.
For instance, wearable computer applications used by the military feature full color
schematics overlaid on maps of the battlefield. These types of features are far more
sophisticated than Palm Pilots Pocket Word program.
1.1.2 Head Mounted Displays
The second unique features used by wearable computers is their use of HMDs. One of
the most visually distinguishing factors unique to wearable computers is their use of a
HMDs instead of a small screen embedded in the device. There are two major designs
for HMDs. The first consists of eyeglasses with a small LCD display attached to (or

9 PDAs within this thesis is loosely defined as computers that can conveniently be stored in a pocket (of
sufficient size) and used while the user is holding it
10 whatis?com, Handheld [website] (December 23, 2002 2002 [cited February 25 2003]).

embedded into) the lens which works by casting a floating display three feet in front of
the wearer's eyes (like MicroOpticals SVC display used with the CharmIt see Figure

MicroOpticals SVC Display with CharmIt
Figure 1.1
Courtesy of Charmed Technologies
The second display used in consumer products consists of a band around the forehead
with a small screen that hangs in front of the users right or left eye (like the Poma
See Figure 1.2 and Figure 1.3)


Xybernauts Poma Image #1
Figure 1.2
Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation

Xybernauts Poma Image #2
Figure 1.3
Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation

Video-Based Systems Vs. Optical Systems
The type of HMD used determines how the image is displayed for the user and how the
user is able to view reality while wearing the system. There are two options: one, an
optical based system or two, a video based system. With optical based systems, the
user is able to view the real world directly with one or both eyes and the system
overlays computer graphics or text on top of the users view of the real world. Optical
see-through HMDs are worn like glasses with an optical system attached to a location
that does not interfere with visibility (usually off to the right side of the right eyeglass

lens). MicroOptical is the leading producer of this type of unobtrusive display (see
Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5).

MicroOptical Display Image #1
Figure 1.4 Courtesy of MicroOptical

MicroOptical Display Image #2
Figure 1.5 - Courtesy of MicroOptical

The other system used with HMDs are video-based systems where the user can
either view live video or real-world scenes which are combined with overlaid computer
graphics or text. Video based see-though displays are opaque displays that use cameras
near the eyes to present live video on the display. Using chroma or luminance keying
techniques (keying is the electronic means of replacing a particular value -color, or
chrominance vs. brightness, or luminance- with another), the computer then fuses the
video with the virtual image(s) to create a video-based augmented reality
environment12 All of these designs are available in either monocular (one eye) or
binocular (two eyes) configurations. The Poma is only available as an optical display
while the CharmIt can use either display.
1.1.3 Input Devices
The third feature that distinguishes wearable computers from other computing
devices is their use of unique input devices. Wearable computers, due to their mobile
nature, demand input devices that are different from the mouse and keyboard devices
used by desktop and laptop computers. The variety of input devices for wearable
computers runs the gamut of the imagination and new alternatives for data input are
being created in wearable academic labs around the world. Currently, wearable
computer systems use body-mounted keyboards, speech recognition software, hand-held

12 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual

keyboards (or touch screens) and chording devices (see Figure 1.6 for an example of a
chording device called the Twiddler).

The Twiddler
Figure 1.6
In addition, devices such as IBMs Intellipoint, track balls, data gloves, optical
mice, and the Twiddler are used to take the place of a traditional mouse.
Future research into input devices is focused on allowing the user to direct the
computers actions by thought patterns or emotional states through body-monitoring
devices based on thought patterns or heart rate. The peripherals they develop run the
gamut from the rather mundane (like a forehead sensor that can operate your computer
by movement and blinks of an eye) to the more radical (like the US Air Force Human
Engineering Divisions work on a brain-activated computer-controlled device that is

Environments." pp. 10

triggered by reading brain waves).13 Brain-wave reading input devices are not just the
stuff of fantasy. J ennifer Healey at MITs Media Lab has built an affective computer
that can read the biometric signals of the user and play music to suit the users mood and
emotional state.14 An affective system might be very beneficial for training aimed at
changing ingrained behaviors or altering unconscious reactions to stimuli that cause
stress or fear. Researchers at the University of Rochester equipped a virtual reality
helmet so that is able to recognize key brain signals (and while inside a virtual room),
users can currently turn on appliances by just wishing it so.15 Wearable research centers
are also focused on utilizing haptic devices (haptic devices allow human-machine
interaction through force and touch) to allow for input. The use of haptic devices would
provide the user a realistic experience by providing direct physical perception of digital
1.1.4 Always-On Functionality
The fourth distinguishing feature of wearable computers, which differentiates
them from other mobile devices, is that they are always-on, allowing the user to use the

13 Thomas Bass, "Dress Code," WIRED, April 1998.
14 Ibid.
15 Aries Keck, "Wishful Thinking: Controlling Your World with Brain Waves,", J une 9
16 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual
Environments." pp. 13

products features while accomplishing other tasks. Computer users are accustomed to
an interaction with their computer that is initiated by their actions, and this changes that
paradigm of human computer interaction (HCI). With wearables, computing is not the
main task interacting with the environment is; the wearable either enhances or
supports the users interaction with the environment through providing additional
information necessary for the task at hand. Thad Starner, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Wearable Computing Project17 alumni and founder of Charmed
Technologies (the only wearable computing company solely focused on developing a
consumer product) cites this feature of wearable computers as the most fundamental
shift in HCI. When asked about the challenges facing the adoption of wearable
computers, Starner states, "It's possible to have interactions with your computer that you
don't initiate. That's the change that's going to be so fundamental."18 Unlike other
mobile devices that require the user to divert their attention toward the computing task,
wearable devices allow for a minimal amount of interference between the computing
task and the user. This allows a greater ability to maintain eye contact with the external
environment while conducting a computing task when one or both hands are busy.

17 MIT Wearable Computing Project at the MIT Media Laboratory was founded and maintained by
students who were interested in the intimate and everyday use of wearable computers, and emphasis was
placed on augmenting the mind and senses of the user.
18 Manny Frishberg, "What to Wear: Why Not a Computer?," WIRED, October 10 2002.

1.1.5 Power supply
The final distinguishing factor for wearable computers is their need for longer
lasting batteries. Due to wearable computers always-on state, these systems rely on
batteries that are longer lasting than what is necessary in current mobile technologies.
Research into power supplies for wearable computers has spawned a rash of research
developments that enhance battery life. German scientists are developing synthetic
fibers that generate electricity when exposed to light and have stated that the fibers could
be woven into machine-washable clothes to create the ultimate in portable solar cells.
Academic research groups are also experimenting with technology that creates power by
capturing the friction created by walking by imbedding a device in the wearers shoe.
The body is a lousy conductor surrounded by a good conductor," Post
said. Holding up a shiny, specially rigged leather Nike shoe to illustrate, he
explained that the 60 watts of energy generated by an average step could provide
power -- and eliminate wires -- for point to point," Post said.19
Current wearable computers have limited battery life. The Poma only has three hours
of battery life and the CharmIt has twelve, but is significantly heavier because of the
longer lasting batteries, while research into longer, lightweight batteries is ongoing.
Current devices are plagued by short batter life or a significant increase in weight to
accommodate more battery power.

19 Lisa Napoli, "Wearable Computer: The User Interface Is You," The New York Times, October 14

Computer inventors associated with MIT Media Labs Wearable Computing
Project developed the modern concept of wearable computers. The man who is hailed
as the father of wearable computers was always fascinated with electrical engineering
and as a teenager, began to play with computing devices to alter his reality and
perception of the world. Steven Mann initially developed his wearable computer in the
1970s as a reality and memory enhancement device.20 Mann brought his inventions to
MIT in 1991, where he became the catalyst for the Universitys establishment of the
MIT Wearable Computing Laboratory. He helped foster global discussions on the topic
by proposing the first International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
International Symposium on Wearable Computing. As a member of the advisory board
of Xybernaut, and a current faculty member at University of Torontos Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering, he is still involved in enhancing the wearable
computing industry and developing new applications for wearable computers.
Mann created the most advanced wearable computer in existence, and therefore,
it is important to consider his personal wearable computers (the WearComp) features
and applications when analyzing which features and applications would be attractive to
the consumer market. He built the world's first covert fully functional WearComp with

display and camera concealed in ordinary eyeglasses in 1995. He has been plugged into
his advanced system almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week ever since.
Mann uses his wearable computer to enhance his senses and support his intellect. His
wearable inventions have undergone numerous modifications over the years, and as the
worlds oldest cyborg, his wearable equipment allows him to view the real world
through his left eye, and his right eye sees the projection of a computer screen that
displays the processed images recorded by the camera within the eyeglasses lens.21
Those processed images have been modified by Mann to filter out advertising and to
display various text notes next to objects for which he would like additional information.
His privacy block feature (which blocks or modifies advertisements) helps him limit the
number of intrusions into what he calls his humanistic property the mental space that
surrounds him. Manns WearComp also has biometric feedback built into the system to
monitor his heart rate and vital signs, data he inputs into the system via a chording
All of this connectedness separates Mann from even the most innovative of
users, and he realizes that he is a bit odd.
People find me peculiar. They think its odd that I spend most of my
waking hours wearing eight or nine Internet-connected computers sewn into my

21 As defined by Mann: cyborg, n. a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent
upon a mechanical or electronic device

clothing and that I wear opaque wrap-around glasses day and night, inside and
outdoors. 22
His work is not to be discredited however, and many of his more advanced
features are being used and modified for specific commercial applications.23
The other prominent developer of wearable computing devices is Thad Starner,
who worked with Mann in the Wearable Computing Group at MITs Media Lab.
Starner began wearing his computer in 1993. Starner is now a professor at Georgia
Tech in Atlanta and president of Charmed Technology, the wearable computing firm
solely focused on developing consumer wearable technology products. Starners
personal wearable computer is based on a pair of black-rimmed glasses that are similar
to Manns, however Starners model is an optical vs. a video-driven display
These two most prominent inventors in the field share different perspectives on
application of wearable computers. You could characterize Mann and Starner as being
on different ends of the inventor spectrum. Mann could be characterized as the idealist,
who creates technology for technology sake, and Starner is the more economically
practical inventor; creating advancements in technology to meet consumer interest and
need. Mann is fascinated with how wearable computers can filter reality and allow the
user ultimate control over his intellectual space. "Steve's [Mann] lifelong experiment

22 Steve Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community.," Technology Review 102, no. 3 (1999).
23 For instance, like the application of wearable computers to support self-directed walking tours.

with wearable computers gives us a sort of a living metaphor for our everyday
coexistence with technology," explains Laurier's David Black, an event organizer for a
2002 lecture series (at which Mann was a speaker) at Wilfrid Laurier University. "In the
extreme nature of his cyborg self we have a glimpse or understanding of our everyday
codependency with technology. He's living five minutes in the future."24 However,
many have found Mann hard to relate to. He approaches technology in a more
anarchistic way," says Peter Lynch, Canadian filmmaker who assisted Mann in the
making of his documentary, Cyberman.25 Starner, on the other hand, is less interested
in exploring how wearable computers can alter reality and personal psychology, and is
more interested in how it can be adapted for real world applications. Starner realizes
that wearable computings success lies in making it non-obtrusive in response to the
influence social interaction and fashion has on consumer interest in the product. The
goal, says Starner, is to have the computer disappear into your clothes so that no one
knows you have it.26

24 Steven Mann, Cyborg: ([cited February 25 2003]); available from
25 J ennifer Martin, "Speakers Series Lecture Examines Cyborgs and Cyber Pop" (paper presented at the
Laurier Communications Studies Speakers Series, Wilfrid Laurier University, March 27, 2002 2002).
26 Stefan Theil, "Love Those Wearables!," Newsweek (2001).

Both inventors provided intellectual support for wearable computers entrance
into the defense, commercial and retail industries. They have been used for a range of
applications including managing ticket theft at sporting events, and advanced check-in at
high-end hotels. There are only two companies, however, that sell wearable computing
products for consumers. They are Xybernaut Corporation (XYBR) founded in 1990 out
of Fairfax, VA and Charmed Technology founded in 2002 out of Santa Monica, CA.
Not surprisingly, Mann & Starner provided the intellectual spark behind both companies
(Mann for Xybernaut and Starner for Charmed).27 The companies have taken different
approaches to the market with Xybernaut collaborating with Hitachi to product a
simplified wearable product with few applications called the Poma at a price point of
$1500 a unit. Charmed Technology produces and sells the CharmIt a true-fully-
functioning computer on its own at a price point of over $3,500.28
Partially due to its early relationship with Mann, its client relationship with the
U.S. Department of Defense, and supported by its vast number of intellectual patents,
Xybernaut has become the largest of wearable computer firms. With offices in Asia,
Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and revenues of $9.5 million in 2000, Xybernaut

27 Charmed Technologys sales are in the $500,000 to $1 million range, and Xybernauts sales are $10-
$20 million range with all of its subsidiaries.
See Appendix F for detailed product information about the CharmIt and Poma.

has been able to apply its research, development, and commercialization of wearable
technology to provide mobile computing solutions to clients around the world. In
November 2001, Xybernaut announced a manufacturing-and-marketing deal with IBM
which Xybernaut officials expected would help them sell the strap-on computers to
consumers. The consumer market never really appeared, and, while its cash
dwindled, Xybernaut couldn't break out of the red. It lost $26.6 million (37 cents per
share) on $10 million in revenue in 2002. It had lost even more, $32.2 million (63
cents) on $9.8 million in revenue, in 2001.29 In April 2003, Xybernaut announced
that it had backed out of the deal, had plans to cut the cost of its product by 20% and
has turned to IBM Global Finance for a line of credit in exchange for a security
interest in its assets. Clearly, a victim of the larger economic climate in the technology
industry in 2003, Xybernaut is still the company best positioned to develop an
enhanced consumer product.
Xybernaut, as the market leader, is better positioned to develop and market a
consumer wearable device than Charmed Technology; though Charmed is more focused
on the consumer market (this is shown by the fact that they only develop and sell a
consumer wearable products). Ultimately, consumers will only be interested in wearable

29 Ellen McCarthy, "Xybernaut Calls Off $50 Million Ibm Deal,", April 9 2003.

computers if they are offered at a price that they find attractive, and Xybernaut is the
only company that (through its existing partnerships) could produce the units in
sufficient volume to drop the price within a range consumers can handle.
The key to developing a marketing strategy for products like the Poma rests in
identifying and communicating how the product fits a distinct consumer need or can
accomplish a current consumer task in a more efficient manner. The environment that
existed within the high tech industry of being able to sell a technology solely on its cool
factor is long gone. Consumers and corporations alike are only interested in purchasing
technology when the technology fills a clear need and has an understandable use that is
either personally enhancing or is able to increase workers efficiency. Whereas the cool
factor is the main draw for the innovator market, it is not enough of a rationale for the
early consumer market to purchase and try these products.
Unfortunately for wearable computers, whereas the use for the product are
limitless, a killer app which would help catapult the product from the halls of academic
institutions to the consumer market has not yet been identified.30 Mark Spitzer, CEO of
MicroOptical agrees that a killer application must be identified for successful adoption.

30 Killer app is a slang contraction of killer application. A killer application is a successful and popular
software application (often written by a third party), that is generally perceived to be superior in function
or that employs the latest and most impressive techniques.

People are still in the 'It's cool, but what does it do?' phase. We need an
application for consumers, perhaps something that evolves out of communication
devices like cell phones and email and pagers. That's the missing piece right
Similarly, the corporate applications for wearable computers (like assembly lines
where the product is allowing for hands-free data input) do not directly translate into an
application that fills a distinct consumer need.
Current consumer wearable computers offer the same applications that are used
with a desktop computer (Microsoft Office applications, web browsers, etc) only while
mobile. Neither consumer product offers applications that use and enhance the
products mobile capabilities.
There are a variety of computing features that currently are not offered by data
telephony or wireless laptop technologies that could be offered by wearable computers.
These features include:
Usable while portable: wearable computers can be used while walking or moving
Hands-free: Many wearables emphasize the hands-free aspect relying on speech
input and heads-up display or voice input. Other wearables use chording
keyboards, dials, optical joysticks etc to minimize the use of the users hands by

31 "Booting up Something More Comfortable," Wired Magazine, October 14 1997.

Sensors: Wearables can have a variety of informational centers so that the product
can provide just-in-time information without interrupting the user like GPS,
wireless communications, cameras, or microphones.
Many of the above features have encouraged the development of innovative
applications in academic research labs that, while not currently offered by consumer
wearables, might be of interest to consumers. For instance, the video-based models
offer applications that offer the user the ability to share experiences via video while
mobile, the ability to have the computing system aid in recognition, and the ability to
view customized, GPS-driven information while mobile.

1.5.1 Sharing Experiences via Video
The first unique application that may be of interest to consumers is sharing
experiences via video while mobile. Using the video display to communicate with
others and alter the users perspective on reality is a feature that Mann uses daily:
Every morning I decide how I will see the world that day. Sometimes I
give myself eyes in the back of my head. Other days I add a sixth sense, such as
the ability to feel objects at a distanceI see some items as hyper-objects that I
can click on and bring to life. I can choose stroboscopic vision to freeze the
motion of rotating automobile tires and see how many bolts are on the wheels of
a car going over 60 miles per hour, as if it was motionless. I can block out the
view of particular objects sparing me the distraction, for example, of the vast
sea of advertising around me. While I am grocery shopping, my wife who
may be at home or in her office - sees exactly what I see and helps me pick out

vegetables. she can imprint images into my retina while she is seeing what I
Whether or not this feature is of interest to consumers is hard to predict without
field trials. However, the mobile industry is currently marketing products to user that
will allow them to share life experiences while mobile using camera phones.
The key to the power of mobiles -- is that they liberate people from their
desktop telephones and computers, moving the action out to that much larger
portion of life that encompasses wherever and whenever humans roam.33
Whereas mobile communications are now commonplace among consumers,
consumer data collection will provide a more accurate indication of whether or not this
feature appeals to consumers.
1.5.2 Remembrance Agents
The wearable computer application that is unique and suited to this technology is
the development of augmented memory systems. Palms history has shown that users
are interested in conducting specific tasks while mobile, like using day-planners, address
books and note taking options. However, these types of memory agents do not work in
the same way as users are accustomed to remembering information. Hierarchical
directories or structured data such as calendar programs help only if the data itself is

32 Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community.."
33 J oel Garreau, "Cell Biology: Like the Bee, This Evolving Species Buzzes and Swarms," The
Washington Post, J uly 31, 2002 2002.

very structured and break down whenever a file or query doesnt fit into the pre-
designed structure.34 The wearable computers Remembrance Agent is a program that
continually runs in the background, watches the users actions and displays one-line
summaries of note-files, old email, papers and other textual information that might be
relevant to the users current context. The example used most often imagines a user
taking notes at conference; the remembrance agent suggests relevant documents.
Additionally, the always-on feature that wearables offer does not require the user to
make a suggestion in order to receive the information.
One common practice among the wearable users at conferences is to type
in the name of every person met while shaking hands. There have been times
when the remembrance agent has reminded the wearer that the person whose
name was entered was actually been met before, and has suggested the notes
taken from the previous conversation.35
Assistance in remembering items and names seem like a universal social need,
and this feature may prove to be the killer app if partnered with truly ubiquitous
hardware. However, only consumer data collection and field trials will reveal if
consumers are truly interested.

