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Wearable computing has been an active area of research in the academic world for 20 years. In that time researchers from fields including computer science, electrical engineering, augmented reality, textiles, architecture, psychology, and fashion (to name a few) have worked together to build a rich body of knowledge. These researchers have invented technologies, built and tested applications in the field, and worked with users of all types to discover how to apply wearable computing concepts effectively in domains such as manufacturing, public safety, military, health and wellness, assistive technology, gaming, agriculture, architecture, sports, social computing and the list goes on.
So why does the average consumer not have access to wearable devices and applications of all types? This is because the field was waiting for two major changes to occur. First the technology used for research was often expensive and/or fragile. The equipment was sufficient to build prototypes and to run experiments, but there were few systems that were robust and cost-effective enough for large scale deployment. Now with the rise of powerful mobile devices coupled with the very recent emergence of consumer accessible head-mounted displays from companies such as Google, Vuzix, and Oculus we now have technology platforms that are mature and affordable. Next, we had to wait for society to be culturally ready to embrace wearable computing. Millions of people have experienced how a constantly accessible mobile device can improve their lives and now they are ready for an even tighter coupling between their minds and their devices. We are now we at the cusp of wearable computing becoming pervasive in our lives, but there is considerable work to be done to transition these concepts from the research lab into the our daily lives.