Georgia Tech Launches Wearable Computing Center

Researchers have been studying wearable computing for 20 years. Experts in the areas of computer science, electrical engineering, augmented reality, psychology and even fashion have worked together to build and test applications and invent technologies. Potential users of wearable computing have been involved, too, helping to discover how to apply wearable computing concepts to the "real world." The technology's potential reaches many areas - manufacturing, health and wellness, architecture and public safety and entertainment, just to name a few.

Despite many advances, the average consumer does not have access to wearable devices and applications. Historically, the technology has often been expensive, fragile, or both. Consumers also weren't ready to embrace wearable computing. Now, with the rise of more durable, cost-effective devices, coupled with the recent explosion of mobile devices and head-mounted displays from companies such as Google and Oculus, the stage has been set for the emergence of wearable computing for consumers. There's still more work to be done, though, to make the transition from the research lab into our everyday lives. That's where Georgia Tech comes in.

GT has taken advantage of the interest in wearable computing by launching the Wearable Computing Center. The goal of the center is to bring together world-class wearable computing researchers for meaningful collaborations. "Our goal is to provide a structure that supports the significant interdisciplinary research that is needed to tackle the grand challenges in wearable computing," said Center Director Maribeth Gandy.

Members also have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a new computing paradigm by joining the Industry Partners Program. Members will meet quarterly to discuss topics relevant to the wearable computing industry such as policy concerns, market research and tech developments. Other benefits include:

  • Annual Open House - The consortium will hold an annual open house every November. Events will include workshops, hands-on tutorials for developers, and a special wearable industry day.

  • Technical Consulting - Members of the consortium have the ability to access an interdisciplinary group of research scientists who will provide technical consulting to help guide a company's internal wearable projects. A portion of the membership fee is used as a retainer to cover researcher’s time. (WATCH: Georgia Tech Researcher Rob Solomon demonstrates how the Google Glass app, Captioning on Glass, works.)

  • Collaborative Projects - The consortium may operate as a vehicle for collaborative projects among members.

  • Impact Industry Standards - The consortium will develop standards for wearable devices. Interoperability and protocol standards will be necessary to achieve interoperable wearable devices.

  • Networking Opportunities - Quarterly meetings and the annual open house will provide networking opportunities to consortium members.

  • User Testing - Members may engage consortium researchers to perform user testing of their internally developed devices.

"The program helps companies understand the potential of wearable computing by keeping them abreast of the past, present, and future of wearable technology, policy, and applications," said Gandy. "We will work with them to identify how wearable technologies can be applied to their business and help their organization gain the expertise needed to make these ideas a reality."

Support levels for the Industry Partners Program are designed to attract both small and large companies. Contact Maribeth Gandy at maribeth@imtc.gatech.edu or Peter Presti at peter.presti@imtc.gatech.edu for more information.