34 Bradley J . Rhodes, "A Wearable Remembrance Agent: A System for Augmented Memory," Personal
Technologies Special Issue on Wearable Computing, no. 1 (1997). pp. 2
35 Ibid. pp. 3

1.5.3 GPS Driven Information
The third application that is being tested in academic labs and may be of interest
to consumers I the display of GPS supported information while mobile. Wearable
computers can provide the user with augmented information about their environment
that can include, GPS driven, context sensitive information and displays. A combination
of these features creates interesting real-world applications. For example, the Deep Map
project funded by the Klaus-Tschira-Stiftung is focused on using wearable computers as
mobile tour guides for museums and city tours.36 With embedded GPS technology, the
devices allow visitors to gain information about the object or building in front of them
based on their geographical position. With this feature, it is potentially possible for
visitors to see an overlay of what the building looked like in the 1920s on top of the
current architecture.37
Unfortunately, consumer use of GPS for positioning purposes has three
shortcomings. First, the accuracy of stand-alone commercially available GPS receivers
is limited to 20 meters or so. Second, it is possible to lose satellite visibilities when

36 The coalition of companies involved in the research include: European Media Laboratory in
cooperation with the University of Heidelberg, Department of Geography and Department of
Computational Logistics; Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics in Darmstadt: Interactive Systems
Labs at the University of Karlsruhe and at CMU in Pittsburgh, Institute of Photogrammetry, University
of Stuttgart, University of Mannheim, Technische Informatik, Deutsches Forschungszentrum fr
Kunstliche Intelligenz (DFKI).
37 J im Nash, "Wiring the J et Set," WIRED, October 1997.

nearby buildings or dense foliage blocks a substantial part of the sky and the signal.
Signal loss is most noticeable in the downtown areas of moderate to large cities where a
concentration of tall buildings at times occludes much of the sky from street-level
location. Third, distortion is created by reflections of the GPS signal from nearby
structures. 38
1.5.4 Intersection with Smart Fabrics
There are other technologies in development that may be able to provide benefits
and advanced features for wearable computers. The hardware used for input devices
and the CPU pieces of the wearable systems are heavy, bulky, and not aesthetically
pleasing. Developing hardware solutions that address these issues has spawned a
division of wearable computer research focused primarily on developing lightweight
devices that are easy to wear (or in some cases) actually embedded into the users
clothing. Industry analyst, Tim Shea, has been widely quoted as predicting that the
future of wearable computers will be intimately linked to the development of computing
systems that are woven into fabrics (referred to as e-textiles or smart fabric). . MIT
Media Lab alumni and President of International Fashion Machines, Maggie Orth is
dedicated to the development of smart fabric The tactile and material properties of
what people wear are important to them, and people are reluctant to have wires and hard

38 Fundamentals of Wearable Computers and Augmented Reality, ed. Woodrow Barfield & Thomas

plastic cases against their bodies.39 Orth and the other fledgling corporations that have
stimulated interest in the development of smart fabrics and have promoted the
perception that when worn on the body, consumers are looking for a device that is
Orths smart clothing consists of using silk organza threads (similar to the
metallic yarn that has been used for years for decorative purposes in clothing
manufacturing) and metallic yarn (which is prepared similar to cloth-core telephone
wire) to create computing devices that are embedded or partially made out of cloth. The
yarn is embroidered into cloth by using gripper snaps as the connectors between the
fabric and electronics. Since the snap pierces the yarn it creates a surprisingly robust
electrical contact. It also provides a good surface to solder to. In this way subsystems
can be easily snapped into clothing or removed for washing.41
While this low-tech solution to a high-tech problem seems far-fetched, the
technology works and initial consumer tests with wearable keyboards have initially been

Caudell (Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2001). pp. 443
39 E. Rehmi Post & Maggie Orth, "Smart Fabric, or Washable Computing" (paper presented at the First
IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers, Cambridge, MA, 1997).
40 Steve Mann Woodrow Barfield, Kevin Baird, Francine Gemperle, Chris Kasabach, J ohn Stivoric,
Malcolm Bauer, Richard Martin, Gilsoo Cho., "Computational Clothing and Accessories," in
Fundamentals of Wearable Computing. pp. 477
41 Orth, "Smart Fabric, or Washable Computing". pp. 3

positive. In one test (Orth presented the results at the First IEEE International
Symposium on Wearable Computers), 50 denim jackets were embroidered with a
keyboard pattern. Some of the jackets were equipped with miniature MIDI synthesizers
that were controlled by the keypad. She presented that, The responsiveness of the
keyboard to touch and timing were found by several users to be excellent.42 Since that
presentation, smart fabrics have found their way into the consumer market in other
forms. For example, during the Christmas 2001 season, Foster-Miller Inc., Polartec, and
Lands End introduced the retail market to heated blankets made of four percent metallic
fiber that created the embedding circuitry. The blankets were cozy without any clunky,
uncomfortable wires.43 Many major clothing manufacturers (like Levi Strauss and
Nike) and high technology firms (like IBM and Philips) have seen the benefit of being
involved in smart fabric research.
Making other parts of the computing device flexible and embedded in cloth has
engaged the attention of Xeroxs Research Center of Canada, which has also announced
the development of a printed organic electronic or POE transistors. These transistors are
reliable enough to replace the silicon integrated circuits that make LCDs so expensive.
POE circuits, which can be sprayed on flexible plastic sheets, may be the breakthrough

42 Ibid. pp. 4
43 Bob Sullivan, "Finally in Fashion?," MSNBC, October 9 2002.

technology that makes gadgets like roll-up TV screens and truly paper-thin electronic
paper feasible.44
Most of this technology is still in the testing phases. Smart fabrics are still unable to
make every piece of computer hardware soft enough to blend with cloth and making
the embedded wires truly soft enough to wear. There are still pieces of hardware that
will be stiff and will need to be sewn into an invisible pocket or accommodated in
some other way.
There are however going to be parts of wearable computers (power
supplies for example) that are not going to be easily made of fabric. These parts
will always be solid forms, but they need to be plastic bricks.45
Researchers attending a Materials Research Society meeting admitted that
current e-textiles are too brittle to wear.46 Smart fabric is limited in its ability to
contribute to some of the challenges of wearable computing features beyond being able
to make most the hardware invisible or embedded in cloth. Smart fabric research does
not directly propose solutions for improvements in input devices or display
improvements. Therefore, contrary to industry hype, beyond consumer interest in the

44 Mark Baard, "E-Fabrics Still Too Stiff to Wear," WIRED, December 5 2002.
45 Woodrow Barfield, "Computational Clothing and Accessories." pp. 487
46 Baard, "E-Fabrics Still Too Stiff to Wear."

novelty of the product, the impact smart fabrics will have on wearable computer
research is limited.
1.5.5 Intersection with NanoTechnology
Advances in nanotechnology will provide yet unknown advancements in
wearable computers. Some of the envisioned benefits include lighter batteries, unique
ways to generate power, smaller CPUs, and different display options. Three to four
years from now well be able to construct a 16,000-byte memory which will only be a
few microns in size thats one-hundredth the size of a human hair, commented Philip
Kuekes, senior scientist and computer architect in Quantum Science Research at
Hewlett-Packard laboratories. Were going 100 times smaller than whats out there
now. It will be small enough to fit in the fibers of your shirt.47 Alex Lightman from
Charmed Technologies agrees and predicts, . we firmly believe that we will have
molecular-based wearable computing that can store gigabits of information all on Star
Trek-like communication badge, that in turn is connected through a broadband
communications link to the rest of the world filled with billions of similar devices.48
However, unless the nanotechnology research results in a contact lens display, issues of

47 Lizette Wilson, "Wearable Tech: Tiny Microchips and Futuristic Materials Inspire Designers to
Create Electronics You Can Really Get Into," San Francisco Business Times, November, 1-7 2002.
48 Alex Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet (New
York, NY: J ohn Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002). pp. 12

display and input will still remain one of wearable computers largest obstacles for
adoption, and like smart fabrics, nanotechnologys level of impact on wearable
computers real challenge to adoption will be limited.

Chapter 2: Product Adoption Theory
There is an academic field of study that follows new product development and
marketing and focuses on creating models, defining universal characteristics behind
consumer adoption of new technologies, and creating formulas for predicting diffusion
rates for new innovations. 49,50. The work of product adoption researchers Everett
Rogers and Geoffrey Moore are both widely used for their outline of the stages of the
decision making process, their categorization of consumers into groups depending upon
their rate of adoption of new innovations, and their definition of attributes and other
factors that impact product adoption. This chapter will provide an overview of their
work as well as other models and methodologies used to define potential audience
segments that are prone to adopt new technologies, and will assess the strengths and
challenges inherent within a product that could inhibit its adoption. This chapter will
also look at the philosophical premise behind the models used to predict technology
adoption and will discuss their strengths and weaknesses. This chapter will also look at
models of consumer behavior to highlight the consumer motivators and attitudes that
will affect adoption. Finally, this chapter will outline the models and methodologies

49 Diffusion is defined as the process by which an innovation is adopted and gains acceptance by
members of a certain community.
50 Innovation within this thesis refers to the invention of new technologies, products and production
processes, through the successful exploitation of ideas.

most applicable to predicting the adopter market for wearable computer products, and
defining the product strengths and weaknesses and the market challenges and
opportunities that could accelerate or hinder its adoption.
2 Product Adoption and Diffusion Theories
Diffusion research is the philosophical foundation behind the development of
marketing positioning strategies that use psychographics segmentation profiles to
identify the most receptive target markets for a particular innovation or product.
Diffusion research, in its simplest form, investigates how factors such as the product
itself, how information about the product is disseminated, the nature of the social system
to which the product is introduced and a multitude of other factors that interact to
facilitate or impede the adoption of a specific product among members of a particular
adopter group.51
Roger has written the seminal work on innovation adoption and diffusion. His
work outlines five factors that influence the rate of an innovations adoption. They
include: the perceived attributes of the innovation, the number of people involved in the
adoption decision (individual vs. an organization), the communication channels used to

51 Leyla Namiranian & Renee Hopkins, "Is There Such a Thing as
Early Adopters Fatigue?." pp. 199

promote the innovation, the nature of the social system into which the product is adopted
and the extent of the change agents promotional efforts.52 The Gartner Group
expanded his model and combined it with a range of theories developed by academic
and business writers focus on technology adoption. Those theories include the work of
Geoffrey Moore and his corporate technology adoption theory outlined in Crossing the
Chasm; Fred Daviss individual technology adoption theory in his Technology
Acceptance Modeling work; and Clayton Christensens examination of disruptive
technologys affect on consumer behavior in The Innovators Dilemma but with a
singular focus on consumer adoption of new technology. Their Customer Adoption
Roadmap looks at:
Consumer attitudes and behaviors toward the technology.
Market conditions, including product pricing, competition, and the maturity of the
business structure of participating companies.
Accelerators and inhibitors likely to affect the rate of the adoption moving to the
next stage.
Challenges and opportunities for the industries that participate in the product
Opportunities for non-technology marketers to take advantage of consumer use of
technologies as a service or product platform.53

52 Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, Fourth ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1995). pp. 207
53 Richard Trinker & Brian Smith, "Consumer Technology Adoption Roadmap," Gartner G2 (2002).
pp. 5-6

Garner Groups comprehensive guide will be modified for use within this thesis
by combining various factors of the most widely used models within a larger context.
2.1.1 Stages of Decision Making
The decision to purchase a new technology is a complex individual decision. It is
impacted by a variety of factors including the consumers personal characteristics and
background, the amount of education a consumer has about the product, and the amount
of influence from the consumers interpersonal social network. Rogers has defined a
series of stages that an individual experiences in the adoption process. According to
Rogers, the individual passes through five stages:
First knowledge of an innovation
Forming an attitude toward the innovation
Decision to adopt or reject the innovation
Implementation of the new idea and
Confirmation of this decision. 54
At each point in the decision-making stage continuum the consumers attitudes
and beliefs are affected by a variety of messages coming from mass media, personal

54 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 161

information gathering, the consumers interpersonal network, and product change
Consumers do not universally adopt new technology products when they are
introduced into the consumer market. There is one distinct difference between
consumer groups based on their speed to adopt a product once it reaches the market.
Based upon consumers individual personalities, socioeconomic status, and their attitude
toward technology they approach purchase and the use of technology differently.56 For
this reason, technology adoption and diffusion literature divides consumers into different
groups depending upon the amount of time it takes them from their first knowledge of a
technology to their successful adoption of the technology. Those groups are Innovators,
Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.57 Based on his research,
Rogers suggests that the percentages of adopters in the consumer market for each
category are as follows (see Figure 2.1):
Innovators 2.5%
Early Adopters 13.5%

55 The idea of change agents is based on the hypothesis that every successful idea is first embraced by a
small group of influencers before it spreads to the masses. Such influencers are early adopters, are
strongly connected to their communities, and are naturally vocal and credible.
56 Technology has two components: a hardware aspect and a software aspect.
57 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

Early Majority 34%
Late Majority 34%
Laggards 16%

Figure 2.1
Courtesy of Technology Marketing Group, Inc.58

58 Technology Marketing Group Inc., Ideas: Using the Adoption-Diffusion Model to
Anticipate Customers' Purchase Decisions [website] (Technology Marketing Group Inc., [cited February
10, 2003 2003]); available from

2.2.1 Innovators
Innovators are the first 2.5% who adopt a new technology and are interested in
exploring new, untested concepts and products, often willing to absorb high costs and
uncertainties for the reward of being first to adopt new technologies.59
2.2.2 Early Adopters
Early Adopters are the next 13.5% to adopt a product. They find it easy to
imagine, understand, and appreciate the benefits of a new technology, and are apt at
relating the potential benefits to their other concerns. The highest numbers of opinion
leaders are found among the early adopters. This group does not rely on well-
established references to make their buying decisions and instead prefer to rely on their
own intuition and vision.60
2.2.3 Early Majority
Early Majority is defined as the next 34% to adopt a product and is characterized
as deliberate and practical. They want to see reviews from well-established references
before buying. They need reassurance that the new technology is stable before

59 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 263-264
60 Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream
Customers (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 1991), Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 12.
61 Ibid.

2.2.4 Late Majority
Late Majority represents the next 34% to adopt a product. They are skeptical
about innovations and often only adopt a product because of the peer pressure from all
those who have already adopted. They do not tolerate uncertainty about a product well
and do not have the financial resources to switch products if the first does not meet their
2.2.5 Laggards
Laggards make up the final 16% to adopt. These consumers are often
characterized as traditionalists as well as isolationists. They often are suspicious of
new technologies, and are often least able to afford any technologies that are not certain
to succeed.63
2.2.6 Early Market vs. Mainstream Market
Innovators and Early Adopters generally have similar economic and social
characteristics. Early adopters have a shorter innovation-decision period (the time span
between learning about an innovation and deciding to purchase/adopt the product)
because they learn about the product earlier due to their interpersonal networks, and they
require fewer months or years to move from knowledge about the product to decision.

62 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 265.
63 Ibid. pp. 265.

Generally, they have more formal education, come from a higher socioeconomic status,
and more exposed to mass media communication, have a high level of interaction with
social change agents, and socially active within their interpersonal network and are more
cosmopolitan.64 Due to their similarities, they are often lumped together as a single
Geoffrey Moore redefined Rogers adopter categories to combine Innovators
and Early Adopters into one group The Early Market, and Early Majority and Late
Majority into a second group (the Mainstream Market). His work on the chasm
examines the gap in attitudes and behaviors that exists between the Early Market and
Mainstream Market discusses the different strategies needed to market to each group.
(See Figure 2.2) He goes on to predict that firms who do not take into account those
differences in communications strategies when marketing products often do not
successfully breach the chasm between early market adoption of the product to late
market adoption and their products fail to reach mass diffusion.

64 Ibid. pp. 169

Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market
Figure 2.2
Courtesy of Sage Research 65
Innovations dont just slide effortlessly from one group to the next and all kinds
of high tech products fail because the companies that make them cant find a way to
transform an idea that makes perfect sense to an Early Adopter into one that makes
perfect sense for a member of the Early Majority. This period of the adoption process is
critical to new product adoption. The part of the diffusion process between 10%

adoption to 20% adoption is at the heart of the new product success. Before this range,
there is no guarantee that a critical mass of adoption will be reached; beyond this range,
it is often impossible to stop the diffusion even if one wished to do so. 66
Product adoption that is partially driven by intrinsic product features influences
the consumers decision-making process. Rogers discovered that there is a 49% to 87%
variance in the rate of adoption, which can be explained by the following five attributes:
relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.67
2.3.1 Relative Advantage
Relative Advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better
than the idea it supersedes.
2.3.2 Compatibility
Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being
consistent with existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.
Compatibility helps the individual give meaning to the new idea so it can regard the
product as familiar and reduce cognitive dissonance.

65 Sage Research, Technology Adoption Research [website] (Sage Research, [cited February 18 2003]);
available from
66 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 259
67 Ibid. pp. 206

2.3.3 Complexity
Complexity is the degree to which a consumer perceives an innovation as
difficult to understand and use. Rogers suggests that an increased perception of product
complexity relates negatively toward its rate of adoption. Products that do not require
consumers to change their behaviors and patterned ways of conducting a task are faster
to be adopted than products that have a high learning curve.
2.3.4 Trialability
Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a
limited basis. Products which allow a consumer to try them out before purchasing
reduce the consumers sense of uncertainty and risk about the product and accelerate the
adoption process.
2.3.5 Observability
Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to
others. Products that consumers can see being used increase the amount of exposure a
consumer has to a product and speeds up the rate of adoption. For example, viewing
people walk down the street using Sonys Walkman product helped to reduce consumer
uncertainty and encouraged the consumer to purchase and try the product. These five
attributes (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trailabilty, and observability)
are guidelines for the types of features that influence product adoption rates. By

modifying these attributes and including additional significant attributes, it is possible to
create a model that can be applied to wearable computers.
2.3.6 Consumer Valued Attributes
The five valued attributes described above might not be the most important
perceived characteristics for a particular set of respondents. For example, in new
clothing fashions, the social prestige that the product conveys for the consumer is one of
the most visible benefits that the consumer receives; and yet social prestige is not
mentioned in Rogers model.68 It is important to ask consumers about what benefits
they perceive they will receive from the product, and to incorporate those benefits into
market messages.
Often features that provide the most benefit (like social prestige) are discovered
through consumer surveys, focus groups, and daily use. For instance, Sage Research
conducted a survey of enterprise IT decision-makers on IP telephony and found: -
beyond cost-savings - one of the most compelling benefits of this technology category
was the graphical user interface (GUI). Collecting consumer valued attributes,
therefore, is an essential tool to discover the messaging points that will have the most
impact with consumers.

68 Ibid. pp. 214 (Rogers)

The value of social prestige plays a larger role in product promotion and
adoption. This concept is outlined in Malcolms Tipping Point, which focuses on a
point of sudden change that suddenly tips the market toward mass adoption. The three
other rules the law of the few (in a given process or system some people matter more
than others), the Stickiness Factor (which says there are specific ways of making a
contagious message memorable), and the Power of Context (human beings are a lot
more sensitive to their environment than they may seem).69 Social prestige played a key
role in cell phone adoption. During the early days of cellular use within the U.S., cell
phone prices and services were so costly that it seems as though social prestige was one
of the most important consumer benefits. Early product placement, advertising and
marketing efforts played off that perception by installing cell phone in high-end cars.70
There are various flaws in Rogers Diffusion Model that should be addressed
when applying this model to the adoption of wearable computers. First, Rogers model
is applied to the adoption of any innovation regardless of the product or technology.
Second, his model does not account for the time that an adoption process may take.

69 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Boston: Little,
Brown and Company, 2002).
70 J r. J ames B. Murray, Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America
(Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2001).

Third, the total number of innovators and early adopters that ultimately adopt the
technology cannot be predicted and can only be determined after the innovation has
been adopted, or when the adoption cycle is complete. His model therefore, gives us no
clear-cut way to define who the early adopters are for a particular technology like
wearable computers - while the adoption of the technology is still in progress. The
theory also does not allow us to predict the length of time the adoption process will take,
and does not account for various other market factors that will influence rates of
There are varieties of personal psychological factors that affect a consumers
purchasing decision. Marketers need to understand the background that the consumer
brings to the purchasing decision and the decision-making processes that are used. The
consumers background encompasses social, cultural, personal, and psychological
The first factor that influences consumer decision-making is the consumers
relationship with and opinions of their peer group, family, social role and status.72

71 Hopkins, "Is There Such a Thing as
Early Adopters Fatigue?." pp. 202.
72 Colin Gilligan and David Pearson Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning,
Implementation and Control (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, Ltd., 1992). pp. 105

Especially with technology purchases, recommendations from trusted friends are one of
the largest influences in consumer purchases.73 The second factor is the influence of
culture and how it affects a consumers purchasing decision. The third major factor
influencing consumer decision-making is the consumers personal characteristics
including: age and life-stage, occupation, economic circumstance, lifestyle and
personality. Marketers often use these characteristics to segment markets for directed
advertising. The final factor influencing consumer decision-making (and the factor that
directly speaks to consumers attitudes and feelings toward particular products) is
psychological factors. These include the issues that motivate a consumers interest, as
the perception that the consumer has about the product, and the consumers past
knowledge and pre-established beliefs about the product.
2.5.1 Motivation
Unraveling and analyzing consumer motivation involves understanding the
consumers biogenic needs, which are physiological (hunger, thirst and discomfort) and
psychogenic needs (need for esteem, recognition or belonging). When these needs
become sufficiently intense, they create a motivation to reduce the tension until the need
is less pronounced. The research about this phenomenon has engaged scholars for the
past 100 years and is the foundation upon which theories of human motivation have

73 See the Communication Channel section, pp. 72.

been built. The most familiar human motivation theories are from the works of
Marshall, Freud, Veblen, Herzberg and Maslow.74
Whereas the Marshallian model is based on the idea that a persons behavior is
inherently rational and motivated by economic factors, most of the developed models
are based on psychological premises. Freuds work suggests that psychological factors
that influence behavior are unconscious. Ernest Dichter took Freuds theories and
developed a series of techniques called motivational research, which attempted to
uncover consumers deepest motivations. Veblen developed a social-psychological
interpretations of behavior which highlighted that some of consumers motivations are
driven by need for prestige or social standing and his theory forced research about
consumer motivations to consider the affect of social relationships on consumer decision
Herzberg developed the Two Factor Theory of motivation that distinguishes
between satisifiers (factors that create satisfaction) and dissatisfiers (factors that create
dissatisfaction) and proposed that consumer decision-making was a balance of those two
factors. In some ways the most well known, Maslow developed a theory of motivation,
which is explained as a hierarchy of needs. The needs he outlined (in order from most
important and lowest level of need to least important and highest level of need) are:

74 Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning, Implementation and Control. pp.105

Psychological needs (hunger and thirst)
Safety needs (protection and security)
Social needs (a sense of love and belonging)
Esteem needs (self-esteem, recognition by others, status)
Self-actualization needs (self-development and realization).
Creating a Need for the Product
Whether based on economic, psychological, or social psychological
interpretation, consumer motivation toward purchasing products is driven by a sense of
need that is filled by the products purported services and uses. However, often products
are developed based on technological advancements and not directly, as a solution to a
consumer needs. Wearable computers are that type of product. When the products
development is based on technological advancement, the corporate marketing
department is responsible for creating the need in the consumers consciousness that
leads to a purchasing decision. This type of needs marketing involves promoting a
product or service that nobody asked for (and often could not even conceive of). This
has been successfully executed in relation to marketing such products as Sonys
Walkman, Betamax, 3- inch disk, and Palms PDA products.75

75 However, firms must be careful in creating and marketing technology for a technology sake as was
displayed during the dot com bust over the last few years.

