The Wearable Personal Cloud
Wearable tech is one avenue of technology that’s encouraging cloud connections and getting us all onto interconnected networks, and with the continued miniaturization and advancement of computing the types of wearable tech are always expanding and providing us with new opportunities. A few years ago, smartwatches were rather clunky devices with their computing power quite obviously on display, but today the sleek devices that adorn our wrists offer as much style as tech capability. How long until the stylish eyewear sported offers more than protection from UV rays, and the clothes we’re donning provide insights into our physical condition?
Wearable Tech & The Cloud
Much of wearable tech’s advantage is in the data it’s able to collect, store, and ultimately send out for analysis. The cloud plays an integral role in wearable tech, not least of all the management of the data. Moreover, with advances in connection methods, battery life, and cloud infrastructures the insights we’re able to take from all of this collected data are enhanced, just as the time to realization is shortened. In fact, much of the intelligence wearable devices feed back can now be achieved in real time thereby strengthening the advantages. Without the cloud, wearables may be relegated to the awkward corner, requiring far more user interaction and administration than most are willing to give, but as the cloud makes wearable communication a smooth, sleek, and autonomous procedure, so too does is provide the added profit of connection to social media networks for even more personal and insightful gains.
Wearable Tech & Mobile Computing
According to researchers and infographic discovered via the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wearable tech could be heading in the direction of a ‘wearable personal cloud.’ With the latest in embedded sensors advancing smart clothing, nodes would be able to communicate effectively with smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets, and UAB researchers suggest that small computers, perhaps ten cheap and petite Raspberry Pis, embedded within a smart jacket would mean mobile devices could do away with complex and powerful processes as, instead, they become “dumb terminal devices” connected to the smart jacket mainframe. Says Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer and information sciences in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, “Once you have turned everything else into a ‘dumb device,’ the wearable cloud becomes the smart one. The application paradigm becomes much more simple and brings everything together. Instead of individual solutions, now you have everything as a composite solution.”
The wearable personal cloud proposed by Hasan and his colleague, Rasib Khan, is a step ahead of smart clothing in that the system model can be extended to items outside of the clothing set. It’s proposed that these devices could be linked together into a shared cloud which would provide invaluable information in emergency and disaster situations. Suggests Hasan, “With seven to ten people wearing such a cloud together, they create what we call a hypercloud, a much more powerful engine. The jacket can also act as a micro or picocell tower. All of its capabilities can be shared on a private network with other devices via WiFi or Bluetooth. If a first responder is out in the field and doesn’t have complete information to act on a mission, but someone else does, it can be shared and updated through the cloud in real time.” Additional benefits of this wearable personal cloud come into play with monitoring and maintaining patient health status in hospitals, and furthermore, personal data could be retained within the wearable jacket, thus providing better data security and privacy.
Today, the idea of a wearable personal cloud is drawing attention, but with such rapid progress it’s hard to imagine what the next few years will bring. Some experts believe wearables will in fact morph into ‘implantables’ in the not too distant future, and it’s possible that much of the work put into today’s wearable tech will be supplanted with the future’s implantable tech. For now, most of us are more comfortable being able to take off our smart devices as we choose, and innovators still have a way to go before the general public agrees to build technology into themselves.
By Jennifer Klostermann