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The PC Goes Ready-to-Wear

Once hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind devices, wearable computers are now mass-marketed and available off the rack--and the next generation may be virtually unnoticeable

13 min read
photo of user wearing the IBM Wearable PC prototype
The IBM Wearable PC prototype packs the computing power of a Thinkpad 560 laptop computer into a package the size of a personal stereo.
Photo: Nicholas Eveleigh

Concentrating the computational power of a multimedia desktop or laptop computer into a central processing unit only slightly larger than a hand-held organizer, wearable PCs are finding plenty of users in the commercial world.

On assembly lines they are welcome in tight and busy quarters where even a laptop computer has no surface on which to perch. Others in industry are being used to help repair factory equipment, inspect airplanes and track repairs, or keep tabs on inspection equipment that must be brought on site and then removed. Physicians are using them to access patients' charts and e-mail messages. And anyone who has tried unfolding a laptop in an airplane's cramped cabin might prefer this small PC, too.

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This Wearable Neck Patch Can Diagnose Concussions

Self-powered sensors convert neck strain into electrical pulses to detect head trauma in athletes

4 min read
image of back of man's head and shoulders with a patch taped to his lower neck; right image is a time lapse image of a man's head extending far forward and back, simulating a case of whiplash

The prototype patch in this research is shown in (a) on the left; on the right (b) is the kind of head rotation that can yield an electrical response from the patch.

Juan Pastrana

Nelson Sepúlveda was sitting in the stands at Spartan Stadium, watching his hometown Michigan State players bash heads with their cross-state football rivals from the University of Michigan, when he had a scientific epiphany.

Perhaps the nanotechnologies he had been working on for years—paper-thin devices known as ferroelectret nanogenerators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy—could help save these athletes from the ravages of traumatic brain injury.

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Video Friday: PoKeBo Cubes

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
A young girl looks at a cluster of three simple robots facing each other on a table

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4 November–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14 December–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Free On-Demand Webinars on Data Acquisition Boards and Their Applications

Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more

1 min read

Dive into the world of digitizers and explore how they can benefit your application. Explore the basics of digitizers, pulse detection, peer-to-peer streaming, and more. Whether you are a scientist, engineer, student or if you want to know more about Teledyne SP Devices deep knowledge base there is something for everyone. Register now for these free webinars!