Palm strategically created a consumer need for the product by taking technology
advancements and refocusing the development to focus on consumer interest basing it
on four values:
Low Price $299
Small Size- small enough to fit into comfortably into a mans shirt pocket
Simplicity easy to user for average consumer
Synchronization with the PC accessory to the PC
By working to make the product compatible with desktops and focusing on
making it simple to operate, they alleviated some of the concerns about the challenges of
learning a new computing product (Rogers compatibility). Palm then worked to
increase the observability of the product through a guerilla marketing strategy that relied
heavily on partnerships with industry analysts, prominent trade shows, and mass media
spots. They were able to demo the product on Good Morning America and at the U.S.
Robotics Booth (their early partner) at the PC Expo in New York City.76 Their most
successful strategy however (and one that was mimicked by Xybernaut in its early
attempts to introduce its MA V product) was to allow executives that were attending the
Gartner Groups symposium in October of 1996 to use Palm Pilots to track their
conference schedules. Executives gave the Palm staff a credit card number to demo the

76 Andrea Butter and David Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth
of the Billion-Dollar Handheld Industry (New York: J ohn Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002). pp. 142, 153

Palm Pilot, and if they decided to keep the product, they were charged half the price. At
the end of the conference, 2,500 Palm Pilots ended up in the hands of executives.77 The
result of Palms focus on modifying technology advances to fill unmet consumer need
for functionality and usability combined with its marketing strategy made it the fastest
technology product adoption in history. As Donna Dubinsky, director of Palm
marketing at the time recollects, One million Palm Pilots had been sold in 18 months.
Palms little invention had been accepted faster than VCRs, cell phones, TVs, or almost
any other consumer electronic product.78
2.5.2 Perception
Three aspects of the perception process affect an individuals perception of the
same object: selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention. Because of
the large number of stimuli bombarding a consumer per day, consumer attention is
limited toward new information and their mental attention is limited. Even when the
message does reach consumers, the consumers preconceived notions often distort the
message. The message is far more likely to be distorted to confirm to a consumers
existing beliefs than to be heard without distortion if they are opposing a consumers

77 The MA V product is Xybernauts commercial product which is more expensive and significantly
heavier than the Poma.
78 Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth of the Billion-Dollar
Handheld Industry. pp. 197

beliefs.79 In the 1960s various efforts were made to integrate a variety of theories,
research findings and concepts into a general framework that highlights the
psychological state of the consumer before, during and after the purchase in an attempt
to discover the key to grabbing and holding consumer attention.80
Processing Information about the Innovation
The consumer purchasing decision process is an attempt by an individual to
reduce uncertainty by seeking and processing new information about the innovation.
The individual needs to understand the concept of the innovation, its use, and be able to
apply personal meaning to the innovation. Rogers identifies questions like What is the
innovation? How does it work? and Why does it work? that need to be
successfully answered within the marketing and launch strategy of an innovation for a
products adoption.81 To that list, one could add questions of quality like Will this
last? Am I getting quality functions for my price? as essential questions that need to
be answered for technology products.
The Communication Channel
The communication channel used to educate consumers about an innovation also
affects the rate of adoption. Innovation diffusion researchers like Brown and Pieters

79 Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning, Implementation and Control. pp. 110
80 The principle researchers during that period were Nicosia, Engel, Kollat and Blackwell, and Sheth.
81 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 165

argue that, due to the high amount of uncertainty about new technology products, mass
media channels are not as effective for complex technology products where a variety of
factors need to be considered during the innovation decision process.82 Interpersonal
communication channels are much more effective for that type of decision process.
Mass media marketing for a new innovation is most effective when the goal is to reach a
large audience quickly, create and spread knowledge about a product, and encourage
consumers to change their weakly-held attitudes and beliefs (all in an attempt to increase
observability). Interpersonal communication is much more effective in persuading
consumers with strong attitudes or when the product complexity requires more time to
educate the consumer about the product features.
Role of Change Agents
The role of change agents in the product education process is essential and in
many of the adopter groups it is the main medium through which the consumer learns
about and makes decisions to adopt a product. Involving change agents during the
promotional effort plays upon the psychological human tendency to reduce cognitive
dissonance by surrounding oneself with concepts and people that are similar. It is easier
to receive new information from a trusted, familiar source than from an unknown,
unverified source of information. Many diffusion scholars believe that the

82 J .D. Pieters, "The Marketing of High Technology Production in the Technological Environment,"

predisposition of individuals influences their behavior toward communication messages
and the effect that such messages are likely to have. Individuals tend to expose
themselves to ideas that are in accordance with their interests, needs, and existing
attitudes. Individuals consciously or unconsciously avoid messages that are in conflict
with their predispositions.83 However, it is possible to develop an individuals interest
in a new concept when it comes from a peer source. Especially with technology
adoption, where the majority of hardware and software purchases are made due to
interpersonal recommendations, marketing strategies that utilize change agents are
essential. Based on Rogers characterization, early adopters rely on information from
change agents more heavily to learn about, access, and decide to purchase new products.
Therefore, utilizing change agents when marketing to early adopters will have results
that are more effective.
The successful launch of new technologies is often based on product adoption
predictions; however, in mature, well-understood consumer markets, only a minority of
product launches are successful (around 1 in 10).84,85 The question remains: can a

Southern African Business Review December (2000).
83 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 164
84 Successful adoption in this case is based on Careys definition of a product taking off attainting
the lowest level of sales and penetration at which one would have confidence that he service would not

marketer predict the successful adoption of a new technology for which there is
currently no consumer demand? Various methodologies have been developed to answer
that question and aid in predicting potential markets for new products.
Forecasting demand for a new technology product relies on a variety of
methodologies. However, most of the methods used create an imperfect result. For
example, AT&T in 1980 released a study predicting the future of cellular services. The
study claimed that by the year 2000 there would be only 900,000 US cell phone users
a number that dramatically underestimated the snowballing effect of falling prices and
the desire of Americans to talk while moving. By mid 2000 there were more than 100
million US cell phone users more than 100 times the number AT&T predicted.86
Even assuming the best intentions from the individual creating the prediction, and
supported by solid scientific market studies, most forecasts result in over-inflated
The difficulty in predicting the adoption of an information technology is largely
based on the complexity of the factors that need to be included in the estimation.

be withdrawn because of subsequent lack of demand. viewed as enough sales of the product to warrant
its continued presence in the market.
85 J ohn Carey, "Forecasting Demand for New Consumer Services: Challenges and Alternatives," in
New Infotainment Technologies in the Home: Demand-Side Perspectives, ed. Nikhilesh Dholakia
Norbert Mundorf Ruby Roy Dholakia (Mahwah, New J ersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996).

Researchers must not only consider consumer desire or demand for the product (which
might be non-existent for a new product consumers have not been exposed to), but they
must also take into account policies that might affect how the product is offered. In
addition, they need to consider the impact that network effects, standards, and
interoperability, as well as the marketing strategy, pricing and product competition
might have on the product offering. 87
2.6.1 Bass Model for Predicting Adoption
One of the methods used to predict product adoption is the Bass Model (or
sometimes called the S Curve), which predicts that, through time, demand for the
product will start slow, and at some point increase rapidly, eventually flattening until the
saturation level for the product sales is reached (See Figure 2.3). To use this model, the
researcher must predict the saturation level, estimate when it will be reached, and fit an
S curve to those estimates (often based off an S curve from a similar product).

86 J ames B. Murray, Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America. pp.
87 These terms are covered in depth in Chapter 4.

Figure 2.3
Bass Forecasting Model also creates an index of market potential for the new
product and rate of adoption. It allows the marketer to predict the total number of
adopters from the mean year of adoption based on the prediction of the number of
adopters from the time of the prediction to the mean year of adoption. All of this is
based on pilot launches of a new product, or from managerial judgments made based on
the diffusion history of analogous products.88

88 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

The Bass Model of Diffusion assumes that two types of communication channels
influence potential adopters of an innovation. The first channel is mass media and
interpersonal world-of-mouth channels. The second channel is individuals adopting an
innovation because of a mass media message occur continuously throughout the
diffusion process, but are concentrated in relatively early in the process. Individuals
adopting because of interpersonal communication about the innovation expand in
numbers during the first one half of the diffusion process, and thereafter decline in
numbers per period, creating the S-shaped diffusion curve. The Bass model also
assumes that the rate of adoption during the first one half of the diffusion process occurs
at the same rate as the decline of the rate of adoption during the second half making the
S-shaped curve symmetrical.89
2.6.2 Criticisms of the Bass Model
Applying this model to technology products presents challenges. This model is
based on a few simple assumptions that might not apply to telecommunication products
& services. The first assumption is that the market potential of a new product remains
constant over time. This model, therefore, cannot be adapted for the network effects that
occur in telecommunication markets (and would be present in the wearable computing

89 Ibid. pp. 81

market). This is shown in the adoption rates of other telecommunication products and
services (see Figure 2.4).

Early Subscriber Growth for Select Telecomm. Services 90
Figure 2.4

The second assumption is that the diffusion of the new product is independent of
other innovations. The telecommunication industry is based on various

90 Gerald Faulhaber, "Broadband Deployment: Is Policy the Way?" (paper presented at the Brookings
Conference, Washington, DC, 2003 2003).

interdependencies between products, networks, and services; and therefore this
assumption is not suited to predicting the adoption of telecommunication products. The
third assumption is that the nature of an innovation does not change over time. With the
fast pace of product improvement in the technology product industry (as seen by release
of versions of software), technology products have a higher likelihood of changing as
more users are exposed to and provide suggestions about the product features. The
fourth assumption is that marketing strategies - such as changing a products price,
advertising it more heavily, and so forth - does not influence the diffusion process.
Within the telecommunication industry competitive pricing and economies of scale
force many companies to price products close to cost and stability of marketing
strategies is not the norm. Finally, the model assumes that supply restrictions do not
limit the rate of diffusion of a new product. The history of technology products is
peppered with references of under-predicting consumer demand and the creation of
supply shortages. Palm Pilots initial launch was challenged by various hardware and
software glitches including battery problem caused by the extra width of a warning
sticker attached to the inside of the battery door. All of these delays resulted in
customers who had placed their orders up to 4 months before having to wait to receive

their new Palm Pilots. When the products finally did reach retail shelves, the demand
quickly outstripped the ability to supply the product.91
This model can have an unrealistic high demand at the saturation point, by the
fact that the product may never come near the saturation level, or it might never get to
the point where the curve starts rising. Furthermore, it is difficult to estimate how long
it will take the product to reach particular points within the S Curve. Even though the
Bass Model is widely popular, the assumptions upon which it is based raises concerns
about using this model to predict technology products.
2.6.3 Delphi Method for Predicting Adoption
An alternative theory used for predicting product adoption is the Delphi method.
This is a technique where groups of experts convene to create a consensus forecast for
the market. This method can often provide insights created from the group interaction
that are valuable to marketers. However, there it is unproven whether an experts
prediction on product adoption is any better than someone elses prediction. In some
cases, the prediction might be biased due to the experts personal interest in the

91 Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth of the Billion-Dollar
Handheld Industry. pp. 144-151.

2.6.4 Other Models
There are various other ways to predict a products market potential. First, a
marketer could derive a forecast for the entire demand for a product based on a similar
established market. This is accomplished by taking the (similar markets) demand and
multiplying it by an estimate of the future market share for the new service.. For
example, predicting the Internets adoption would be based on the demand of a similar
established market (like consumers expenditures on information gathering) and a
percentage of that demand would be used based on the number of consumers in that
market that share the same demographic characteristics as the predicted consumer base
for the Internet. Of course, this is based on an assumption that information gathering is
the Internets paramount value to the consumer.92
Second, predicting the future market for a product can be based on individual
purchasing decisions. This is accomplished by extrapolating the potential individual
purchases into an estimate for the market as a whole by using demographic
information.93 For instance, if the product is predicted to be largely purchased by
college-educated males, then a prediction for the market can be developed by
determining how many college educated males are present within the US market and
would potentially be interested in purchasing the product.

92 Carey, "Forecasting Demand for New Consumer Services: Challenges and Alternatives." pp. 40

Finally, predicting the future market for a product can be accomplished by
asking a sample of consumers if they would be interested in purchasing the product and
extrapolate that number based on demographics for the predicted market as a whole.
This method has drawbacks as well. For instance, in the case of products that are
entirely new to the public, the likelihood that they truly understand the value of the
product and what it can do is based on a limited set of information (often based on
verbal descriptions or photos, but no interaction with the product). Verbal descriptions
of the product (via a phone survey for instance) have tendency to inflate the positive
attributes of the product and limit the consumers awareness of the negative aspects of
the product. Zangwill, author of Lightning Strategies for Innovation: How the World's
Best Firms Create New Products, suggests that forecasting is a waste of resources and
that companies should instead simply launch new products into the market, assess the
consumer responses, adjust the design of the product or withdraw the product based on
the feedback.94 However, this strategy is not fitting to a product that has various
software and hardware components, and a variety of uses that might lead the consumer
to misunderstand the products full range of features and applications.

93 Ibid. pp. 41
94 Ibid. pp. 54

To overcome the various shortcomings of predicting adoption of consumer
technology products using models, this analysis will instead gather consumer data about
their attitudes and behaviors that may affect adoption. Establishing a model of
predicting new technology adoption (like the wearable computer) without an
understanding of the barriers that currently exist within the mind of the early adopter
consumer market (like product compatibility issues) would be a wasted exercise. In
addition, what is currently missing in the market research firms predictions of consumer
adoption of wearable technologies is a discussion of how the pre-conceived attitudes that
consumers have toward wearable computers is truly the largest barrier to entry into the
mass market. Therefore, this thesis will rely heavily on consumer behavior theories, and
the Gartner group model to arrive at an analysis of the barriers to consumer adoption of
wearable computers, with an emphasis on uncovering consumer attitudes and feelings
toward the technology.

Chapter 3: Data Collection Studies
Not only is there a danger of the technology being used to monitor people
to make them into obedient productive cyborgs, but there is also the potential
that people will become too dependent on this technology.95
Are the fears of technology being used to monitor people or the fear of people
being dependent on technology legitimate or widely believed? Would these fears affect
consumers attitude toward new technology like wearable computers? This thesis is
focused on discovering consumer attitudes and behaviors toward wearable computers
that may influence consumer adoption. The three data collection efforts consisted of
two online surveys, one focus group, and one daily use trial of Xybernaut Corporation's
Poma product by a member of the target market. First, two email-driven/web based
surveys were launched and asked early adopter consumers about their feelings and
associations with wearable computers, wearable computer displays, and their integration
with smart clothing.96 Second, a focus group was run with tech-savvy consumers using
the Poma. Finally, a test subject was selected out of the focus group to use the Poma on
a daily basis and he recorded his social interactions and provided comments about
product usability.

95 Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community.."
96 The full set of questions used for the two surveys are located in the Appendixes.

3 Data Presentation
Throughout this data collection effort, inquiry has focused on collecting
consumer feedback about five areas: product features and usability, interested in
always-on, full function mobile computing, concerns about social interactions, interest
in the benefits of smart clothing, and the impact of culture on consumers pre-existing
concepts about wearable computing. While this research will not present a statistically
valid representative sample, it will present a qualitative understanding of the issues
surrounding early adopter consumer interest and concerns about wearable computers.
For this chapter, the demographics for each data collection group will be
presented along with a definition of the methods for each data collection activity. The
data will be presented based on the themes of issues or concerns that were similar
among the respondents answers from the four different data collection efforts. Under
each theme, each data collection groups unique response are highlighted where
applicable and indicated by sections, allowing for identification between the survey
groups concerns about mobility vs. the daily-use experience with the mobility of the
product. All focus group participants are identified via a pseudonym. Comments by
focus group participants are presented in normal quotations. The comments collected
anonymously from survey group respondents are indicated by italics and with bullets to
differentiate one respondent from another.

Consumers sampled in the four data collection efforts provided oral and written
comments about their associations, concerns, and pre-existing attitudes about wearable
computers. Many of their comments challenge the industry-preconceived notions about
consumers interest in always-on mobile computing. The consumer sampled for this
study indicated their disinterest in always on computing, concerns about the impact the
technology would have on their social interactions, and their lack of interested in the
integration of smart fabrics and wearable computers. They suggested various product
enhancements and provided feedback about their interest in various features and
applications. They also demonstrated a range of associations between wearable
computers and pop culture concepts and provided marketing suggestions that should be
taken into account when marketing an improved consumer wearable computing product.
These issues and concerns are presented as individual sections that contain comments
from the each of the applicable data collection groups so that the reader can view how
the level of interaction with the product resulted subtle differences between the data
groups comments.
For the first email survey, the early adopter consumers were selected and asked a
series of questions about their current technology use, what technology products they
own, and what their attitudes were about wearable computers and their features. The
consumer audience for this survey was a group with positive attitudes toward

technology and whose members owned more than one mobile product. Attitudes toward
wearable computing were defined through a series of 24 questions about:
Demographic characteristics
Previous mobile communication device ownership/familiarity
Attitudes toward technology
Interest in wearable technology features97

The twenty-four-question web survey utilized the service to
send an email invitation, sent December 3, 2002 with a link to an online survey. The
first email was posted to the listserve for DC Web Women (DCWW) and for
Georgetown Universitys Communications, Culture, and Technology (CCT) program.98
Participants were then encouraged to send the link to the online survey to men they
knew who were technologically oriented. The survey was also posted three days later
on a listserve for alumni from an anonymous technology company where only men were
encouraged to answer. A small sampling of the researchers personal contacts (most
respondents were colleagues in the technology field or college age students) was also
solicited via email. The resulting pool of respondents was largely employed in the
technology industry. A total of 256 people (97 men and 157 women) responded.

97 To view the complete survey, see Appendix A.
98 DC Web Women is a free listserve of over 4,000 women in the Washington, DC Metro Area that are
involved in marketing or web work. Approximately 199 students use the CCT graduate program
listserve to exchange news, information and support.

Key terms used in the survey were defined for participants. The termwearable
computer was not initially defined in order to get respondents to provide unbiased first
reactions to the term. The definitions provided for these terms are as follows:
Mobile Communication Devices
Mobile Communications Devices were defined non-explicitly as devices that
enable the user to manage communications while away from the home or office.
Wearable Computers
Respondents were asked to provide their own definition of what they thought the
term wearable computer meant, and were directed to select the adjectives that they
associated with a provided definition of what a wearable computer was, as well as select
the specific tasks and features they thought were performed by wearable computers.99
A link to an image of the Poma was also embedded in the survey. Due to technical
problems, not all respondents were able to see an image of a wearable computer.
Attempting to fix the problem, a link to a picture of the Poma was added to the
introductory email asking the respondent to answer the survey. Some respondents were

99 The definition and summary used was: A wearable computer is a fully functional, self-powered,
self-contained computer that is worn on the body. It can provide access to information, and interaction
with that information, anywhere and at any time. With heads-up displays, unobtrusive input devices,
personal wireless local area networks, and a host of other context sensing and communication tools, the
wearable computer can act as an intelligent assistant, whether it be through a Remembrance Agent,
augmented reality, or intellectual collectives.

able to use the link to view the image before taking the survey. There is no way to
determine, however, whether or not a particular respondent actually viewed the image.
3.1.1 Determining Early Adopters
Respondents were asked a multiple-choice question about their feelings toward
technology and their current or previous use and ownership of a variety of mobile or
wearable products. The question, What three adjectives would you use to describe
your current relationship with technology? allowed them to answer affirmatively to the
following options:
The respondents that answered affirmatively in terms of their relationship with
technology were categorized as early adopters (hereafter referred to as PositiveTech)
and their responses were singled out from the total respondents. A significant number of

respondents (153 out of 256) were categorized as the early adopter group (referenced as
PositiveTech) and their responses were separated from the larger group for analysis.
3.1.2 Demographics
The demographics for the survey group are as follows. More women than men
responded (157 vs. 97) with a total of 356 respondents.
Age & Gender
The largest age group (68 out of 256 respondents) were ages 31-40 with the
second largest group (47 out of 256) composed of three different age groups 25-30, 41-
50 and 51-60 year olds. The age groups for PositiveTech followed the pattern for the
entire survey group with the largest group in the 31-40-age range, etc.
Most of the respondents (for both the entire respondent group as well as
PositiveTech) lived in the suburbs (127 out of 256) or in an urban area (with 89 out of
256). Interestingly, even though the survey was only sent to DC metro area-related
listserves (and 226 out of 256 respondents to the survey noted they were from the US),
there were 16 respondents from Mexico, five from Canada, three from Europe, and one

respondent each from Asia, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), and the West
Income and Professional Title
The largest number of respondents selected the income range of $50,000 to
$74,999 (62 out of 256) with the second largest number of respondents (41 out of 256)
selecting the range of over $100,000 a year. The income for PositiveTech followed the
pattern of the larger group.
Respondents were also asked to select a professional title closest to their own.
The largest number of respondents (within PositiveTech) selected Trained Professional
(76 out of 153), Self-employed/Partner (50 out of 153) was the second largest
response, and Consultant (23 out of 153) was the third most popular response.
In summary, survey respondents were mostly women ages 31-40 who work in
the DC metro area and make $50,000 to $74,999 a year as a trained professional or self-
Familiarity with and Ownership of Mobile Technologies
Respondents were then asked which mobile technologies they previously or
currently owned (See Figure 3.1). Out of the entire survey group (PositiveTech and
non-PositiveTech), most respondents (85.5%) noted that they owned or have used a

100 The DC metro area comprises the Maryland and Virginia suburbs within commuting distance of

pager, 98.8% a cell phone, 86.7% a walkman, 90.6% a pager, 87.1% a phone with
Internet access, 92.6% a laptop, 87.1% a camcorder, 84% a digital watch and 84.4% a
smart phone.
For the PositiveTech group, 60% owned or had used a pager vs. 58% of the non-
PositiveTech group. In relation to cell phones, the percentages were PositiveTech
(95%) vs. non-PositiveTech (94%) respectively. For walkmans, PositiveTech (91%) vs.
non-PositiveTech (86%); for PDAs, PositiveTech (75%) vs. non-PositiveTech (67%);
for phones with Internet access, PositiveTech (47%) vs. non-PositiveTech (47%); for
laptops, PositiveTech (89%) vs. non-PositiveTech (97%); for camcorders, PositiveTech
(66%) vs. non-PositiveTech (76%); and for smart phone the percentages were
PositiveTech (25%) and non-PositiveTech (22%) respectively.

Figure 3.1
Internet Usage
Most respondents used the Internet daily. In the PositiveTech group, 68
respondents (44%) accessed the Internet one to three hours a day. Sixty (39%) accessed
the Internet for over eight hours a day, and 54 (35%) accessed the Internet three to five
hours a day. Almost three quarters (72%) of PositiveTech accessed the Internet over
three hours a day with 28% of them accessing the Internet for five to eight hours a day.
For the rest of the survey group (non-PositiveTech, 47% accessed the Internet over three
hours a day and only 18% accessed the Internet for five to eight hours a day.
Almost all of the respondents were interested in mobile Internet. Most (247 out
of 256 of the respondents) were interested in accessing the Internet while mobile (152
Survey #1: Mobile Device Ownership




Types of Mobile Devices







Positive Tech
Everyone Else

out of 153) and everyone in the PositiveTech group wanted to be able to access the
Internet while mobile. Almost all (152 out of the 153) The PositiveTech chatted using
the Internet for the same percentages and period of time(s) as the entire survey group
with 54% chatting online for less than an hour. In sum, this group responded strongly to
the benefit of full page mobile Internet provided by wearable computing devices.
Instant Video
Sixty percent of the all the respondents wanted to share an experience instantly
with their family and friends via video or photo, with 63% of PositiveTech interested in
that feature and 55% of non- PositiveTech interested in that feature.
Online Gaming Use
The HMD used in some wearable computers offers full color displays which
would allow consumers to engage in mobile computer gaming, and online gaming, if the
device were Internet enabled. When survey participants were asked about their online
gaming use, online gaming was only played by 35% of PositiveTech and only 15% of
non- PositiveTech.101 Of the respondents who indicated they did play online games,
19% of all respondents spent once a week playing online games. A quarter of weekly

101 This might be due to the larger number of women who answered the survey and perhaps with more
men answering the survey, (who represent a larger number of computer game players) there would be
more interest in mobile game playing.

gamers (25%) were PositiveTech vs. 9% of non- PositiveTech. This shows that while
online gaming is a growing market, it would not be a killer app for wearable computers.
3.1.3 Daily Technology Use
Respondents were asked to select activities for which they used technology on a
daily basis. Their options were Scheduling, Email/Chatting, Creating Documents
and/or Digital Memories, Sharing Audio or Video Files, Playing Audio or Video
Files, and Managing Information or Data. They were then asked if this task was a
function they could potentially engage in while mobile. (See Figure 3.2 and Figure 3.3)
Survey #1: Daily Technology Use


Functi on


PositiveTech N-PositiveTech

Figure 3.2

Survey #1: Interest in Daily Technology Use While


Mobi l e


P-While Mobile N-While Mobile

Figure 3.3

Daily use of technology for scheduling was selected by 63.4% of PositiveTech
(vs. 36.5% of non-PositiveTech). Almost three quarters, (71.1%) of the entire survey
group responded that they thought this would be more efficient if they could use this
feature while mobile (with 71.1% of PositiveTech indicating their interest in scheduling
while mobile, vs. 79.2% of non-PositiveTech).

