Windows 8 investigate

Waiting for the wearable personal computer

The time is approaching when a computer on your person will be better and more productive than your desktop.

While most people are either praising or objecting to the upcoming Windows 8 or obsessing about touch as an input method, I'm wondering when my personal computer will become available. My needs are relatively simple: I want glasses with a transparent HUD, a phone with a real OS and Kinect-like gesture, and voice recognition.

The glasses I require need a high resolution transparent display, with accompanying microphone and speakers. They also need to incorporate some Kinect-like sensors so they can read my gestures. The computing power would be mainly in my phone and the glasses could connect through Wi-Fi. Now I know Epson, Sony, Google, Microsoft, and others are already working on these types of glasses, but they seem a little way from a commercial release. I have noticed that Kogan is currently selling a pair of video glasses (they record video) for around AU$40. All I need is a depth sensor and a multi-array microphone next to the video camera, and, of course, a transparent HUD.

To avoid becoming "Yet Another Toy", the phone/glasses combination will require a powerful OS that will let me do the same kind of things I can do on my desktop, laptop or tablet. The coming release of Windows Phone 8 fulfills this requirement, as it is based on the NT kernel and shares a number of common APIs with Windows 8, as well as increased screen resolution over WP7. The Windows 8 Modern UI is designed for multiple input methods, so I can combine gesture with voice commands, as well as using a "mouse" pointer or a virtual keyboard in mid-air or on any surface I wanted. Video Skype calls, watching movies, browsing the web, or serious Office work could all be done in any environment. Navigation systems would become personal, tags can pop-up over real world entities, and people's Facebook profiles can float over their heads. It also offers a great tool for LARP (Live Action Role Playing), so I could take my World of Warcraft fire mage into the real world and launch virtual fireballs at other participating gamers.

However, while the possibility of my PC exists, there's still a lot of software/hardware to improve and develop, but I feel at least optimistic that we'll see some movement towards these devices in the next few years. I didn't really expect that we would have a Kinect device this early and certainly didn't expect it to be sold to the general public.

Now I probably won't be satisfied until I have a display wired to my optic nerve, an embedded computer, and a few extra petabytes of memory inserted in my skull (with indexing please), but the glasses/phone combination seems to be becoming more and more likely. It promises a personal computer that will be with you all the time (or, at least, until you take them off), and the freedom to leave behind desktops, laptops and tablets.

About

Tony is the owner and managing director of Microcraft eLearning and is one of the creators of the AUTHOR eLearning Development System.

8 comments
Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I think it would be easy to build a very high end computer in a notebook style that can sit in a case that straps on like a back pack or side pack and uses a HUD shield that's like a very large pair of glasses, but the power to run it for more than just a few minutes will be a killer. Yes we now have notebook batteries that last for several hours of use, but the existing HUD technology really draws a lot of power, much more than the notebooks do. Thus the power source would have to be about ten times what is now used for a notebook - that's a lot of space and a lot of weight. Then you have to add in the sensors etc for the gesture style input system and power for that. I do seem to remember seeing an article on a virtual reality system a few years back that worked with a HUD and a special sensor suit to detect body movement and gestures to feedback to the computer. But the whole thing worked of the mains and fed through a large desktop computer, so it's likely you could get the computer down in size, but that power issues still needs resolution.

grayknight
grayknight

being able to play games with virtual fireballs wearing glasses with transparent hud displays. I'm thinking of some cool games that could be played this way. Though doing Kinect gestures in a crowded subway might look a bit weird...

jjustice
jjustice

I think this type of configuration is the only way to fly. I want to be able to project my screen somewhere so others can see what I see (this could get congested during meetings). I would ned a second set of non-computing-communication glasses to use for driving and walking.

dogknees
dogknees

Means it needs not only a desktop OS, but desktop performance. Phones are a long way short of that and will be for a long time. You just can't stuff the CPU, GPU, RAM and disk space available in a desktop into that sized box and run it from batteries. Even the so called desktop-replacement notebooks are still a long way short of what I can get in a desktop. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for wearable computers, personal area networks and so on, I just don't think they will be a complete replacement for a desktop any time soon.

pschurr
pschurr

Put a tip jar in front of you and call it performance art.

grayknight
grayknight

but when do you need more than a quad core processor over 2GHz and more than 4GB of ram? My first desktop computer was a 286 with 12Hz when on turbo and 1MB of RAM. Pretty much all phones now could run that box as a virtual machine, several times over, and still work as a phone.

dogknees
dogknees

Rendering, video encoding, CFD, simulations,... At the same time with no slowdown of the interface so I can do other stuff while waiting for them to complete. I can easily pin all 8 threads at 99% with this stuff and do so regularly. When I can render graphics like Avatar in real-time, I might be happy. But then I could start building entire planets at micro-metre resolution,... There's no limit to the amount of processing power one could use if it was available. And, yes, I know that is not typical, but we are talking abut ALL desktops.