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Wearable transcends portable

A few tech companies have something up their sleeve--and on their belts and visors. It's wearable computing.

Makers announced wearable computers and fabrics that conduct electrical impulses a few years ago. But size, weight, cost and regulatory issues have kept them from going mainstream, till now.

Getting a heads-up

Microvision Inc.'s first Nomad visor-mounted display weighed over a pound. A new model weighs just four ounces and can be wirelessly connected to a small keypad worn on a belt.

The unit is also connected by Wi-Fi to a nearby server, enabling the user to call up database information. The head-up visor display uses a harmless red laser to project information--usually diagrams--onto the user's retina.

Price is $3,995, significantly lower compared with $10,000 for the original model used by US soldiers in Iraq, said Tom Sanko, marketing vice president of Microvision.

The first big rollout of the product, the Nomad Expert Technician System, is designed for car mechanics, in a partnership between Microvision and Applied Data Systems, which designed the thin-client belt module.

Microvision is working with Canon to develop a consumer electronics model. "It will have a different architecture. We are working with Canon for a version that would fit into a digital camera and project full color. We're working to miniaturize the display mechanism even further," Sanko said.

Canon will sell the camera, while Microvision will use the Nomad CE module in other form factors. "It could easily be integrated into a pair of sunglasses. We are a couple of years away from that," said Sanko.
Thanks to 'rrknowsmore' for tonight's links.


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