Out of all the respondents, 92.9% used technology daily to connect with family
and friends, with slightly more PositiveTech (94.1% ) than non PositiveTech (91.1%)
using technology daily for this function. More than half (64.6%) of PositiveTech were
more interested in this feature if they could use it while mobile, vs. 59.5% non-
Using technology daily for chatting was selected by 42.3% of all respondents
(with 41.8% PositiveTech using technology daily for this purpose vs. 43.3% of non-
PositiveTech). Almost half of all the survey respondents (47.2%) thought this would be
more effective while mobile (47.9% PositiveTech and 46.2% non-PositiveTech). A
large number of respondents (89.2%) used email for business communication on a daily
basis (62.9 % PositiveTech vs. 37%), and 75.1% of PositiveTech thought this would be
more efficient while mobile vs. 68.4% of non-PositiveTech.
Documents/Digital Memories
Not surprisingly, almost all of the respondents (92%) used technology daily to
create documents (93.4% PositiveTech vs. 90% of non-PositiveTech), and 50.3% of
PositiveTech thought this would be more efficient while mobile vs. 58.7% of non-
PositiveTech group. More than half (55.6 %) used technology daily for creating digital
memories (59.4% for PositiveTech and 49.4% for non-PositiveTech) and this
discrepancy might be due to the large number of respondents who work in the web

design or graphic design field. Slightly more than half of PositiveTech (54.7%) thought
this would be more efficient while mobile vs. 47.3% of non-PositiveTech.
Audio/Video Files
Only one half of survey respondents (50.6%) used technology daily to share
audio, video, or data files, (53.5% PositiveTech vs. 45.6% non-PositiveTech). Almost
half of PositiveTech (43%) thought this would be more effective if it was mobile vs.
89% non-PositiveTech. More than half of the survey respondents (52%) used
technology daily to play audio or video files, and 55.6% of PositiveTech were interested
in this feature while mobile vs. 51.6% of non-PositiveTech.
Managing Information/Data
More than three quarters of all respondents (88%) used technology daily to
manage information or data (88% PositiveTech vs. 86.5% of non-PositiveTech). Of the
PositiveTech group, 71.6% were interested in this feature while mobile, vs. 64.2% of
non-PositiveTech group.
In summary, the entire group used technology primarily for communication,
creating documents, and managing information and data. The PositiveTech group could
envision using a wearable computer to assist them in conducting all of those functions
while mobile; while the non-PositiveTech group were not quite as able to envision those
features, except when it came to entertainment functions. The non-PositiveTech group

owned more video cameras than the PositiveTech group, and was significantly more
interested in sharing audio and video files while mobile.
A second survey was launched on February 14, 2003 to the same group of
consumers (minus the personal contacts) to ask them questions about wearable
computers that were omitted from the first survey. The second survey also asked
questions about consumer interest in smart fabrics and smart fabrics role as a potential
package for wearable computers.
The sixteen-question web survey utilized the service to send an
email message to the entire DCWW listserve and Georgetown Universitys and the
Communications, Culture and Technology programs listserve, but not to the list of
personal contacts. DCWW survey participants were then encouraged to send the link to
the online survey to men they knew who were technologically oriented. The result was
that 93 people (15 men and 78 women) responded.
A variety of terms was defined for the survey participants. The survey was
structured so that participants would provide their own definition of smart fabrics or e-
textiles before reading the definition provided or seeing the image of a smart fabric

product. Definitions and images of wearable computers, smart fabrics, and three types
of mobile device displays were provided.102
Wearable Computers
Wearable computers were defined as:
A fully functional, self-powered, self-contained computer that is worn on
the body. It provides access to information and interaction with information
anywhere and at anytime.103 Physically, the apparatus consists of a battery-
powered, wearable Internet-connected computer system with a miniature
eyeglass-mounted screen and the appropriate optics to form a virtual image
equivalent to an ordinary desktop multimedia computer before the users field of
vision. Because the device is tetherless, it travels with the user, presenting a
computer screen that either appears superimposed on top of the real world, or
represents the real world as a video image.104
Wearable computers allow you all the functionality of your home
computer, yet you can access all your familiar applications and files while
mobile. In addition, since wearable computers are always-on, they can assist you
in remembering a variety of important items throughout your day though a
remembrance application.105
Smart Fabrics
Smart Fabrics were defined as:

102 To view the complete survey, see Appendix B.
103 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual
Environments." pp. 6

105 Steven Mann, "Humanistic Intelligence: `Wearcomp' as a
New Framework and Application for Intelligent Signal Processing" (paper presented at the IEEE,
November 1998).

E-textiles, smart fabrics involve microelectronic components that are
directly connected to electrically conducting fabric and sewn into clothing, thus
directly integrating the electronics in the textiles to ensure comfortable, highly
wearable smart clothing, thus allowing the full integration of electronic
applications in clothes. Electronic clothing weaves all sorts of intelligence into
textiles, including the ability to detect dangerous chemicals, sanitize themselves,
and serve as communication networks. Applications run the gamut, from health
and sporting goods to sophisticated combat uniforms.106
A visual example of smart clothing was also provided for survey respondents
Mobile Displays
Varieties of mobile displays were also presented to encourage feedback from the
survey respondents.107 The displays used were:
Head Mounted Display (HMD) defined as: By projecting the equivalent of a
full-size screen two feet in front of the user, the SV-3 heralds a new era of data
presentation. The SV-3 is ultra-lightweight, ergonomically designed, can attach to
eyeglasses. An image was used for additional illustration.108
Microdisplays - defined as: Microvision's technology would allow users to flip up
a small lens at the base of a phone or wear a lightweight headset to have the
experience of looking at an image with the size and quality of a laptop or desktop
monitor. Unlike alternative solutions that project images from a miniaturized
screen, Microvision's display uses a single tiny mirror to scan a low-power beam of
colored light across the eye, creating the effect of viewing a full-size screen. An
image was also used.109
Traditional handheld display this option was simply defined by an image.

106 "Infineon Unveils Technologies for for "Smart" Clothing," (Global Sources, 2002).
107 See Appendix B.
108 MicroOptical, Products (MicroOptical, 2003 [cited February 18 2003]); available from
109 Microvision, Microdisplay Product Sheet (Microvision, 2003 [cited 2003]); available from


3.2.1 Determining Early Adopters
Respondents for the second survey were categorized as early mobile adopters
based on their membership to the DCWW listserve and the technology-oriented men
that they forwarded the email invitation to, and their current or previous ownership of
mobile devices. Whereas the first survey was sent to a wider variety of individuals, the
respondents from the first survey were then divided into PositiveTech and non-
PositiveTech and the PositiveTech respondents were more valuable to this data
collection effort. The second survey eliminated the group of personal contacts (many of
whom were non-PositiveTech respondents) and limited the audience of the second
survey. An assumption was made that the individuals answering the second survey (by
way of their membership in the various technology communities and based on findings
from the first survey) were already positive toward technology and the question that
allowed them to comment on their attitudes toward technology was un-necessary.110
Responses to the question about their current mobile devices supported the
assumption that they were open to adopting new technology based on their previous
purchases. Thirty respondents out of 93 (32.3%) currently or previously owned (C/PO)

110 In the first survey, it was determined that the relationship between PositiveTech and respondents
who owned a laptop is significant based on Pearsons Correlations at the .05 (2-tailed) level with a
coefficient of .141. For those who owned a smart phone, the coefficient is -.139 based on Pearsons
Correlations at the .05 (2-tailed) level.

a pager, 85 out of 93 (91.4%) C/PO a Walkman; 85 out of 93 (91.4%) C/PO a cell
phone; 36 out of 93 (38.7%) C/PO a cell phone with web access; 55 out of 93 (59.1%)
C/PO a PDA; 10 out of 93 (10.8%) C/PO a smart phone; 74 out of 93 (79.6%) C/PO a
3.2.2 Second Survey Demographics
Here are the demographics of the survey group.
Age & Gender:
Fifteen respondents (16.1%) were in the 18 - 24-age range, 24 respondents
(25.8%) in the 25 - 30 age range, 36 respondents (38.7%) in the 31 - 40 age range, 15
respondents (16.1%) in the 41 - 50-age range, and 8 respondents (1.1%) in the 61 - 70
age range. Fifteen of the respondents (16.1%) were male and 78 of the respondents
were female (83.9%) totaling 93 respondents.
Forty-six respondents (49.5%) lived in an urban area, 42 respondents (45.2%) in
a suburban area and 5 respondents (5.4%) in a rural area. Almost all respondents (92 out
of 93) were from the United States with one respondent from Mexico.

Income and Professional Title
Respondents were then asked to select a range that represents their annual
income. The largest number of respondents chose the $40,000-$49,999 range (24.7%)
with the second largest number selecting the $50,000-$74,999 range (19.4%).
Respondents were asked to provide their professional title and those responses
were then organized under general categories. Slightly fewer than half (41.9%) were
technology professionals, 16.1% were students, 16.1% were in the communications
field, 10.8% were designers, 5.4% were consultants, 4.3% were CEOs, three
respondents were teachers 3.2%, one respondent had an administrative job and seven
respondents were categorized as other.
In summary, participants in this second email survey were prominently women
in the 25-40 age range who worked in the technology, communications or design
profession, lived in the DC metro area and made between $40,000 and $75,000 a year.
Almost three quarters of the participants C/PO a laptop, over 90% of them C/PO a
walkman and a cell phone and over half of them C/PO a PDA.
The Poma focus group was held on February 10, 2003, a weekday night at 7:00
PM in a classroom on the Georgetown University campus. Participants were recruited
through their indicated interested from participating in the first wearable computing
survey; as well as through an email invitation to join the focus group posted on the

Communications, Culture and Technology programs listserve; and on the DCWW
listserve. Some participants were male husbands or friends of women from the DCWW
listserve. All participants indicated via email that they owned at least two of the
following products: PDA, smart phone, cell phone, laptop, and/or pager. Participants
were not paid, but dinner was provided. To assist with setup, three assistants were
recruited and were in the room manning the video camera, setting up food, and moving
the Poma from one participant to another. The assistants were members of the early
adopter market and contributed to the discussion.
3.3.1 Focus Group Demographics
All participants were asked to complete a simple registration survey that asked a
few demographic questions and also allowed them to indicate their approval for use of
their comments in this study.111 Ten out of the twelve had jobs in the technology
industry. One was a student in the Georgetown University Communication, Culture,
and Technology program. Three participants held senior level positions (CEO, COO
and Director). Their ages ranged from 26 to 50 with the majority of the participants in
their mid 30s. Seven out of the twelve lived in the District of Columbia, with the
remaining participants living in the greater DC metro area.

111 See Appendix C for registration survey questions.

Mobile Device Ownership
Focus group participants were asked on the registration survey to indicate their
ownership of mobile devices. Ten out of the twelve participants had both a cell phone
and a laptop, nine had a PDA; five owned cell phones with web access; and four owned
smart phones (See Figure 3.5).
Focus Group: Mobile Device Ownership
10 10
Types of Devices


Cell Phone Laptop PDA Cellphone with Web Smart Phones

Figure 3.4
3.3.2 Written Responses
Focus group participants were asked to respond to a series of questions by
writing down their answers instead of sharing the responses orally with the group. After
the first three introductory questions, they were encouraged to fill out their written
answers.112 In addition, they were given images of three different types of displays on

112 See Appendix D for the written response questions.

the market for wearable devices (the HMD, a traditional Palm display, and
Microvisions Microdisplay) and were asked to provide comments. Focus group
participants were then asked a series of questions about their interaction with the
product, and their thoughts and interests in its applications and features.113
By combining their written responses and verbal comments, it is clear that the
Poma has user interface issues and universally the participants were disappointed in its
performance. After discussing the drawbacks of the product, they were encouraged to
provide comments about how they would use a wearable computer. They were
prompted to provide feedback on wearable computing applications still in development
and whether they would use those features. Finally, they were encouraged to brainstorm
about what type of marketing campaign they believe would encourage their peers to try
the Poma product or wearable computers in general.
To understand fully the limitations and positive aspects of the Poma product, a
test subject was selected to use the Poma daily over a time span of two days. The Poma
was developed as a wearable computer that was created to be always-on and for use
while mobile. This thesis tested that functionality through a daily use trial. A test of

113 See Appendix E for focus group questions.

that functionality determined that the product did not meet those expectations and
challenged whether consumers would be able to adapt to always-on computing.
3.4.1 Daily Use Demographics
The test subject chosen was J oe, a 24-year-old male who lived in the DC metro
area. J oe is a customer service representative at a mutual fund company and is an early
adopter. He owned a digital camera, laptop, PDA, smart phone, and MP3 player. Based
on conversations with Xybernaut, personal use, and focus group use of the product it
was clear that the HMD for the Poma was designed for Asian foreheads. In Asian
anatomy, the foreheads that are flatter than Caucasian foreheads. The fact that the Poma
was designed for Asians is not surprising, considering the Poma was developed by
Hitachi for the J apanese market. J oe, as a Korean, was able to easily wear the HMD and
see the screen where as all the non-Asian focus group participants had difficulty wearing
the HMD and seeing the screen. J oe participated in the daily study from February 13
through February 15, 2003, wearing the Poma both at work and in social situations to
test the true mobility of the product. At the end of the two days, J oe had quite a few
suggestions for product improvements and ultimately decided that the product in its
current version was not ready for consumer use.

All four data collection efforts had similar themes based on consumers
interactions with the product, and consumer interest in the various features, as well as
similar attitudes about the concept of wearable computing. By combining survey
responses (which were based on no interaction with the product and did not allow for
ability to clarify the questions), focus group responses (where respondents were allowed
to try the product but were influenced by the responses of others) and individual
intensive use of the product; a more expansive summary of product use and design
issues was developed. By analyzing the range of responses, a true sense of consumer
interest in wearable computers was compiled which highlights the challenges and
opportunities that face companies who want to introduce wearable computers into the
early adopter consumer market. Consumers in this study expressed concern and
provided comments that illuminated their expectations and pop culture associations,
concern about social interactions and the impact the device would have on user
attention, concern about being always connected to technology, and feedback about the
challenges of the user interface. In addition, consumers in this study were asked to
comment on their interest in always-on computing (vs. on my command), their interest
in wearable computers integrated with clothing, their preference and interest in various
applications, and finally their interest in purchasing a wearable computing product.

All three groups approached their first exposure to wearable computers with pre-
established feelings and attitudes about the technology based on their personal
background, cultural history, and previous exposure to a similar technology or press
about wearable computers. In every situation, their expectations of what the technology
could do and how they would use the technology did not match their first experiences
with the product.
3.6.1 Focus Group
The focus group participants had high expectations for the product and were
disappointed when they finally were able to see the products look and functionality.
Responses indicated that there were limitations inherent in current wearable products on
the market and in development. It was clear these products were plagued by limited
battery life and user interfaces that were too complicated for consumers to use. Both of
these limitations hindered focus group participants interest. The focus group comments
highlighted these issues. Throughout the entire focus group, participants were
encouraged to provide comments about the Poma product as well as about features and
applications currently provided by wearable computers in general.114 One clear

114 Wearable computer features and applications that are currently in development in academic labs
were described to participants to elicit feedback about the wider range of wearable computer

indication of the products limitation was seen in the written responses to a series of
questions, which asked them to indicate five positive things about the product and five
things they would improve. Their responses to the positive aspects of the product in
order of importance, included:
Small size
The cool factor
Hands free
The visibility of the display
The concept of integrated communication
The ability to switch the screen to the other eye
Standard ports
And the ability to access the Internet wirelessly.

The groups responses to the product improvements that they deemed necessary
Screen visibility

Battery life
Remove wires
Lighter Head Mounted Display
Operating system (OS)

The most popular product improvements suggested included:
Improving the screen visibility (12 out of 12 participants listed this issue)
Improving the input mechanism (11 out of 12 respondents listed this issue)
Removing the wires from the CPU to mouse and the CPU to the HMD (8 out of 12)
Fixing the fit of the HMD with 4 out of 12, and
Limited battery life was mentioned by 3 out of 12 as an issue.

By viewing responses to the question, How is your current interest in the
product different from what you expected when you first heard about the focus group?
It is clear that even without viewing advertising about the product, consumers
approached wearable computing with a set of pre-established expectations. Here was
Sams response: Wow! I didnt realize they had these on the market yetLooking at

this, Im not sure its something I would use because it has too many wires attached.
Mary found the Poma downright awkward: It would be a little more seamless, a little
less awkward, that I would be able to focus on things around me while Im wearing it.
Adjusting to having something there and interacting with the real world was awkward.
Even more damaging, Mike commented, I thought it would be cool and life changing,
and it ended up being mediocre and not that interesting.
One respondent even questioned the whole premise of wearable computing
when he remarked: I just dont see interacting with a wearable computer the same way
as I see interacting with a desktop. And I dont see it needing to do the same things that
I do with my desktop. This theme was echoed throughout the rest of the focus group as
well as an underlying consumer concern illustrated in the surveys and daily use test.
Consumers simply could not see themselves needing or wanting 24/7 computing
interaction with something that looked and acted like their desktop computer.
3.6.2 Daily Use
J oe had some clear irritations with the Pomas plug n play functionality in
relation to connecting to a wireless network. His concerns were well founded. It should
be noted that the product was not shipped with a wireless card installed, and instead had
software and drivers for accessing the Internet via a dial-up modem.115 Even though it

115 This would require the user to plug him/herself into a wall-mounted phone jack.

was positioned as a mobile product, the lack of pre-installed WiFi software and drivers
was puzzling. It is hard to imagine that a user would hook themselves into a phone line
to access the Internet using the Poma.
Here are J oes comments:
The thing that was more annoying about the product is [sic] that even
without proper permission. I should have been able to get onto the network for
internet connection by having the PC detect the wireless network and make the
connection somewhat in the same way that handhelds can outside corporate
office buildings or neighbors can to their neighbors wireless networks.
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
3.6.3 Survey
Respondents expectations for the product were determined by asking
participants in the first survey to comment on what their first thought was when they
saw the term wearable computing without displaying any information about this type
of mobile product. Their responses illuminated how the users cultural background
biases user expectations.
This open-ended question evoked a range of responses. Those comments have
been organized by theme below to highlight how their cultural background and pre-
existing notions about wearable computers influenced their expectations for the
products functionality and the impact the product would have upon their life if adopted.
The common themes were focused on direct associations with other concepts; products
and concerns about the impact the product would have on their lives. The associations

mentioned were with: smart clothing, PDA technology, wireless Internet, negative
geek stereotypes, science fiction and Hollywood-created icons. The concerns focused
on the impact on social interactions, personal health risks, and a losing of individual
independence from technology.
Connection with Smart Clothing Associations
Thirty-six respondents created associations between wearable computers to
various pieces of clothing including jewelry, T-shirts, jackets, vests, watches, hats,
shoes, and eyeglasses. The most popular clothing association was watches with 10
respondents and jackets/vests with seven respondents. Some of the other clothing
associations were very futuristic such as: clothing that thinks and wires and gadgets
attached to the head and another, a shirt I heard about once, which was meant to
provide an internet connection and also (I think) to interface with remote control-type
devices in your home (to replace your remotes...). And one respondent immediately
thought of a potential application for wearable computers integrated into clothing:
Exchanging business cards by shaking hands or a really dumb hat that tells me
temperature and humidity.

Hollywood Associations
Many respondents made clear popular culture references. Association with Dick
Tracys watch was the most popular and mentioned by five out of 256 respondents.116
Star Trek was the second most popular association with three out of 256 respondents
- Glasses like Data in Star Trek
- What would really be cool is something unobtrusive I could tap into like those
intercom things on Star Trek.
Four respondents mentioned a recent IBM commercial run during the 2003
Superbowl to entice consumers to begin thinking about wearable computing. Responses
- The stockbroker in the middle of a plaza shouting buy and sell into his
- The geek sitting on the fountain scaring the pigeons.
- I think of the ad on TV where this young guy on Venice is doing stock trades
by looking into his own glasses.
Three respondents associated wearable computers with technology implanted in
your body. Two respondents commented that wearable computers seemed like
something out of science fiction, and many respondents mentioned The Matrix, James

116 This is interesting considering that early research focus on consumer associations with cellular
telephones found that Dick Tracys watch was a common consumer association. (See J ames Murrays
Wireless Nation)

Bond, RoboCop and J udith Butlers Cyborg. One respondent even took the wearable
computers functionality a bit further by describing it as, a computer which is in one
glass of your sunglasses and the mind controls the computer, like it had no keyboard or
mouse but the mind automatically sends signals to it.117
Current Mobile Devices Associations
Thirty-one survey respondents linked wearable computers to advanced PDA
type devices and five respondents correctly defined mobile devices as hardware that is
worn on the body and provided information processing capacity. Five respondents
described wearable technology currently offered in the commercial market with
comments like Things that already exist like USAF Tech Order. Manuals worn by flight
line maintenance technicians. Seven respondents mentioned the MIT Media Lab,
Xybernaut or Steven Mann. Eight respondents associated the product with Internet
mobility and wrote wireless Internet.
Negative Associations
Some of those surveyed created negative associations and made references to the
technology being borg-like (mentioned by five respondents): We are Borg :^). Three
respondents associated wearable computers with dorks and geeks with comments like:
dorks-r-us and dorks who need to get more sunlight and Hard core geeks.

