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BusinessWeek Online: Wearable Computers You Can Slip Into

Next generation wearable computers could become commonplace within a few years. Unit shipments of such wearable computers -- purses, watches, shirts -- should rise from 261,000 last year to 1.39 million in 2008, according to the tech research firm IDC.

REVENUE ENHANCER. Wearables are also slowly making their way into the auto-repair market. A company called Microvision (MVIS ) recently introduced its Nomad head-mounted display. It covers one eye, but it's see-through, allowing auto technicians to examine the innards of a car and check them against on-screen computer drawings at the same time. It comes as a baseball cap clip-on, to be more unobtrusive.

So far, it's a hit: At Jim Fisher Volvo dealership in Portland, Ore., which has been testing the system for about seven months, productivity of technicians went up 10% to 20%, says Service Manager John Prosser. Better yet, customers talking to technicians who are wearing these contraptions also are more likely to agree to repairs, pushing revenue up 15% to 18%. Says Prosser: "This makes [technicians] want to get involved and to cross this bridge of reluctance" in using a new technology.

Indeed, many more people will want to cross that bridge in the coming years -- making for a booming market for wearable computers that don't look like something out of an old Star Trek episode.

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