What If We Become Dependent on WearComp?
Some people fear that we'll become dependent on wearable computing, but I
think this fear is unjustified. Wasn't it
once said that compilers, assemblers, and even pocket calculators would
cause our brains to atrophy? Long ago I
could do arithmetic quickly by hand, but now I would be a little slow in
doing something as simple as finding the square
root of 2 with pencil and paper. I'd also find it hard to program in 6502
machine code, as I did for my first wearable
computer system, without the help of an assembler or a compiler. Freeing
ourselves from mundane tasks like
arithmetic or hand assembly of computer instructions lets us think at a
higher level. Tools such as pocket calculators,
assemblers, and compilers have greatly extended our capabilities, enabling
us to develop a whole new set of higher level abilities.
Indeed, we probably will develop a dependence on readily accessible
computing, just as we have developed a
dependence on wash-and-wear clothing - and desktop computers, for that
matter. The fact that some primitive societies can still survive quite well
without clothing while we've probably lost our ability to survive naked in
the wilderness in all but the warmest of climates doesn't support the
argument that we should do without clothing.
Someday, when we've become accustomed to clothing-based computing, we will
no doubt feel naked, confused, and lost without a computer screen hovering in
front of our eyes to guide us. By that time, fortunately, increased
reliability will be an important part of the design. Just as we would not
want our shirt buttons to pop off or our trousers to fall
down, we will demand that our computer clothing not go down either.
Wearable Computing: A First Step Towards Personal Imaging