117 Whereas this would solve wearable computers current input challenge, a wearable computer solely
driven by thought is not yet ready for the consumer market and is in development in academic labs.

One respondent linked being a geek with a lack of social interaction driven by
wearable computers:
A person covered with cumbersome apparatus, looking something like a
If the wearable computing equipment is subtle, the person will still
appear strange because he or she will be tending to the information coming in
via the equipment and not the environment around him or her.
Two respondents thought of wearable computers in relation to their market
presence with their comments:
- Hype.
- Wearable computing is currently a solution in search of a problem
- It is taking too long to arrive.
Feelings about Wearable Computing
Respondents from the first survey were asked to describe their feelings about the
potential of wearable computing. They were provided with the following options: Scary,
Apprehensive, Restraining, Unable to Escape Technology, Hassle, Too Difficult to
Understand, Exciting, Futuristic, Exotic, and All-Powerful. A few respondents (15
out of 256) immediately created positive associations like: cool, exciting futuristic,
wonderful, amazing, and the cutting-edge technology of the near future. A large number
of users 36.7% selected Exciting, followed by 28.9% of the respondents who selected
Future and 20.3% selected Unable to Escape. A small number of users selected
Apprehensive (9.8%), 8.2% selected Hassle, 7.8% selected Exotic, 5.8% selected All

Powerful, 3.9% selected Difficult to Understand, 2% selected Restraining, and 1.6%
selected Scary.
Survey #1: Emotional Reaction to Wearable


Emotional Reaction



Figure 3.6
Comments that were provided in the other comment field for this question is in
some ways the most interesting. Their comments included:
Cautious - what are all of the impacts? Test!
Inevitable, and hopefully eventually very useful.
I love the idea, as long as it's not in my brain.
Tool w/ purpose but not for own sake: cool factor.
Connecting everything, whether we want that or not.

Exasperated - concentrate on one thing at a time!
"Please God, is there a way to avoid it?"
Ok, it's about time...
Convenient; vulnerable.
Fear of ridicule.
Information overload.
Will it be the servant, or the master?
Transforming, if far-future (ten years) apps work.
Technology is not there yet . WinCE sucks.118
All three data collection efforts experienced and were aware of the impact that
wearing the computing product had on their social interactions.
3.7.1 Focus Group
J ill mentioned that it was difficult to focus on reality while wearing the Poma:
Depends on the application. Its distracting to have something here (put
her palm up against her eye) in front of you and having the world going on
around you in your other eye. It felt likewell it just felt kind of awkward.

118 Spelling and emphasis placed by survey respondent.

Dave commented on futuristic product enhancements that might solve that
Like having contacts with a device embedded and people would have to
look at your eyes to see little lights and realize that it is not coming from you.
(Laughter) It has to be unobtrusive.
3.7.2 Daily Use
Finally, J oe provided some commentary about the social interactions that he
experienced while using the device.
J oe comments,
As for peoples reactions, people thought it was quite cool. From my IT
department to other people around the company, once they got beyond the
general funny look...they were intrigued and on more than one occasion there
were a bunch of people that mentioned that if they could they would want to
embed certain technology in them or on them such as their cell phones. At the
same time, many of the people who looked said that they would be unable to
wear the device for a long period as it would wear on their eyesight and on their
heads (it its quite comfortable on mine, but not on theirs).
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
3.7.3 Surveys
Respondents in the first survey were asked about what type of reaction they
thought their friends would have to their purchases of a wearable computer as a way to
gather their concerns about the impact the wearable computer would have on their social
interactions. A few (11.9%) of non-PositiveTech thought very negative, 14.1% of that
group thought somewhat negative, 3.2% thought no reaction, 23.9% thought

somewhat positive, 18.4% thought positive, and 28.2% were unsure what the reaction
would be.
Out of the PositiveTech group, 14% thought the reaction would be somewhat
negative, 5.3% thought there wouldnt be a reaction at all, 24.1% thought the reaction
would be somewhat positive, 34.2% thought the reaction would be very positive, 22.1%
were unsure (See Figure 3.7).
Survey #1: Friend' s Potential Reaction to
Wearable Computer
Type of Reacti on


PositiveTech nonPositiveTech

Figure 3.7
Respondents in the second survey when asked about what they thought when
they saw the term wearable computing indicated concerns about how the technology
would change their social interactions:
I think technology is getting a little ahead of itself. Do people really
WANT wearable computers? I picture people no longer communicating with one

another directly -- like people already do today when they walk around talking
on their cell phones.119
Unnecessary. Just because it might be something we could do, SHOULD
we? Let's think about WHICH technology is good, appropriate, not use it
Nine respondents questioned whether we really needed to be available to others,
connected to the Internet constantly. They expressed concern with issues like the lack of
peace and quiet:
Do we need to be so connected? Really, has "portable" communication
like the cell phone really made our lives better? Or simply made us more chained
to our jobs etc? I see many people who just "must" stay connected wasting much
time and increasing their anxiety when not connected.
I am somewhat suspicious, because with laptop and home network, it
seems like there's no time when you can't be expected to work.
Something that makes me too available to others
24/7. Can the device show us away/unavailable in a way that is
I think of the benefits it could produce but worry about the abuses -- the
"big brother" effect, or more spam.
Is there no escape?

119 Emphasis placed by survey respondent
120 Emphasis placed by survey respondent.

3.8.1 User Interface
Various aspects of the user interface created concerns and issues with
consumers. The largest number of concerns and hesitations toward adopting the Poma
were focused on the HMDs, input devices and operating systems.
User Interface- Input Mechanisms
The third significant concern mentioned by focus group and daily use
participants was related to the continued improvement of the human-computer
interaction interface specifically the input mechanism. Alex Lightman, CEO of
Charmed Technologies, understands how this can be seen as a barrier to adoption:
Imagine trying to compose a complicated recursive find command line
while walking down the street: bringing up the main pages and trying to
memorize the options you need while simultaneously working out what the chord
combination is for an ampersand. Youd get hit by a bus! The whole point of
wearables is to augment your own capabilities. If youre using up 90% of your
brainpower just to work the wearable, its not an augmentation but a tremendous
handicap. 121
All of the user groups had concerns about the functionality of the input
mechanism, and some offered technological solutions that they would find more

121 Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet.pp. 160

Focus Group
Focus group participants were asked if they would be more interested if the input
were driven by voice recognition. One respondent commented that it would not be an
odd phenomenon. J ust with the wireless mikes, people talk into their cell phones now.
However that was followed by Stanley who commented, Can you image a room full of
people talking into their computer? (Laughter). Melissa responded, Seems like a
perfect thing for industrial espionage.
The output of the device is one thing, but the input is the other really
difficult thing to solve. Like this one, I found totally insufficient. The same with
Graffiti and the stylus on the Palm. It just doesnt keep up. Its not fast enough. I
cant integrate it into my life. One character every two seconds. (Many
participants demonstrate how difficult it is).
One female focus group respondent commented about her issues with the
Pomas optical mouse:
This one is kind of awkward because its the thumb and Im used to using
these two fingers with the mouse.
Tony suggested: How about something like the Sony Gyroscopic mouse? and
the followed up with, Why does that have to have wires? Its a wireless device, and
you have a mouse with a wire on it.122

122 In reality, the Gyration Gyromouse is distributed by Electroboard and you learn more here:

J oe took the conversation even further and started brainstorming solutions to the
input challenge:
I think that getting back to Minority Report and what not in relation to
input. But if youre going to get to a point where you are going to wear this all
the time is to really conceptualize and have it become your alternate reality if
thats the case. What is that horrible movie with Keanu Reeves? Johnny
Mnemonic. Exactly. Where his brain was a hard drive and he puts on gloves to
wander through space. Its the same as Minority Report. Where hed go into that
program and wear some sort of gloves. If you had clear gloves with some sort of
input and Bluetooth so, you wouldnt be wired to anything. And you could slip
them on and probably no one would notice, because the hardware would be on
your palms. And that would take the place of the input to create a space where
you could type or point.
Chording devices were described to the group as a follow up to J oes comment,
and the group was asked if they thought chording would solve the problem. Melissa
remarked that:
A large segment of the population is about to retire. So would a chording
device make it all that difficult and for folks who have bifocals and trifocals, how
much more difficult is it to use such a thing?
Daily Use
J oe had clear issues with the input mechanism for the Poma and had some clear
suggestions for product improvements.
The input device is quite pooreven if the device were to stay the same it
should be wireless. There are too many things wired to the computer. Ideally,
there would be some voice recognition and an alternate input device. The voice
recognition could work on two different levels; one would be on a command
level that would have key words that would activate certain systems (e.g. power
on, keyboard, etc.) the other would be vocal input for things such as typing in

Word. As for the typing, I would be a big fan of a glove system that had
different contact and gave the user the capability to type in a VR (virtual reality)
environment. It would also give them the capability to use one finger as a
pointer in lieu of a mouse. [I]t was much easier to see the monitor in darker
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
J oe was not far off base when suggesting an input device that could be
embedded in a glove. New Scientist Magazine reported in 1999 that researchers at
Stanford University were working on developing a system for entering data into a
computer using a special glove and a hand-signal language. Vaughan Pratt, the head
researcher at the lab has developed a one-handed sign language called thumb-code that
works by touching and grouping fingers in different ways and can enable 96 different
combinations including the representation of upper and lower case, numbers and
symbols. Pratt claimed that the language is easier to learn than Morse code and
proficient users could type up to 30 words per minute.123
User Interface -HMDs
Head mounted displays and the user interface (including current input devices
for wearable computers) was seen as one of the largest barriers to mass consumer
adoption by all data collection groups for a variety of reasons. First, users were not used
to being able to see a display screen through eyeglasses, and depending upon the model,
the screen blocked a piece of the visual field of the user. Though reassured by

Xybernauts sales staff that it would only take fifteen minutes to adjust and that the user
would eventually forget that the Poma screen was there, the focus group participants
were not convinced. The other major product issue mentioned by all study participants
was that the HMDs currently on the market makes it obvious that the user is wearing a
technology gadget that might attract negative attention. Negative reactions from
passersbys when wearing the device were experienced by J oe, the daily use subject.
This concern brings to the forefront the focus of HMD developers: developing a
device that isnt obvious and looks cool. "You've got to look cool," said Wayne
Piekarski, PhD student and wearable computer researcher at University of Southern
Australia, advocating a rule of thumb for any wearable computing product.124 "People
don't want to walk around advertising that they're a cyborg dork." Mark Spintzer, CEO
of MicroOptical mimics that focus and is currently focused on leading his company to
develop a product that is akin to Tom Cruises device that he used in Mission:
Impossible 2 where Cruise's character gets his mission communicated to him through a
pair of sunglasses.125,126

123 "Wearable Computers Come One Step Closer," Computergram International (1999).
124 For more information about Piekarskis research, you can visit his website at:
125 Dustin Goot, "Tech Specs: Less Geek, More Chic," WIRED, Dec. 03 2002.
126 MicroOpticals new HMD for video displays (for DVDs, not for display of data) is on the mark
the screen is completely embedded in the lens of the glasses and it is virtually impossible to detect by the
average passerby.

Display preferences were explored with the survey respondents. Respondents
from the second survey were asked to comment on the images of three different types of
displays for wearable devices that are on the market: MicroOpticals HMD,
Microvisions MicroDisplay Technology and Palms flat screen-on the device display,
and indicate which display they were most interested in and why.
Thirty-eight out of 93 respondents (40.8%) were most interested in
MicroOpticals display as a way to display data on a mobile device, 30 out of 93
(32.3%) were interested in MicroVisions Microdisplay and 25 out of 93 respondents
(26.9%) were most interested in a traditional handheld display (See Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7
Survey #2: Display Preferences
Head Mounted Display MicroDisplay Traditional Handheld

Those that selected the traditional handheld display as their display of choice
highlighted a range of reasons, including their familiarity with the interface, its ability to
be put away when not in use, its durability, and ease of use.
Ten respondents mentioned that they found the PDA handheld display the least
intrusive. Four respondents out of that group mentioned that they would find it the least
distracting. Quite a few respondents wrote that they selected this option because it was
the most familiar. Four respondents who selected the PDA screen mentioned that it was
because they did not want their technology attached to them, or they found the other
options too weird.
The other reasons given for selecting this display were directed at their concerns
about various issues with the other display options. Some respondents were concerned
about the ability to accomplish other tasks while using the other displays.
- The head-mounted displays I would think would have a very task-specific
application -- performing surgery, fixing a car. You'd have to perfect
your monocular vision, though, I suspect.
- Seems very practical, less that could go wrong, something weird about an
image floating out in front of you.
One respondent made a comment that at first glance seemed to be the argument
for the use of HMDs:
- Because the others seem like you can't do anything else while you are using
the equipment, the handheld you can have in your hand and be
watching TV or doing something else....

A few respondents were concerned about the impact that using the other display
options would have on their physical well being (headaches, eye strain). One
respondent linked her choice to her health condition:
- The other appear [sic] to obstruct your normal vision or call for one to
refocus, which would bother me. Maybe because I suffer from migraines
it doesnt sound appealing to me
The 40% of respondents who selected MicroOpticals display highlighted many
of the attributes and benefits already highlighted in the companys messaging.
- It can look just like a pair of glasses or contacts. It can give you info quickly
and quietly without being imposing.
Fourteen respondents made comments in relation to MicroOpticals HMD being
hands-free as a positive feature and that it seemed easy to use and comfortable to wear.
- Hands-free is ALWAYS a major plus. Superior-level voice-activated tech
would work here too. Besides, the headsets look cool. :D
Other respondents (five) made comments about how the bigger, clearer display
(vs. a traditional mobile devices small screen) was their determining factor in selecting
this type of display.
- Because I can't see the tiny screens. I want something I can actually see.
- I like the idea of a full sized screen instead of a small, hard to read screen.
The reasons offered against using MicroOpticals HMD focused on the
consumers lack of interest in wearing glasses.

- I have eye problems that would prevent wearing eyepieces.
- The glasses might work (if I'm understanding them correctly) but then you
have to wear glasses. Maybe if they are attached to sunglasses...
- I am also not interested in wearing glasses. I wore corrective lenses for years
(both glasses and contacts) and after spending $5K+ on laser surgery, I
don't want to have to wear glasses again.
One respondents comment illustrated the emotional reaction that needs to be
addressed and reconciled when marketing the hardware:
- Anything that transposes a visual field on top of the real world is very creepy
to me.
Many respondents mentioned that they would have to try them out in order to
make a decision between the three options. For instance, one respondent stated:
- Realistically, I'd have to test out each of them and compare how they operate,
how comfortable they are to use, how well they work without crashing,
how well they interface with your current system, etc.
- Im actually not too sure which one I would like the most. Id have to try each
Some of the positive responses to the Microdisplay option were based on the fact
the display was a new technology and looked cool: Rad!!! I want to try one out, said
one respondent, looks better, something new to try, said another. Others thought the look
of the display was not such a motivating factor toward purchasing the technology:
Although traditional mobile displays are functional, the option of
viewing a full-size screen is attractive. I wouldn't be caught dead in those head-
mounted things; they look like a 1980s sci-fi vision of a Virtual Reality Machine.
Do they really think people are willing to look like that on the Metro?!

I prefer not to have to wear anything on my head like a headset to be
able to view the display full size. What if I forgot it?
- I only have functional vision in one eye - I don't want it taken up with a screen
in front of it. The traditional hand-held is too clunky.
- Seems the least cumbersome because you don't have to wear anything on your
head and it comes in a smaller package than a traditional handheld.
- I have complete control over when the screen is in my field of vision and it is
space-saving/compact and can be larger in perspective in my field of
vision than the handheld display.
- The head mounts look dorky and the traditional displays are too small
Quite a few respondents had negative reactions to the Microdisplay:
- I don't like the idea of high-intensity light shown constantly in my eye. It has to
cause some bad eyestrain after awhile.
- Using 'a single tiny mirror to scan a low-power beam of colored light across
the eye'? Yeah, right. How does that work with sunglasses on, how
bad's the afterimage, and that just sounds unhealthy somehow.
- I don't quite understand microdisplays. If it's shooting beams of light directly
into my eye, I'm guessing I would have to hold it very steady. Id rather
have something that I can glance at when necessary.
- Getting older. It's hard to see the microdisplay.
- Seems to me that there would be less interference if the beam were displaying
directly to the eye.
Focus Group
The focus group participants had problems with the user interface for the Poma.
Their difficulty came from both the required adjustment to fit the HMD on their heads,

their inability to view all pieces of the screen while having both eyes open, and from the
Pomas operating system.
Melissa had issues with the Pomas HMD. Id want a head mounted display
with the display being a bit further away from my eye (holds arm outstretched in front of
J une commented, I found that I had to close my other eye to focus better. Its
like a telescope. Dave replied, After about 5 minutes, I was able to focus on multiple
things at once. It took awhile for my eyes and my brain to adjust. It was kind of
Tony said, The fact that someone thought that an object would remain on your
head by just pressing up against your forehead?
Ever the optimist, J oe was convinced that consumers would adjust to wearing
The other thing with this (and this one is obtrusive) but eventually I think
(as some people have said) if it becomes mainstream it gets to the point where
you would get unbelievably used to it (well maybe not this points to the Poma).
But its because were trying this here for 10 minutes, but if you were to try this
around for a week and half. And especially with the newer models, youd
probably get so used to it that you wouldnt notice the data and youd be able to
move beyond it if you didnt want to focus on it. Its the same time with the
pilots who use the heads up displays in the military they have all that information
flashing in front of them, but in the end when it comes to shooting down a target
they are not bothered by all the movement around them, they are focused on
what they have to get done.

Dave mentioned, With most of these things, it needs to be as unobtrusive as
possible. I want something up there in my face all the time; its going to be more of an
annoyance and a distraction. With something that you call up when you want it, and put
it away until I need it again.
Daily Use:
It should be noted that the product manual stated that the Poma should not be
used for more than 15-minute increments (presumably due to eye strain). There were
also clear warnings (embedded in the 45 total warnings in the manual) that the product
should not be used if the user could not clearly see the screen or if they became dizzy or
experience headaches. J oe did not seem to experience any of these effects, though he
had some clear comments about the difficulties of the HMD: as for the actual glasses,
they are much too obtrusive.
User Interface -Operating System (OS)
The Poma runs on the Windows CE operating system, and the focus group and
daily use test subject had issues with the usefulness of the system on a mobile device.
Focus Group
Dave, a focus group respondent encountered the same issues that the daily use
test subject had with the operating system: I dont think a desktop metaphor is good for
a device where you are mobile and on the go. That is a part of the reason why the user
interface is so terrible.

Stanley replied:
They have clearly positioned it as a laptop replacement based on the
operating system and software that they put on it. That is not an interface for
quick, down and dirty, Where am I, how to get to there? sort of requests. That
is a full function computer with all of its drawbacks. And how do you work with
a Windows system that is designed for a mouse and a keyboard and large
monitor and those sorts of things.
With the multiple drop-down menus that the user needed to access, the
participants ultimately responded that they would be happier with a Palm type interface.
Daily Use
J oe came to the same conclusion:
To truly have the functionality of an overlay. I do not believe this
product should be Windows OS based. It should be more like the screens in
Terminator or Robocop. Im not trying to make this into a little boys dream, but
really push to make this into a more viable product.
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
This product needs to run on a different OS and not be just a computer.
Instead, it should very much be like a HUD of a plane. You can focus on the
data if you want but you can also bypass the data and focus on the real life if you
want. Instead, what you have here is just a regular portable computer and that
being the case people would rather carry a laptop or a PDA for that kind of
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM

Marketing Focus:
Near the end of the focus group session, the focus group was asked to give
feedback about what marketing strategies and messages would allow them (and their

peers) to feel more comfortable purchasing the technology. Their responses covered a
range of suggestions from visual images that might help in advertising campaigns to
direct personal marketing strategies.
J une suggested customer testimonials: I would personally look for customer
testimonials. Other people who have used it and talked about it.
Dave reiterated that without compelling software, he didnt believe consumers
would be interested. Need to see why Id want to use it. There needs to be a
compelling use for it. I would look toward the software.
Stanley suggested cultural references and key messaging points, Six million
dollar display. Highlight the wireless and the mobility.
Mobility was a huge issue with all three data collection audiences. Being able to
use the product and watching others use it (as occurred during the focus group)
highlighted its lack of mobility.
3.9.1 Focus Group
J oe commented on how hard it was to complete a computing function and
interact with the real world at the same time: Right now especially when youre trying
to do a word doc youre setting there and (he puts hand over other eye) well lets see
(laughter) and it defeats the whole purpose.

