Monday, 16 July 2007

Visit to the Wearable Computing Lab at ETH Zurich

I was at ETH Zurich for the PhD defence of Nagendra Bhargava Bharatula. His thesis is on context-aware wearable nodes and in particular on the trade-offs in design and the design space of these devices.

The tour in Prof. Tröster’s lab was very impressive. It is a very active and probably one of the largest groups world wide doing research in wearable computing. It seams that wearable computing is getting more real, many scenarios and demonstrators are much more realistic and useful than several years ago.

In the backmanager project Corinne Mattmann works on a shirt that measures body posture. Using stretch sensors made of elastic threads, which are fixed with silicon to the fabric they can measure several different body postures. The material is really interesting (probably done by http://www.empa.ch/) and I think such technologies will open up many new opportunities. (further reading: Design Concept of Clothing Recognizing Back Postures; C. Mattmann, G. Tröster; Proc. 3rd IEEE-EMBS International Summer School and Symposium on Medical Devices and Biosensors (ISSS-MDBS 2006), Boston, September 4-6, 2006)

The SEAT project (Smart tEchnologies for stress free Air Travel) looks into integration of sensing into a airplane seat set-up. Having seats is a real set-up allows easy testing of ideas and realistic testing in early phases of the project. This setup made me think again more about an automotive setup in my next lab.