For this week’s blog post, instead of looking at how the seamless world of content is disrupted by that which contains it, I am going to look at how wearable technologies can potentially do the opposite of that by seamlessly integrating the digital and physical world.
A brief history of wearable computing
Steve Mann is a pioneer and inventor of wearable technologies from the early 90’s. Some refer to him as the father of wearables since they have been a part of his life and body since the 1980’s. He has tackled issues such as privacy, sousveillance, and cyborg-law (Wikipedia, 2016). One of his inventions developed at the MIT Media Lab from 1994-1998, Sixth Sense, is a gesture-based wearable device that comprises of a camera, mirror, and projector worn around the neck (Wikipedia, 2016). His designs were further developed by Pranav Mistry in 2012. It is named Sixth Sense because it supplies extra information directly to the user, in addition to their five senses (Wikipedia, 2016).
Sixth Sense (not the movie…)
I will focus on the design of Sixth Sense by Pranav Mistry and some of the ideas for the device. Pranav’s logic is that we interact with our environment with our five senses that give us information and parses knowledge of the world around us. His idea is to bring information from the digital world to the physical world without the reliance on either physical-based mediums such as paper or digitally on a screen (Mistry, 2010). We should be able to interact with our world using natural hand gestures that we are all familiar with. For example, taking a picture by making a rectangle with our fingers. By projecting information onto any physical surface a person could browse the web or send an email. Pranav’s TED Talk on Sixth Sense shows you all the possibilities of the device.
Breaking the container
The rise of mobile devices and computing have tied us to either a space or device that mediates our experiences through a screen. I found Sixth Sense to be interesting because it seamlessly integrates the digital world with the physical one. For example, in his TED Talk, Pranav is reading a newspaper; the device scans the picture in the headline about a Presidential speech and the video of the talk can be played right on the surface of the paper being held. There was no need to use another device to look up the video or additional information. Every task can be done through the device around your neck using the materials around you and natural hand gestures. Instead of having to carry a dedicated e-reader, tablet, or physical book any surface can be used to project text. If a surface is not available the hand can be used as well. I find something like this extremely useful and it plays with the idea of containers by eliminating the need for them. The spheres of physical and digital are no longer separated by different devices but are seamlessly integrated into one medium. It will be very exciting to see where the development of this technology goes.
Mistry, Pranav. (2010). Sixth Sense: Integrating information with the Real World. http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/
Wikipedia contributors, “SixthSense,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=SixthSense&oldid=706133763 (accessed March 10, 2016).
Wikipedia contributors, “Steve Mann,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Steve_Mann&oldid=708447748 (accessed March 10, 2016).