In addition, J ane commented on how with the difficulty of seeing the screen,
social interactions were challenging. I found that while you were talking, I couldnt
pay attention to anything that you said while I had the thing on. I had a hard time. I was
completely focused on the screen.
Dave referred to other technology that also demands your attention while
functioning and the challenges that it created:
A few years ago, the car companies did a whole lot of research on heads up
displays for GPS information or that kind of thing on the cars. And they had a
couple of working models in the high-end cars, and it never really took off.
What they found is most people thought it was distracting and it took their
attention away from the things they wanted to be doing and should be focused on
doing which is watching where they were driving instead of looking at the GPS
and everything else at the same time. I think a lot of this would have the same
problem that its distracting.
J oe followed up on that comment by highlighting the fact that the issue would
only worsen with age:
I just wanted to say in term of the heads up display. One of my cousins is
actually involved in designing cars, and one of the problems that they found in
market research is that as you get older you have a harder time changing your
field of vision and I experienced this when I put it on. Think about it, they
were putting those heads up displays in high end Cadillac Im not buying a
high end Cadillac. Its going to be someone my dads age who is going to have a
hard time doing the Hey, I need to look over there (indicates with finger), and
now I need to check my speed (moves finger to his nose) and hey there is a tree
in my face (puts palm up against face). Laughter

3.9.2 Surveys
Related to the concern about being always connected, a few survey respondents
were concerned about how that would impact the users interaction with the rest of
society. Specifically, they were concerned of the dangerous behavior created by people
wearing their computers and driving, or during other acts of mobility:
I also imagine idiots trying to drive while on their computers...
With a wearable computer, you can work while shopping, exercising,
and - most frightening of all - driving.
People walking around obliviously looking at their little screens... the
way they walk and drive around w/ cell phones now
Convenience, freedom and multi-tasking information overload (i.e.
getting overloaded from private, wearable sources along with the current
environment sources - this is a big issue with cell phones - it isn't holding the
phone that causes accidents so much as it is the split attention span.)
3.9.3 Daily Use
J oe also tested the outer limits of the systems mobility during his daily use trial
and attempted to wear it during as many daily activities as possible. However, with the
products battery life of only 3 hours, he was not able to engage in prolonged activities.
He ignored the product manual warnings about wearing the product during periods of
time when attention is needed (this includes driving).
His experience:
On my ride, home I broke the rules and wore the device as I was driving.
With the device on I had a hard time at times keeping focus even though all I was

doing was driving and trying to avoid paying attention to the screen. It has a way
of creating tunnel vision. This was something that I had noticed earlier when I
tried to talk to co-workers with a Word document up. I was able to focus on
their face but the rest of their body would wash out. In general, it is much too
difficult to view the monitor or not the monitor.
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
All respondents were interested in the concept of wearable computers for their
ability to provide comprehensive communication and Internet features while mobile. In
the daily use test and focus group, however, the Poma did not withstand the mobile test
and all respondents found the Poma did not allow for true mobility due to its difficult to
use display and input mechanisms.
One of the largest issues highlighted by all three data collection efforts is that
consumers are unsure whether they even want always-on computing (which is what
wearable computers strive to provide). The focus group was encouraged to explore this
3.10.1 Focus Group
Dave discussed the always-on features vs. features currently available in todays
mobile devices:
One thing that we need to take into account is that there are two separate
and probably mutually-exclusive uses for the thing. The first is the Bill Gatesian
information at my fingertips sort of thing where once I get this information and
boom Im gone and acting on that information. And theres the "Im going to sit
down and work with this for an extended period of time". Those are two different

sorts of things. Its like the PDA vs. the laptop. PDA you want for just a quick
second to get something and the laptop youre actually going to sit down and
work. And you need to tailor the device to be one or the other.
Sam seemed to think that mobile computing wasnt made for always-on
functionality. I use a PDA and a cell phone. I use the PDA functions for 30 sec at a
time and then I put it away. Dave wasnt as bothered by the always-on computing just
as long as it was under his control, It would have to be at my initiation. I would have to
be the one that directed it to do something.
Other respondents could not envision wearing the device constantly with its
actions under their control and instead envisioned using the wearable as a device, which
they would be able to turn on and off and take on and off based on their personal
Dave commented, I think, if you used Bluetooth instead of wires to
communicate the display and if the display was integrated in your glasses that you could
slip into your pocket that would be ideal. Then I could boom put it on, do whatever I
want to do, boom put it down and go. I dont want to mess with wires.
Mike was only interested in a system that prompted him when it needed attention
due to his disinterest in wearing glasses or a HMD. He said he was interested in,
Something that could alert you and you could put the screen down. I dont use glasses
normally, so

Mike followed that comment with, You had something much less obtrusive.
Something that you push a button on your sleeve and it swings out. Thats fine. I have
a cell phone and its on all the time. But I dont look at it all the time. Stanley replied
with, Other people will choose to have it on all the times and will respond to you based
on your individual presence.
3.10.2 Daily Use
J oe commented on how the wireless Internet connection was essential for the
always-on functionality to be useful.
Network connectivity is key for a product like this because especially with
the way the input works, that is going to be one of the key reasons to have one of
these machines. Now, does this mean that it would be any better than any other
peripheral out on the market that would be perfect if it had good WiFi or 3G or
some sort of high speed connectivity? Actually, probably not, because even if it
were connected, it would come down to the question of being an "always-on"
tool or a "on when it is desired. If it is only on when it is desired there I cant
really think of any advantage. If it's to be "always-on" other major issues would
need to be covered before it would be viable.
3.10.3 Surveys
Respondents from the first survey were concerned about the effect that always-
on would have on their personal life, their privacy and their ability to get away.
I actually start worrying about how much computers will take over our
lives to the point that convenience overrides the need for privacy, but the more
that time goes by, the more that I am comfortable with even just portable
technology. The idea of wearable technology to me seems like another level of
convenience that supercedes the need/desire for personal privacy.

One respondent wrote, More intrusion, and another:
- Do we need to be so connected? Really, has "portable" communication like the
cell phone really made our lives better? Or simply made us more
chained to our jobs etc? I see many people who just must stay connected
wasting much time and increasing their anxiety when not connected.
- I think of the benefits it could produce but worry about the abuses -- the "big
brother" effect, or more spam.
- I already spend too much time online. I need to cut back.
- I need time AWAY from my technologies.
Market research films have established a clear link between smart fabrics and
wearable computing adoption by consumers. The data collected from consumers tells a
different story.
3.11.1 Focus Group
The focus group participants were asked about whether they would be more
interested in wearable computers if they were embedded in clothing. Their banter
illustrates the largest concern that consumers would have if offered wearable computers
in clothing.
Melissa: But that means Id have to wear the same thing? J une replied, Oh,
PLEASE that is SO last year.
Stanley also envisioned how smart fabrics and wearable computers could have
health applications: Children I can see. Something that help you track children or

monitors children for SIDs. J une commented that medical applicants for the other end
of the age spectrum: Aging. Something that monitors you and alerts the authorities if
you are in trouble.
J une commented that, People with physical activity who are training might be
interested (in something) that could monitor their heart rate, but then I would want it a
lot more light weight.
3.11.2 Surveys
Respondents from the second survey were asked if they would be more
interested in purchasing a wearable computer if it was embedded in a piece of clothing.
Twenty-one respondents (22.6%) stated that they were interested, 36 respondents
(38.7%) were slightly interested, 11 respondents (11.8%) had no opinion, nine
respondents (9.7%) were slightly not interested, five respondents (17.2%) were not
interested (See Figure 3.8).

Survey #2: Purchasing Wearable Computers in
Interested Slightly
No Opinion Slightly Not
Amount of Interest



Figure 3.8
Respondents were then asked about which smart fabric application interested
them the most: a MP3 jacket, a wearable computer embedded into fabric, a cell phone in
a jacket, or fabric that adjust to your body temperature to keep you cool when its hot and
warm when its cold outside. Forty-six respondents (49.5%) selected the jacket, 38
respondents (40.9%) selected the wearable computer embedded in fabric, 31
respondents (33.3%) selected a cell phone in a jacket; and 77 respondents (82.8%)
selected fabric that could respond to your body temperature (See Figure 3.9).

Survey #2: Interest in Smart Fabric Product
MP3 J acket
Cell Phone in
J acket
Wearable in

Figure 3.9
They also provided comments about other fabric products that they would be
interested in:
Monitor on sleeve instead of glasses/eyepiece.
Magic-fingers condoms.
Clothing that indicates temperature, air quality.
UV-sensitive fabrics that adjust to protect.
Respondents were then asked if they were interested in purchasing a smart fabric
product. Sixty out of 93 respondents (64.5%) said that they were interested. For those
who selected that they were not interested, they were allowed to provide comments
about why they made that decision; and their responses included:
- I like my clothing to be clothing and electronics to be electronics. I'm not
interested in the concept of melding the two.

Eleven respondents mentioned the high cost as a reason to not be interested.
Four respondents were worried about the washing and the comfort of the fabric.
- Probably too expensive and how do you wash it?
Seven respondents wanted to wait until the technology was more tested and
verified by testimonials from people they trusted.
- Not until they have been on the market, fully tested, and experienced in the
real world by people I trust.
Three respondents were worried about purchasing a clothing product imbedded
with technology when the clothing item would potentially go out of style.
- I dont know, it really depends on the style...
- That geek wears the same jacket every day
- Its an interesting concept, but unless the gadgets could be removed from the
clothing and used without the garment, it just seems like a waste to
duplicate something I may already have, or to purchase something that
has limited utility.
- Don't need it, don't want to maintain it, Don't want it to go to waste when the
style of it falls out of fad and it sits in closet
- If it could control temperature, that would be pretty cool (no pun intended).
- Too much trouble to take care of. Until they come up with one that I can ball
up and ram under a chair in a crowded meeting, I'll pass. Also, don't
want to have to worry about power supply or subtle changes that such a
widespread but low-level electric field might cause in my body
Survey participants were asked which piece of clothing or accessory they would
be most interested in if it was embedded with wearable computing power. Fifteen

respondents (16.1%) were interested in a wearable computer if it was embedded in a hat,
60 respondents (64.5%) were interested in a watch, 48 respondents (51.6%) were
interested in a jacket, 9 (9.7%) were interested in pants, 30 (32.3%) were interested in
glasses, and 12 (12.9%) were not interested in wearable computers embedded in
clothing (See Figure 3.10).
Survey #2: Preference for Wearable Computers in
J acket
Not Interested

Figure 3.10
All three data collection efforts created new ideas for applications of wearable
computers in response to users unmet needs. In the search for a killer application, their
suggestions are invaluable. Wearable computers present the user with a variety of
features not available through other mobile products like Palm or Handsprings.

Wearable computers function in an always-on mode with the inputs and outputs always
present and ready.
The following list illustrates the many uses that the wearable computing industry
has suggested as potential applications for wearable computers:
Stock traders integrated voice and data communication links to in-house trading
systems and to customers.
Game players (a $20 billion industry world wide Reuters 10, May, 2000) facilitate
the creation of captivating immersion game experiences. Game players would be
able to interact with computer-generated objects overlaid onto a real world
Medical doctors making the rounds for the Red Cross/relief organizations use
wearable computers for checking vital signs, supply inventories, consulting
medical databases.
News professionals could view video, retrieve stories, and read live reports.
Reporters able to access data portals for research and fact verification while in the
Sports fans at a live game could view player stats imposed onto their view of the
live game.
Fitness enthusiasts could track progress.
Tourists could access maps and local information and rent the system to see the
past overlaid onto the present.
Typical FFA uses.
Soldiers, CIA, police officers, emergency personnel.127

127 Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet.

Some of these ideas are already developed. Steven Manns WearComp takes the
above ideas about wearable computers functionality even further.
It enables us to interact with others through its wireless data
communications link, and therefore replaces the pager and cellular telephone. It
allows us to perform basic computations, and thus replaces the pocket calculator,
laptop computer and personal data assistant (PDA). It can record data from its
many inputs, and therefore it replaces and subsumes the portable dictating
machine, camcorder, and the photographic camera. And it can reproduce (play
back') audiovisual data, so that it subsumes the portable audio cassette player. It
keeps time, as any computer does, and this may be displayed when desired,
rendering a wristwatch obsolete. (A calendar program which produces audible,
vibrotactile, or other output also renders the alarm clock obsolete).128
3.12.1 Focus Group
Focus group participants were asked to list and rank the features of a wearable
computer that they were interested in the most. This activity assisted in stimulating the
discussion that later occurred concerning what they saw as potential applications for the
Poma. Their responses included such features as:
Tourist options
Read books

128 Mann, "Humanistic Intelligence: `Wearcomp' as a
New Framework and Application for Intelligent Signal Processing".

Contact management
Instant messaging
Cell phone
Scuba diving
Project display
Laptop replacement
The most popular potential use for the Poma envisioned by the focus group was:
mobile GPS to assist in finding directions and business locations (9 out of 12). The
second most popular potential use was communication functionality (cell phone, instant
messaging, email, instant translation) (7 out of 12), followed by mobile Internet (3 out of
12), and contact management (3 out of 12).
Their verbal responses were descriptive about how exactly they would like to
use mobile devices. For instance, J eff commented,
I would like something that has all the data that is on my laptop, that I can
carry around with me, with battery life that will last all day. That wont break my
back. That I can use with one hand. And I dont need to do data entry most of
the time. Every once and awhile I want some type of text input device whether
its a keyboard that I can plug in, or a keyboard that can project onto a desktop. I
mean text input for something that is portable is fine for me and probably for
most people, but I want the ability to recall data.

Some respondents couldnt envision any use for the product like Susan who
stated: Im not sure what I would use it for, and:
From a consumer standpoint, it seems like it is useful for extreme
interactivity. You want to gain input about what kind of restaurants or events are
occurring in the area. It seems like this model would be very hard to use and
communicate with other people. You couldnt even use it like you would a cell
phone or PDA. It would be too hard.
Some respondents envisioned specific applications based on their personal
activities like Barbara when she commented, Im a scuba diver. So something that is
waterproof that will tell you what a particular fish is or thats poisonous, dont touch
Mike talked about his potential interest:
If I were interested in this, (and I cant image it as a laptop replacement)
but I can imagine it as something like overlaying the world Im seeing with data
about whats around me. The biofeedback interested me or the architectural
details about the buildings that you are seeing.
Stanley was interested in applications that would simplify his personal life.
You just need to look at the type of applications that save you time and/or effort.
J une could see the Poma (or wearable computers in general) as hardware that
would simplify her social arrangements. It would be nice to know 7:30 on a Saturday
night as Im walking to the movie theater that 75% of the movies are sold out, so dont
even bother walking there. Tell me where the closest restaurant of this kind isthat
sort of questions.

Dave was the only focus group participant that was interested in the Poma for its
full computing functionality.129
If I had that one, what I would really use it for is that its a real pain in the
neck to be sitting in front of a monitor for 8 hours. Its hard to adjust the
monitor. If I had a keyboard with that display it would be great, I could sit on
the sofa and do whatever and not have to worry about lugging the whole thing
around. In my mind, its more useful as a desktop replacement than anything
In an attempt to get consumers thinking about the applications for the device
(and while waiting for their turn to try the Poma) participants were encouraged to read
and respond to seven different scenarios using wearable computers. They were asked if
1. Could see themselves in a similar situation
2. If they found the feature(s) useful, and
3. If the feature(s) described would persuade them to purchase the product.
The first scenario is as follows:
Scenario 1:
You and your family are visiting the US Capitol and want to spend a day touring
the sites. Youre an architecture buff, and youd like a tour that talks about the history

129 Considering his previous commented during the focus group that he was setting up a new server in
his house, Dave seems to be more of an innovator and not an early adopter and therefore not a part
of the market for this study.

of the monuments and buildings a little bit more than a regular tour would. Your partner
is interested in the famous historical events that occurred at various spots around the
capitol. Youd both also like to tour the sites at your own pace. Thus inspired, you both
decided to rent mobile tour guides for the day at $65 each. Armed with sunglasses with
embedded display screens in the right lens and a small device the size of a paperback
book strapped to your belt, a small optical mouse and headphones, you begin to wander
and enjoy the sites. When you approach a building, you are able to see the current
structure and with a click, you can see an overlay of what the building looked like when
it was built. When you click on various aspects of the architectural style, you get to hear
a narrator describe that aspect in more detail. Your partner, meanwhile, is seeing digital
images of the famous people who were involved in events at that location. By clicking
on the person, she has a narrator explain that individuals importance in history at that
All twelve participants answered that they could see themselves in that situation
and ten out of twelve thought the feature(s) described would be useful. Half of the
participants indicated that they thought the feature(s) described would persuade them to
purchase the product. One female focus group participant commented, I liked that one
but I was familiar with that because at the Smithsonian, they have those PDA type
things and Ive done that and its really cool. They display different levels of

Scenario 2:
You are planning a trip to France, yet you and your friends dont know a bit of
French. Armed with your mobile translation device, however, it hasnt been a problem.
Hidden in your pocket and transferring the translation to a wireless ear bud, you get to
hear the speakers conversation in English in your ear. You still use the systems digital
French to English translation dictionary because youre trying to improve your French,
but you were happy to have the real language-speaking program when your car broke
down in the countryside. With the systems built in GPS location services, you were
able to figure out where you were, but being able to have the mobile system correctly
ask the Frenchman you encountered where you could find the nearest garage, saved you
hours of frustration.
All twelve participants could see themselves in this situation and eleven out of
twelve indicated that they found this application useful. Eight out of the twelve
participants indicated that this feature was useful enough to purchase the product.
Scenario 3:
You are in the grocery store picking up beef for dinner. Once youre in front of
the meat counter, you realize that youve completely forgotten what cut of beef your
partner wanted. You quickly ring your partner at home and through the video display
embedded in your glasses, they are able to point out exactly what piece of beef they
needed for the beef stroganoff.

Similarly, you are in the video store and cant decide which video your partner is
most interested in seeing. Connecting with them via your mobile device, they are able to
see the video cover and read the description on the back of the case. You both
ultimately decide to surf the TV listings together from your cable companys website
and agree that re-watching The Matrix seems like the best plan.
This scenario was developed based on Steven Manns use of his wearable
computer in the grocery store to connect with his wife to experience shopping together.
Seven out the ten participants thought they could see themselves in a similar situation,
with only four participants finding this a feature that would be useful and only three
interested in purchasing a product based on these features.
Later discussions about this scenario in particular illuminated that most
participants did not feel as though they needed a wearable computer to conduct the
activities described in this scenario, and that they could accomplish something rather
similar by using their cell phone to call their spouse to check on the menu items for
Susan commented, If I dont remember what type of meat my husband wants
me to buy, if I have a cell phone on me Ill call him up or otherwise Ill just guess and
Im fairly unremorseful about it. Stanley replied, I think once you start doing it, it
would become more familiar. Its like before cell phones if youre in the grocery store
and you forgot to get whatever you were supposed to get, youll just get whateveryou

wouldnt even try. And now that I have a cell phone, Ill try to reach whoever, and if I
cant reach him Ill do whatever I think is best.
Scenario 4:
You and your family are enjoying the sites in New York City and during the
final hours of the trip decide to check the flight times. You realize that your flight is
delayed, and you decide that you have time to wander through SoHo after all and see
that free live performance that your wearable had alerted you to earlier in the day.
Eleven out of twelve participants could visualize themselves within this scenario,
and all the participants thought the functionality described was useful. Only seven out
of twelve participants were interested in purchasing a product based on this
functionality. This is also a scenario describing functionality that is not reliant upon a
system that is always-on with a HMD. With a strong wireless data network, all of the
above functionality could be accomplished with a wireless PDA device that accesses the
Internet and provides personalized information. This scenario, however, created
impetus for a discussion about the benefits and personal privacy threats of the push
advertising that would be possible with mobile devices and GPS location tracking. The
majority of the participants were actually in favor of GPS-based personalized services
pushed to their mobile device, just as long as they opted in for the push of information.
Im not trying to replace my laptop. My laptop does some things that in
theory only a laptop can do. But in these scenarios that youve got, they are

things that my laptop cant do and will not do for at least five years and these are
the things that I can see wearables being used for. Create the new uses, create
necessity for it, and then sell the product. For people that want to have the
instant translation, for the people that want to walk along in a museum and have
these things pop up with more information.
3.12.2 Daily Use
J oe also provided suggestions for added functionality that he thought would
enhance the product:
I would say that it would be good to have this system have the ability to
pick up TV. That would be another add-on that would make this a more viable
product that also has the capability for distribution.
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
J oe also mentions the ability to access and use GPS as a functionality that would
enhance the product. His response echoes the interest of the focus group participants in
being able to access social planning type information while mobile.
J oes comments:
What would be great is if when you were in a car you would get data
from the car up on your screen and also data for the trip that you are making
(travel info, places to eat, sights to see, and directions).
Entry 2-13-03 8:07 PM
3.12.3 Surveys
Survey respondents were then asked as series of questions about which
applications and features they would be most interested in if they owned a wearable
computer (See Figure 3.11). They were offered the following benefits: integration of

features, easy to see screen, lightweight, mobile Internet, MP3 Player, remembrance
aids, location and mapping systems, sending & receiving photos, and enhanced
All in OneApplication
The concentration of all communication and organizational features in one was
by 65% of Positive Tech and 61% of non-PositiveTech.
Easy to See Screen
An easy to see screen was selected by 59.4% of the PositiveTech and 64.5% of
non-PositiveTech, and overall 61.4% of the respondents were interested in an easier to
see screen.
A lightweight device was selected by 75.1% of the PositiveTech group and
65.5% of the non-PositiveTech group.
Mobile Internet
The ability to access the Internet while mobile was of interest to 68.2% of the
respondents, 69.2% of PositiveTech and 63.5% of non-PositiveTech.
MP3 Player
Respondents did not show interest in having MP3 capabilities in their mobile
computer. A little over a quarter of PositiveTech (27.4%) were interested (72.5% were
not) and 26.5% of non-PositiveTech were interested (73.4% were not).

Remembrance Aids
Remembrance Aids had a lukewarm reception as well. Only a little over half
(53.5%) of PositiveTech were interested, and 53.8% of non-PositiveTech were
Location & Mapping Applications
These features were of interest to 70.5% of PositiveTech and 61.7% of non-
Send & Receive Photos
In contrast to many of the new products on the market, consumers were not
interested in sending and receiving photos instantly. Only 24.8% of PositiveTech were
interested (75.1% were not) and 26.1% of non-PositiveTech were interested (73.8%
were not).
Enhanced Perception
Respondents were then asked if they would be interested in a wearable computer
that gave them an enhanced perception of the world. Even with the vagueness of this
option (and no details about how this would happen or what enhanced meant), 26.7%
of PositiveTech were interested and 26.4% of non-PositiveTech were interested.

Survey #1: Most Interesting Wearable Computing









Figure 3.11
Ultimately, the focus of this study is to determine if early adopter consumers are
interested in purchasing the technology, and all three groups were asked about what
issues would hinder their purchase. The cost of the product was also discussed, and the

focus group participants found the Pomas price tag ($1500) as too costly for the
features it offered.
3.13.1 Focus Group
Mike, a focus group respondent mentioned:
It occurs to me that this is more of a platform than anything else is, and it is
hard for me to judge the utility of the platform without seeing some specific
applications. It would be really useful to see what type of applications that they
have for this. Im not sure what I would use it for.
J ane, mirrored that comment by stating, I didnt see much of a gain over what I
could have with a cell phone (with an Internet cell phone or something). I thought your
examples were good because they made me think about things that I would use it for,
but I couldnt really see myself using that much.130 Barbara added, With the GPS
mapId be interested, but not interested enough to purchase.
In relation to the cost of the product, Dave had multiple comments throughout
the session. At that price point, no one is going to buy it without trying it once...I think
you would have to have the price point at the same point as a high-end Internet cell
phoneat that price point, I would have to be able to get rid of my laptop, my cell
phone, my PDA. And finally, Until you get it out in your retail channel in your Best

130 We must keep in mind, thought that J ane also mentioned during the focus group that shes been high
tech for so long that she feels like shes going the other way and decided six months ago to give up her
cell phone. Whereas her previous consumer behavior places her within the boundaries of the adopter

Buys where you can have demos and people can try it on, youre not going to have
anyone interested in it.
Kate commented, I could think of things that I could use for business. I could
see uses for it, but for my personal life, its too expensive. It doesnt offer that much.
Sharon added, Not for personal use, but I could see a commercial use for this.
3.13.2 Surveys
The first survey group was asked to select items that would potentially
negatively affect their purchase decision. Their options were: difficult to use, not
fashionable enough, too expensive, worries about repair, not having enough useful
features, not enough information to purchase, not having enough compatible
software, wireless access, and concerns about how well the technology has been
tested. With all of its limitations, most consumers who used the product were unable to
find a use for the product that was compelling enough for them to think about buying it
(see Figure 3.12).

group that would be most interested in the Poma, her current behavior would affect her interest and
relevancy for this study.

Survey #1: Issues Which Would Prevent Purchase







PositiveTech non-PositiveTech
Figure 3.12
Difficult to Use
Respondents were then offered a series of options that would possibly prevent
them from buying a wearable computer. Predictably, only 18.3% of PositiveTech would
be prevented from purchasing the technology because it looked too difficult to use,
81.6% were not concerned. A third of the non-PositiveTech group (38.2%) thought that
being too difficult to use would inhibit them from purchasing the technology and 61.7%
were not concerned about how difficult to use they perceived it to be.

Not Fashionable Enough
Over three quarters of the PositiveTech group (88.8%) were not concerned about
the fashionableness of the wearable computer. The majority of non-PositiveTech
(80.9%) were not concerned about fashion.
Too Expensive
Even without price information, survey respondents assumed (due to the
technologys recent entry into the consumer market) that the product was expensive. All
respondents were price sensitive and mentioned that they would not be interested in
purchasing the product if it was too expensive (78.4% of PositiveTech and 86.3% of
Worries about Repair
Concerns about being able to repair the product were on the mind of 31.3% of
PositiveTech and 39.7% of non-PositiveTech.
Not Enough Useful Features
This was a concern for 45% of PositiveTech and 37% of non-PositiveTech.
Not Enough Information
Not having enough information to make the purchasing decision was a concern
for 42.4% of PositiveTech and for 43.6% of non-PositiveTech.

Compatible Software
Not being able to purchase compatible software was a concern of only 23.5% of
the PositiveTech group and 30% of the non-PositiveTech group.
Wireless Access
Concern about the geographic reach of wireless access (which the device would
use to connect to the Internet) was a concern of 39.2% of PositiveTech and 51.6% of the
non-PositiveTech group. Survey respondents were not informed about what type of
wireless network wearable computers use, and this answer might be different if they
realized that it was supported by WiFi (vs. cellular) network. This was a concern of
focus group participants once they realized that the Poma only ran on WiFi signals.
Well Tested Technology
Over a quarter (29.4%) of PositiveTech group and 41.7% of the non-
PositiveTech group selected concern about whether the technology was well tested.
This showed that early adopter consumers were comfortable purchasing and potentially
adopting a technology that was new to the market and this aspect was not viewed as a
barrier to adoption.
Respondents in the second survey were asked if they were interested in
purchasing a wearable computer. Sixty-two out of 93 (66.7%) indicated that they might
be interested in purchasing a wearable computer.

The remaining respondents that didnt see a need for a wearable indicated a
range of reasons. Nine respondents (9.7%) selected that they would be concerned that
the technology wasnt tested enough. One respondent selected that the technology
looked difficult to use. Twenty-five respondents (26.9%) selected that they did not want
to be connected 24/7, and 7 respondents (7.5%) were not interested in the remembrance
Respondents were also allowed to select other and here is a sampling of their
- Ill wait a little bit until it better tested or I would prefer trial period for
- Don't know if I would or not. It would depend on what it could do and whether
I considered those functions useful enough.
Quite a few respondents were concerned about how it would affect their social
- I'm disconnected from the real world often enough I don't need to have the
real world represented as a video image.
Ten respondents stated that they did not see a need for the product. Moreover,
mimicking a common theme, many respondents were not interested in being constantly
connected to their computers.
- I do find it hard to be without web access, so I'm not a Luddite, but the
occasions are few and far between that I need "all the functionality of
my home computer" while not actually sitting at my computer.

- Too Borg-looking. I don't want to be connected 24-7-365. Power supply? I
have enough battery-powered leeches right now.
- I'm tied to technology too much during the day -- I need time to read my Bible
or a paper book, to interact with my wife and kids, or just look at God's
creation around me.
- Mainly, for the same reason I don't have a cell phone. I don't feel the need to
be plugged in or available all the time. Also, until the WCs are far less
cumbersome, I'd rather not be geeked out with an eyepiece, headset,
and/or PDA-sized wristwatch.
The four data collection efforts highlighted consumer concerns and pre-existing
attitudes about wearable computers that challenge the industry preconceived notions
about consumers interest in always-on mobile computing. Consumer sampled for this
study were not interested in always-on computing, were concerned about the impact the
technology would have on their social interactions, suggested various product
improvements and commented on their lack of interested in the integration of smart
fabrics and wearable computers. They also exhibited a range of pop culture associations
that should be taken into account when marketing an improved consumer wearable
computing product.
3.14.1 Not Interested in 24/7 Full Mobile Computing
The most startling finding from the three data collection efforts was that early
adopter consumer were not interested in full computing while mobile. They had a clear
understanding of what types of computing functions they were interested in completing

while away from their laptop or desktop, and none of those functions involved all of the
processing power of a full wearable computer. Most respondents even had a clear
psychological block against the concept of mobile computing and envisioned it as
encroaching upon their limited time in their lives interacting with other people, their
families and away from computing devices. A good number of respondents, however,
were interested in a device which provided them with a number of mobile device
functions to support their mobile life, and high on their wish list was true mobile Internet
(with full content), GPS and map support while mobile and mobile communication. A
good number of the respondents indicated their interest in a product that integrates all of
their mobile and communication devices into one.
3.14.2 Concerned about Social Impact
All participants were concerned about the social impact that wearing a
computing device would have on their interpersonal interactions (as well as larger social
interactions). Survey respondents were worried about how distracting computing while
mobile might be and how that might have larger safety concerns. This concern was
reiterated with the focus group and the daily test subject once they had a chance to use
the Poma and discover for themselves how distracting the HMD was from reality.
Everyone who had a chance to use the Poma had a hard time truly using the product
while mobile and only J oe (while sitting) was able to see the screen and focus enough to
be able to use the device. However, it was clear from interactions with him while he

was conducting computing tasks that he was unable to carry on a conversation or focus
on reality around him while navigating through the menu items to complete a computing
3.14.3 Issues with Product Interface and Features
There were clear indications of product improvements that needed to be made to
the Poma before consumers will even be interested in considering the product for
purchase. They included: improved battery power, simple wireless Internet
connectivity, better input mechanism, non-obtrusive display and a Palm or Pocket PC
interface instead of the Windows CE OS. They were also concerned about durability,
not interested in considering the product without applications that suited their mobile
needs, and were all disinterested in the Poma immediately when they saw the wire that
connected the HMD to the computing unit. Surprisingly, the largest number of
respondents (40%) were interested in MicroOpticals display (over the traditional
handheld display) as a way to view the display from the mobile device.
3.14.4 Disinterest in Smart Clothing with Embedded Wearables
Despite the industrys focus on the success of wearable computers based on
developments and marketing of smart clothing, all three data collection efforts
highlighted the state of the consumer mind which was very lukewarm if not blatantly
against the integration of computing and clothing. The largest issue seems to be the cost

of the garment considering that clothing purchases are often dependent upon the latest
fashion. Most consumers were concerned about essentially purchasing a technology that
would go out of style and are therefore be unusable due to concerns about social fashion
consciousness. A large number of respondents were concerned about the
fashionableness of the wearable computer even without it becoming integrated with
wearable clothing (over 85% of the survey groups indicated that this would hinder their
purchase of the product). It was also an issue mentioned by the focus group participants
as well. Therefore, while consumers were not interested in a direct integration of
computing and fashion, fashion did play a role in their potential purchase of a device
that is so publicly visible.
3.14.5 Cultural
Finally, in the process of developing an analysis of the current and future
marketing for wearable devices it becomes important to note the number of times and
the variety of cultural references that were made by survey respondents, focus group
participants and the daily use test subject. Not only were consumers saying that they
would respond positively to an advertising campaign that utilized cultural references
(movie screens, television shows, cultural icons, etc), but they were also stating that the
history of pop culture that they have grown up with would affect their preconceived
definition of a wearable computer. With the older respondents, it was Dick Tracy and
his watch that can do everything, for younger respondents it is J ohnny Mnemonick.

Without intentionally creating expectations, companies like Xybernaut need to be aware
that the history of science fiction has primed this early adopter market to become
comfortable with dreaming about how science fiction can become reality. This market
has lived through that phenomenon with fax machines, cell phones and even the
Internet, and their expectations were higher due to their faith in the fact that often
technology can mimic what they see on the big screen or coming out of Hollywood.
The findings within these data collection efforts showed that wearable computers
(specifically the Poma) are not ready for consumer adoption. The product needs
significant adjustments in user interface (including the selection of operating system and
HMD), in the development of available applications, and in support for true mobility.
The high number of mobile technology users who also responded to technology with
positive adjectives supports the hypothesis that the market for new mobile technologies
will be represented by individuals who respond positively to new technology and are
more accepting of new-to-market technology. However, wearable computing firms
might want to note that consumers were not interested in true mobile computing with its
always on functionality, but rather a simpler device that they can turn on and off at will.
The potential market for this device is divided between negative associations
with the concept of wearable computers and enthusiasm for their potential. It seems as
thought they have pre-existing attitudes and beliefs about what wearable computers are

and what they can do, and this needs to be addressed in future marketing campaigns for
this type of product. A large number of consumers also created associations between
wearable computers and Hollywood-created concepts and icons, which could be used as
the foundation for messaging. Wearable computers are viewed as futuristic and cool
and a visual representation of a future most of the public has only seen in science fiction.
Playing upon those associations with images in advertising campaigns would add a great
deal of strength to the consumers concept of what wearables could mean to them in
their personal life.

Chapter 4: Limitations to Mobile Internet
The feature consumers are most interested in that is offered by wearable
computers is its ability to provide full-page web content while mobile. Therefore, the
type, availability, and access to a wireless network will affect the adoption and growth
of wearable computers. The constraints and restrictions that currently exist in the
various wireless data networks will translate into restrictions on wearable functionality,
and a thorough discussion of the various wireless standards and technologies that are
currently available and are predicted for the future is essential to any prediction of
wearable computer adoption. Policy and standard decisions in regards to WiFi
(Wireless Fidelity) and cellular networks will directly affect the development of a
network capable of supporting the multi-media functionality and features that are
essential to consumers interest in the product. There are varieties of technological
limitations currently present in wireless networks that need be addressed before large-
scale adoption would occur. These include limited data transfer rates, difficulties with
seamless communication and limited geographic reach. This chapter will focus on
outlining the wireless data network that wearable computers currently rely on as well as
discuss the other wireless data transmission technologies available for mobile devices to
access the Internet.
Various standard related bottlenecks will slow adoption of wearable computing
technologies. The first is the deployment of high-speed digital communication via

wireless networks (Mobile Internet Services) necessary to run the advanced applications
(like GPS and data transfer) that a wearable device can offer the user. Mobile Internet
Services as defined by the Gartner Group is the area of Internet connectivity which
includes mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and similar devices.131
The history of wireless data communication in the US is littered with low
adoption rates and use largely due to the diversity of standards available and the
limitations of current spectrum technology. Within the US, the market-driven battle to
establish a single standard for such devices has not yet been successful in creating a
dominant standard for all portable devices. The Wall Street J ournal described the US
situation as a Tower of Babel-like syndrome. a hodgepodge of competing standards
that (makes) it difficult to achieve a seamless world-wide wireless experience. 132
4 Wireless Data Networks Introduction
A variety of wireless two-way networks (cellular and Wireless Fidelity WiFi)
constitutes the wireless data market. These networks are organized in a hub and spoke
structure where all the wireless enabled devices speak to a central access point a
structure that is prone to network bottlenecks when traffic increases and is reliant upon

131 Brian Dooley Carol Skvarla, "Mobile Internet Access Services in the U.S.: Perspective," (Gartner
Group, 2001). Pp. 2
132 J ames B. Murray, Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America. pp.

one point of failure (unlike the Internets structure where one point of failure does not
result in failure of the network). These two types of networks have distinct structures
and histories but are united in that as network infrastructures they are impacted by
features universal to network economics specifically: network effects, economies of
scale, standards and subsequent policy actions to establish or regulate the use of
standards and customer lock-in (or path dependence).
4.1.1 Network Effects
Network industries (like cellular and wireless internet services) are strongly
affected by network externalities and effects. Network externalities are defined as a
change in the benefit that an agent derives from a good when the number of other agents
consuming the same kind of good changes.133 Network externalities can be either
positive or negative and usually occur beyond the predicted impact of the technology.
Network industries increase in value to the individual user as more users join the
network; therefore, interoperability (the ability of software and hardware on multiple
machines from multiple vendors to communicate.) is essential to the success of products
relying on network infrastructures.134 Network effects represent the increase in value of
the network to the user as the network becomes larger. User participation in a network

133 S.J . Liebowtiz and Stephen E. Margolis, "Network Externalities (Effects)," (2002).
134 Denis Howe, The Free on-Line Dictionary of Computing [website] (, 1993-2001
[cited February 17 2003]); available from

is therefore heavily dependent upon that users expectations about the benefits derived
from network participation or the size of the network.135 Consumers who purchase
network industry products expect that the quality and value of the infrastructure that the
product relies on will stay the same or become more popular in the future. In many
cases, the decision to purchase the good is therefore determined more by expectations of
future value than solely by the price of the good or component. Networks increase in
size (the number of users driving more physical infrastructure) faster when greater
varieties of products use the same system. Standards that maintain the rules and
technological specifications for a product to use the network encourage the development
of interoperable products. The variety of cellular standards & WiFi standards have led
to the establishment of a large number of distinct wireless networks many of which are
not interoperable. Mobile consumers are interested in joining the network that has the
most features (like high data transfer rates), the largest user base, and the largest
geographic reach. Mobile products outfitted for a network that meets most of those
qualities have the greatest chance for successful adoption.
4.1.2 Economies of Scale
Economies of scale affect cell phone networks and they exhibit high sunk costs
and low marginal costs. The cost to deploy the network is significant, but the cost to run

135 S. M and Farrell Bensen, J , "Choosing How to Compete: Strategies and Tactics in Standardization,"

the network per users is nominal. Cellular networks have been developed in a fashion
that makes them interoperable with other carriers. Each system uses one of the variety
of wireless voice and data standards within the US and internationally, but users on one
network (with one standard) cannot transfer their equipment to another standard.
Moreover, the features offered by one standard are not universal to all. This translates
into cell phone users of one network becoming locked-in to that network. The cell
phone company's practice of requiring one-year minimum service agreements with their
customers only aggravates customer lock-in. This is called customer lock-in and
customers are unable to shift to a different network or service plan based on their
hardware choice. Because voice transmission are routed through landed lines, cell
phone users of one system do not have problems calling either land lines or other cell
phone users, but SMS (short messaging services) are not available between different
cellular carriers.
4.1.3 Standards
One of the characteristics of network industries (which are often called
cooperative constructs) where products and services provided via (or as a part of) a
network are deeply reliant on cooperation between the various nodes in order to operate
and remain competitive. Often this cooperation is developed through the establishment

J ournal of Economic Perspectives 8, no. 2 (1994). pp. 118

of standards and agreements that maintain interoperable between the nodes. Standards
are composed of agreed-upon rules or models that outline principles and practices to
follow that will ensure interoperability. Establishing a universal standard not only
encourages industry competition (which means different options for consumers) but also
encourages the development of products that rely on that network structure. It also
benefits the corporation either to be the one who created the most-used standard or to
supply the equipment for that standard. Network markets by definition offer
potentially lucrative returns to firms that can establish their own products as standards
on which competition in the market, or in after markets for complimentary goods, will
be based.136 It is essential that customers on the network are able to get their
equipment to communicate to the network (and to other people on the network) and this
is only accomplished when there is a universal standard in place.
Technology standards are developed in two ways. Within the US, wireless
cellular standards have been established by de facto (market-created standards) and
WiFi standards have been created by de jure standards (committee development). The
way a standard is created greatly affects the rate of network growth and the development
of products reliant upon that network. While government-imposed standards might
result in a technological inferior standard being adopted, it usually spurs more rapid

136 Mark A. Lemley & David McGowan, "Legal Implications of Network Economic Effects,"

network growth.137 When it comes to a mobile product, widespread access to a wireless
network is essential to its success.
It is necessary to understand the mechanics of wireless communication to fully
appreciate the technological challenges that face the communication medium and policy
issues that have developed to manage its use.
Wireless communication began in 1831 when scientist Heinrich Hertz
demonstrated the wave character of electrical transmission through space that led to
Italian engineer and inventor (and physics Noble Prize winner) Guglielmo Marconi to
demonstrate wireless telegraphy in 1895 using long wave transmissions.
Electromagnetic waves carry voice and data from the mobile device to a receiver
and then on to another wireless device or the Internet. The number of oscillations per
second of an electromagnetic wave is called its frequency, f, and is measured in Hz (in
honor of Heinrich Hertz). Electromagnetic waves all propagate at the same speed in free
space or vacuum: the speed of light. Since the speed of light is a constant, the frequency
and wavelength are inversely proportional and at higher frequencies, electromagnetic
waves tend to travel in straight lines and bounce off obstacles (which is why cellular

California Review 86, no. 479 (1998). pp. 24.
137 This is illustrated in the Europeans adoption of GSM.

signals have issues in areas with tall obstacles). For example, high frequency waves of
the order of 10 MHz to 100 MHz are absorbed by rain at high frequencies. The
frequency range from 100 MHz to 100 GHz is called microwave. Digital cellular
phones operate in the 800/900 and 1800/1900 MHz band and are thus classified as
microwave transmitters. Data from digital mobile devices are actually carried over the
air in continuous analog electromagnetic waves. The process of combining information
signals on top of a carrier signal is called modulation (as in AM amplitude modulation
and FM frequency modulation). Infrared transmissions are used for directed links and
the most widespread use of this technology is used to connect laptops and PDAs. The
2.45 GHz range is used by Bluetooth and WiFi.138
Developing technology that relies on wireless data transmission is a risky
proposition due to the panoply of wireless networks out there and the lack of single
standards within the US. Data is transmitted wirelessly using radio signals and in the
US that occurs both within spectrum that has been auctioned by the FCC (the legislative
body that regulates spectrum use) or within the unregulated spectrum. Wireless

138 Bluetooth is the term used to describe the protocol of a short range (10 meter) frequency-hopping
radio link between devices. These devices are then termed Bluetooth - enabled Radios that comply with
the Bluetooth wireless specification operate in the unlicensed, 2.4 GHz radio spectrum ensuring
communication compatibility worldwide. These radios use a spread spectrum, frequency hopping, full-
duplex signal at up to 1600 hops/sec.

networks are unique in their standard setting behavior because they have to interoperate
with hundreds of millions of other devices and thousands of interconnected networks.139
There are varieties of Standard Development Organizations (SDOs), which are
involved in the development of new wireless standards as well as managing the existing
standards. The SDOs are comprised of national and multinational groups of companies
who work together to resolve standard and spectrum issues. The SDOs include:
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
The J apan Association of Radio Industries and Business (ARIB), which primarily
focuses on WCDMA for IMT-2000.
The Telecommunications Standards Advisory Council of Canada (TSACC).
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which is a US repository for
standards considered to be semi-permanent.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a charter organization of the
United Nations that manages standards regulation for satellite and radio spectrum
on the international level.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the US spectrum.

All of the global mobile communication standards (AMPS, GSM and W-
CDMA) are committee-based standards (with international participation) that are for the
most part sponsored by governmental agencies. Further, several of the global and non-

139 Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet. pp. 28

global standards have evolved towards a more open or committee-based standard setting
system in order to gain broad support. Europeans believe in standards, while the US
believes in market forces GSM is one of the few examples where the approach via
standardization worked.140 Open standards attract a larger number of service
providers and manufacturers, thus increasing the amount of competition within the
standard and the number of agents who can act as agents of diffusion.141
4.3.1 WiFi Standards
Wireless transmission of data occurs in other areas of spectrum. IEEE (Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) developed the 802.11 family of standards for
wireless LAN (Local Area Network) standard. The standard originated with the 802.11a
standard which operates in the 5 GHz frequency range (5.725 GHz to 5.850 GHz) with a
maximum 54 Mbps data transfer rate. WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) became the name of the
certification for 802.11b that operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency range (2.4 GHz to
2.4835 GHz) and provides a throughput of up to 11 Mbps which is up to 200 times
faster than a modem connection and more than 4 times faster than the speeds promised
by "3G" networks. Microwave ovens, cordless phones, medical and scientific
equipment, as well as Bluetooth devices, all work within the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

140 J ochen Schiller, Mobile Communciations (New York: Addison-Wesley, 2000). pp. 11
141 J effrey L. Funk, Global Competition between and within Standards (New York: Palgrave, 2002).
pp. 13.

The newest standard, 802.11g provides a throughput of up to 54 Mbps and uses a
different radio technology to boost overall bandwidth.
An international governing body, not a company that owns the prominent
standard, created the WiFi standard. This type of standard development process has
allowed a larger range of companies to provide WiFi hardware and services. Its use of
non-regulated spectrum has allowed WiFi companies to deploy their network quickly
and to sidestep the regulations and policy bottlenecks that plagued the cellular
infrastructure development.
4.3.2 WiFi - Structure
Creating a WiFi network requires users to 1) have an existing connection via an
Internet Service Provider; 2) purchase a wireless hub/router, and 3) purchase wireless
cards from the applications that will be connecting via the hub. Rather than purchase
wireless data connections as a service, the user configures hardware to establish a
connection. The user, however, needs to purchase high-speed Ethernet-based (DSL or
cable) service from an ISP to enable the base computer to access the Internet. Most
wireless networks are established within one building or home, though access can also
be accessed through publicly provided WiFi. Hotspot is the name for a location that
provides public wireless access. Hotspots share their DSL, cable, or T1 broadband
connection via an Access Point that transmits the signal to the users wireless card in the

mobile device. Multiple users then connect through a login page in their Internet web
browsers. Coverage extends over a 100-300 foot radius of the access point.
The 802.11b network normally has a range of up to 300 feet when there are no
obstructions and can transfer data at speeds of 11 M bit per second. Unfortunately, due
to the fact that 802.11b operates in an unlicensed band of spectrum, the signal can
experience interference from radio noise (often generated by microwaves and cordless
phones), humidity, air temperature and resource reduction (from other appliances using
the same hub) and therefore the signal is not as stable as a cellular signal.
WiFi uses unregulated spectrum, which means that the FCC does not regulate its
use. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) however, does impose
regulations on the WiFi equipment to ensure that WiFi transmissions do not use access
bandwidth and that the WiFi devices do not interfere with other devices using the
spectrum. The FCC requires that the devices use one of three spread-spectrum
technologies (which disburse the signal over the entirety of the band): Direct Sequence
Spread Spectrum (DSSS), Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS), or Orthogonal
Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). DSS spreads the signal over multiple
channels in one frequency range without hopping. It uses a binary string called a
spreading code that sends redundant transmissions, and the transmitter and reviving
devices of the signal use the same code to find and piece together the signal. FHSS
divides the signals among sub channels in a random pattern understood by the

transmitter and receiver and uses hopping to transmit the data. The hops are short bursts
of data and the amount of time between the hops is called dwell time. OFDM divides
the spectrum into sub channels and sends a portion of data over each one.
4.3.3 Other Wireless Data Standards
The other two standards used for wireless data transmission are Bluetooth and
HomeRF. Both technologies use FHSS. Bluetooth can transmit data 50 feet at 1 Mpbs
and HomeRF can transmit data at 10 Mbps. Based on their transfer rate and geographic
range, neither technology is worth considering as a viable option for mobile
technologies to use to connect to the Internet, though Bluetooth is gaining widespread
support as a technology used to eliminate wires between devices that are in close
proximity of each other.
Due to the organic nature of WiFis infrastructure growth, the fixed costs are not
disproportionately high compared to the marginal costs (every device needs a wireless
card and the hub is only slightly more expensive than the cards). This type of growth,
however, translates into spotty coverage and a hub and spoke type network structure.
There are various positive and negative externalities created by an organically growing,
decentralized network. For instance, most consumers would like to connect to the
Internet from everywhere. However, Internet connection relies upon the good will of

businesses that offer free wireless connection as an additional service or neighborhood
consortiums that provide connection as a social statement.
4.4.1 Usability Issues
Another factor hindering public WiFi development is the difficulty in
configuring the software provided by WiFi hardware companies that is clumsy, requires
users to learn about arcane settings such as "SSID" (network names) and "WEP"
(network security). Hotspot operators expect users to configure their WiFi cards
manually to gain access with limited technical support. Representatives from Linksys
(one of the largest WiFi hardware distributors) themselves admit that setting up a WiFi
card and network are so difficult that they are the largest portions of technical support
calls they receive.142 This is partially due to the ability for wireless hubs to lose network
connection settings when the wireless hub experiences a loss of power or the ISP loses
connection. WiFi networks also frequently lose signal due to their use of an unregulated
portion of spectrum that has competition with other devices. In cellular networks the
device is configure to the network once (which is established when the phone is
purchased) and it never loses those settings. In contrast, WiFi networks often require re-
establishment of settings and a more intimate knowledge of setting configuration. In

142 Linsys Technical Support, phone conversation, February 9 2003.

addition, the limited coverage of any one hot spot operator means that users will need to
sign up for different Hotspot operators depending on where they are.143
4.4.2 Security Issues
Wireless encryption also has not been perfected. Companies running 802.11
networks can use the Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP) an optional feature that offers
the equivalent of the confidentiality of a wired LAN that does not employ cryptographic
techniques to enhance privacy.144 The wireless LAN is only as secure a system as the
wired link that it connects to when WEP is enabled. When WEP is enabled, the hub and
the client stations have keys and the key is used to scramble the data before it is
transmitted via airwaves. The hub only receives and delivers packets to the hosts that are
properly scrambled and have the assigned key. Network security experts, however, state
that since WiFi products are delivered with the encryption turned on, about 85% of the
802.11 networks have WEP turned off and are at risk for security breaches. From a
network infrastructure standpoint, this lack of education about the importance of security
features results in users not configuring their WEP, and the network becomes vulnerable
to a variety of data and information security issues that are not present within most
wired Internet connections and create an increased risk for unaware users.

143 Boingo Wireless, How Does It Work? [website] ([cited 2003]); available from
144 2000. What is Wap?

Security issues need to be resolved within the wireless network sphere before
widespread use of wireless applications becomes a reality. Currently without wires, it is
difficult to keep track of all the users connected. Moreover, with a quarter of a mile
range for most wireless hubs, there is plenty of opportunity to hack into a wireless
4.4.3 Future Deployment - Subscription
Various strategies exist that are focused on increasing the deployment and reach
of WiFi networks. One of the corporate models that promises access to a WiFi network
with a larger coverage area involves linking corporate hotspots together and providing a
simple login process for a monthly, annual or one use fee. One such subscription
service currently being deployed nationally is Boingo, which eliminates the complexities
of configuring to public WiFi networks by using their sniffer software.
Boingos subscription service allows mobile users to (while using Boingo
software which compiles and configures the settings for public WiFi networks
automatically) for a subscription fee. The businesses that subcontract with Boingo
receive a cut of the revenues every time a Boingo subscriber accessed his/her WiFi hub.
Key to the widespread deployment and use of Boingo is the development of a consumer
base that does not have to incur high switching costs to become a part of the Boingo
network. Boingo is addressing this by establishing proprietary agreements with
hardware manufacturers. As of March 2002, Hewlett-Packard had agreed to bundle its

laptops with Boingo functionality and WiFi hub provider Agere Systems has agreed to
include Boingo access with its air cards.145 Part of the key to Boingos potential
success (even against free and organically growing WiFi networks) lies in establishing a
first mover advantage (they are one of the first companies to link hubs together over a
significant amount of geographic area) and to develop a easy plug n play setup for
users. If Boingo is an easier to install and use system with a wider coverage area, they
might be able to sign up customers even when competing against a free option.
Boingo has a plug n play sort of functionality that is not present within the free
networks. Establishing a connection to a free WiFi network requires a wireless card and
more significant knowledge about how to adjust the wireless settings. The battle
between free and subscription based WiFi is impacted by which infrastructure develops
the widest coverage. Home use of WiFi networks are assisting in developing a base of
consumers with the hardware necessary to access WiFi networks. which will speed the
use of public WiFi networks. However, home WiFi network users might be more
comfortable configuring their own settings when connecting to a Hotspot.
4.4.4 Future Growth
Expectations among some analysts predict a WLAN market of around $7 billion
in 2005, though this may easily be exceeded if all market segments can be successfully

145 Peter Howe, "Wireless Connection," The Boston Globe, March 22 2002.

addressed - especially if roaming is made possible between the corporate, public, and
home networks146 There are standard development processes occurring in Europe that
may increase the viability of WiFi as a significant mobile network. The HiperLAN 2
standard developed by Europes Broadband Radio Access network within the European
Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) runs on the 5 GHz band (the same as
3G) and is purported to have a variety of features beyond 802.11b such as:
High and scalable capacity as the number of users increase in the system.
Managed bandwidth with predictable performance for each user and application.
Robust protocols that also optimize the overall throughput of the available radio
resource, making it the most spectrum-efficient WLAN technology operating at 5
A high level of security.
OS capabilities to support virtually any type of service or application.
Ease-of-use through a set of auto-configuration tools.147

Additionally, HiperLAN promised to provide interconnection with 3G networks,
the ability to plug n play, and increase security features. HiperLAN seems like a strong
option for use by mobile devices that demand high data transfer rates and extensive

146 Search, Spatial Division Mutiple Access [website] (Whatis?com, [cited 2003]);
available from,,sid7_gci501705,00.html.
147 Ibid.([cited).

geographic reach. However, HiperLAN is currently only widely tested in Europe and is
not being deployed as extensively in the US as the 802.11 set of standards.
Consumers are much more accustomed to mobile devices where they pay a
connection fee for a service, and the device is forever connected. For this reason, even
though wearable computers are configured for WiFi technology, the footprint of cellular
networks makes it a more viable option. However, cellular networks have their own
challenges, and a through understanding of the various standards and their distinct
feature needs to be considered when evaluating cellular networks as an option for
wearable computers.
There are two ways to transmit voice over a cellular network: analog or digital
signals. Analog signals were developed earlier in cellular history and can not support
data transmission, and digital signals were developed to support that type of information
transportation as well as in an attempt to increase the number of users who can use a
section of spectrum. Spectrum efficiency can be gained by compressing the signal, but
cellular analog signals cannot be compressed and manipulated as easily as a true
digital signal. Digital phones covert voice signals into binary information (1s and 0s)
and this allows for between three and 10 digital cell-phone calls to occupy the space of a
single analog call. A pair of frequencies (one for transmit and one for receive) is used to

create one channel. 148 The frequencies used in analog voice channels are typically 30
kHz wide -- 30 kHz was chosen as the standard size because they give the user better
voice quality comparable to a wired telephone.
To transmit and receive frequencies, each voice channel is separated by 45 MHz
to keep them from interfering with each other. Each carrier has 395 voice channels, as
well as 21 data channels to use for housekeeping activities like registration and
paging.149 Cellular systems are unique in that they reuse frequencies and hand off the
signal to the next cell (the area serviced by a cellular tower) when a user moves out of
Each major improvement in cellular structure and the development of new
standards is described by the industry as a new generation(G) of services. Roughly,
1G encompasses analog standard development, 2G is the establishment of standards that
allowed for data transfer, 2.5G allows for enhanced data capabilities. The current
newest standard is 3G which allows for faster data transfer rates, and the proposed 4G
network (or Ultrawide Band) standard would be able to truly support the always-on,
mobile data transfer demanded by the new and future mobile technologies. Deciphering

148 Marshall Brain and J eff Tyson, How Cell Phones Work (, [cited February 4
149 Ibid.([cited).

cellular standards is a difficult task, and industry jargon is always changing, as
commented by Richard Levine, founder and principal engineer of Beta Scientific
Laboratory and former chairman of several working groups in the North American
digital cellular standards development, who stated: Warning, jargon subject to change
without notice! Beware of total confusion.150
4.6.1 1G- First Generation
The first mobile analog telephone system was set up to serve the countries of
Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden with the Nordic mobile telephone (NMT)
system using the 450 MHz carrier. NMT was the first commercially available analog
system, introduced in Sweden and Norway in 1979.
The second analog signal was launched in 1980. Advanced Mobile Phone
Service (AMPS) has since become the most successful analog standard and is deployed
on all continents. In 1983, it was approved by the FCC and first used in Chicago.
AMPS uses a range of frequencies between 824 megahertz (MHz) and 894 MHz.
European countries decided to develop a different standard to include most of Europe in
1982 that utilized the 900 MHz spectrum. Their new standard Global System for
Mobile Communications (GSM) was entirely digital and allowed roaming through

150 Richard Levine, Digital Switching (Richardson, TX: Richard Levine, 1996-2001), powerpoint

Europe and was not backward compatible (dual mode hardware which allowed for
digital roaming). The major advantage of the digital systems (second generation) over
analog (first generation) is in voice quality and in the level of efficiency with which they
use the frequency spectrum.151 In addition, subsequent generations of cellular network
development are able to offer higher data transmission capabilities.
4.6.2 2G - Second Generation
The move to digital cellular signals is characterized as second generation within
the cellular industry. Second generation digital services were first started in 1992 in
Europe and by 1995, digital services were being offered in more than 100 countries. 2G
networks were substantially faster and were able to support 9.6 to 144 Kpbs roughly
the speed of a dial-up modem or ISDN line.152
The first US digital standard was the IS-54B dual mode standard, which used
time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) technology. (A dual phone uses digital signals
when available, defaults to analog signals when they are not, and is backward
compatible). The US increased the spectrum capacity by using a variety of technologies
including: The three largest incompatible systems that were developed were TDMA

151 Funk, Global Competition between and within Standards. pp. 38
152 Lifang Chou, "An Analysis of Wireless Internet Industry in Th Networked Economy" (MA,
Georgetown University, 2001).pp. 16

based IS-54 in 1990, CDMA based IS-95 in 1992, and TDMA based all digital IS-136
in 1994. Each US standard used a different approach to gain greater efficiencies from
the same allotted spectrum.
TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) divides each frequency channel into
time slots, and each user is allocated a time slot, which improves spectrum capacity. In
other words, each call uses a certain portion of time on a designated frequency. Using
TDMA, a narrow band that is 30 kHz wide and 6.7 milliseconds long is split time-wise
into three time slots. D-AMPS (Digital Advanced Multiple Mobile Phone System) used
TDMA to use the same bands as the AMPS system to allow for digital transmission. It
was developed to increase capacity and allow for backward compatibility. The decision
of which cellular system to support in the use was hung up in legislative arguments over
whether to use FDMA, TDMA, or CDMA for two years. GSM is also based on TDMA
as well as PCS systems, however PCS works in a higher 1.9 GHz band. In 1990,
American cell phone subscribers grew from 1.5 million in 1998 to 13 million in 1993
and cellular companies began to run out of capacity.153 The USs second digital system
was proposed by Qualcomm, Inc. as a solution to the capacity problem. Called IS-54 it
is based on CDMA.

153 Levine, Digital Switching.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) gives a unique code to each call and
spreads it over the available frequencies.154 This results in multiple calls being overlaid
on each other in the channel, with each have a unique sequence code. In CDMA, the
data is sent in small pieces over a number of the frequencies available within a specified
range. All users transmit in the same wide-band chunk of spectrum and each user's
signal is spread over the entire bandwidth by a unique spreading code. The receiving
device uses that same unique code to recover and reassemble the signal. Because
CDMA systems need to put an accurate time-stamp on each piece of a signal, it
references the GPS system for this information.155 Current 2G services are known as
In Europe, GSM applied a more efficient approach a new section of the spectrum
(the 1800 MHz range).156 GSM was standardized and when it was discovered that
AMPS in the US and GSM in Europe were not sufficient for the high density of users in
the cities, Europe allocated more spectrum for wireless use the 1800 MHz spectrum.

154 Tyson, How Cell Phones Work ([cited).
155 Ibid.([cited).
156 Chou, "An Analysis of Wireless Internet Industry in Th Networked Economy". pp. 17.

In the US, additional spectrum was not allotted and different companies developed new,
more bandwidth-efficient systems to try to solve the problem.
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) was developed in the early
1980s by the Conference Europeanne des Postes et Telecommunications (CEPT) and it
led to the adoption of GSM as the European standard. It is based on TDMAs strategy
for efficiently using spectrum, though it applies it a bit differently. GSM was developed
as an open standard by the GSM Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Association
assisting in the formation of inter-company agreements within Europes new allotted
spectrum. GSM operates in the 900-MHz and 1800-MHz bands in Europe and Asia,
and in the 1900-MHz (sometimes referred to as 1.9-GHz) band in the United States. It
enables the PCS-based systems and the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (IDEN), a
popular system introduced by Motorola and used by Nextel. PCS requires a larger
number of antennas to cover a geographic area. PCS phones use frequencies between
1.85 and 1.99 GHz (1850 MHz to 1990 MHz). Moreover, while it is based on TDMA,
PCS has 200-kHz channel spacing and eight time slots instead of the typical 30-kHz
channel spacing and three time slots found in digital cellular.157

157 Tyson, How Cell Phones Work ([cited).

4.6.3 2.5G 2.5 Generation
Consumers were clambering for higher data transfers that were possible with the
development of 3G services, so within the US, the FCC decided to auction new
spectrum. The spectrum action became mired in legislative proceeding similar to the
FCCs initial management of spectrum for the establishment of cellular in 1982.158, 159
Ultimately, corporations were unwilling to wait for the release of spectrum for 3G and
began to form interim solutions (based 2.5G). 2.5G encompassed GPRS and PCS
standards. The enhanced second-generation services that are called either 2.5G or 2+G
increase the bit rates of existing standards and are therefore able to introduce limited
data functionality.
GPRS is a 2.5G data transmission technology that was optimized for services
such as wireless Internet and multimedia. It is also known as GSM-Internet Protocol
(IP) because it is based on 2G GSM services and it connects users directly to Internet
Service Providers (ISPs). GPRS will allow mobile devices to be connected via their IP
addresses. Developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

158 For an in-depth discussion of cellular policy, read The Wireless National by J ames B. Murray.
159 In 1982, the federal government was watching the successful battle between standards in the
personal computer industry (Microsoft and Intel) and mistakenly believed that unbridled competition
was the best way to spur adoption and growth in digital cellular. Funk, Global Competition between and
within Standards.

and theoretically supports data transfer rates of up to 171.2 kbps by utilizing all eight
channels simultaneously. This data rate is roughly three times faster than today's fixed
telecommunication networks and about ten times as fast as current circuit-switched data
services on GSM networks. Identical to how the Internet sends and receives data, GPRS
is reliant on packet switching. Packet switching means that GPRS radio resources are
used only when users are actually sending or receiving data. Using GPRS, the
information is split into separate but related packets before being transmitted and
subsequently reassembled at the receiving end and it can facilitate instant connection
and create a perception that it is always connected.
4.6.4 3G - Third Generation
3G is truly an umbrella term for a variety of approaches to bringing high-speed
Internet services to cell phone systems, which different from continent to continent from
country to country.160 Within 3G a variety of standards are used including: SDMA,
4.6.5 SDMA
SDMA (Spatial Division Multiple Access) simply increases spectral efficiency
by more effectively managing the distribution of calls across the spectrum. The
technology uses satellite dish antennas to transmit signals to numerous zones on the

earth's surface. The antennas are highly directional, allowing duplicate frequencies to be
used for multiple areas on the earths surface. SDMA has a variety of technological
limitations that have encouraged use of other standards. For instance, SDMA requires
careful choice of zones for each transmitter, and precise antenna alignment, for a small
error can result in failure of the signal, signal interference, and confusion between
surface coverage zones.161
TDMA is currently providing the basis for the development of Universal
Wireless Communication (UWC-136), a third-generation standard that in its first phase
will provide a data transfer rate of up to 64 Kbp, and the second phase is predicted to
provide up to 115 Kbps in a mobile environment.
CDMA is a digital wireless technology that allows multiple users to share radio
frequencies at the same time without interfering with each other. 3G services use new
high-speed versions of CDMA called W-CDMA.
CDPD is a digital, packet-based network that is over-laid on analog cellular
services. It is an always-on service similar to GPRS, but is more common in the U.S.,

160 Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet. pp. 88

since GPRS is associated with GSM, which is not as common in the U.S. as in other
parts of the world. Most CDPD service is in urban areas and along interstate highways.
Transmission speed depends upon how many people are using the system. It employs
unused frequencies along the voice channels, and uses packet switching to allow data
transfer rates of up to 19.2 Kbps, a quicker call set up than using dial-up modems.162
4.6.6 4-G Future of US Cellular
Current spectrum standards are not able to effectively meet the growing demand
for advanced service (full mobile Internet) and an increase in the number of users.163
Fourth generational cellular is an entire digital packet-switched network which is
purposed to provide multimedia services with tighter network security. All of the new
standards that provide this type of functionality are referred to as 4G within the industry.
The two most prevalent scenarios involve the development of a high-breed of CDMA
and TDMA called TD-CDMA and an upgrade solution for GSM networks called
Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS).

161, Spatial Division Mutiple Access ([cited).
162 Carol Skvarla, "Mobile Internet Access Services in the U.S.: Perspective." pp. 5
163 Phillip Ames & J ohn Gabor, "The Evolution of Third-Generation Cellular Standards," Intel
Technology Journal, no. 2nd quarter (2000).

One of the scenarios for improving spectrum use and simplifying the number of
options to the end user is by combine TDMA and CDMA radio air interface technology
into one system. This proposed scenario, referred to as TD-CDMA, would retain some
of the GSM-TDMA design features, such as frame and time-slot structure, and the
CDMA technology would add better interference averaging and frequency diversity.
This proposal would also provide excellent spectral efficiency that CDMA offers with
the well-understood characteristics of TDMA-based GSM.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System is based on the 2.5 system
GPRS.164 As a key member of the 3G technologies, UMTS is predicted to be the
natural evolutionary choice for operators of GSM networks, currently representing a
customer base of more than 747 million end users in over 180 countries and representing
over 70% of today's digital wireless market.165 Simon Forget of OSI, and IT
consultancy, believes that UWB could be a viable solution for 4G systems. UWB, as
spread spectrum, could compete with all existing technologies in that it embraces them
all, functionally, be they PHS, DECT, Tetra, Bluetooth, CT2, GSM, IMT2000, or

164 UMTS, What Is Umts? [website] (UMTS Forum, 2003 [cited); available from http://www.umts-
165 GSM Association, Gsm World [website] (GSM Association, [cited February 17 2003]); available

AMPS.166 UMTS is repudiated to solve many of the problems that currently plague
3G. It is purported to be able to transmit through walls and move tons of data in
UMTS still has technology kinks to iron out before becoming the solution to the
high-speed services that consumers demand. J org Kramer, vice-president of
Mannesmans Mobifunk division, predicted in 2000 that UMTS would only likely to be
able to deliver data transfer rates between 32 and 64 kbps. When his company tested
UMTs they found that,
It will create speeds of 384 kbps, but only if you are the only person using
the network, standing next to a transmitter and not movingYou have a choice:
Stand still have get your 4 MB MP3 song in 10 minutes, or move around and
take a half an hour to a full hour - if you dont drop your connection, which is
likely, given that coverage will be incomplete for several years. 167
Quotes like this illuminate why certain corporations are involved in the
development of 4G.
Wearable computers current utilize WiFi standards to access the Internet and
transfer data. There are varieties of disadvantages to this strategy. One, most wireless

166 Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet. pp. 207
167 Ibid. pp. 17

networks have their own proprietary standards, and there is no single network which
covers enough geographic area and provides enough high speed data transmission to be
a viable option for wearable computers. Secondly, there is user confusion when finding
a Hotspot signal and configuring the WiFi device. Finally, it seems as though federal
regulation is needed rather than market forces to open up new spectrum for the
deployment of cellular 4G and