It might be not long before you start wearing a computer just as you put on your shoes, watch and jacket.
"As general computing systems become smaller, we are reaching a point at which it becomes conceivable to don these devices easily," Andy Fagg of the computer science faculty at the University of Massachusetts has been quoted by online ScienceDaily as saying.
Fagg, who is developing a wearable computer, said such a device offers access to information and communication resources at any time during walking hours.
"It isn't about being able to write a paper or send an e-mail while you are grocery store. It's about having digital assistance as you go about your life," he added.
Fagg's aim, ScienceDaily said, is to teach the computer to "notice" a user's routines and offer information accordingly.
For instance, if the computer notices that he enters a conference room at a particular time, "it should figure out he is going to a meeting and pull out appropriate documents, including minutes of the last meeting, and notes from related discussions.
Another example offered by him: "I could tell the system I'm going to be cooking a certain recipe for dinner. The system will know what I have in the kitchen cabinets at home. If I drive near the grocery store, it wakes up and whispers, 'Don't forget to stop at the grocery store, and by the way, you need these three items for the dinner you want to cook tonight.'"
One current challenge, Fagg said, is teaching the computer to interrupt him - politely. "The machine should present information at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate way. I don't care what I need at the grocery store if I'm sitting in my office," he pointed out.
"Nor do I want it to convey information visually while I'm driving the car, although it's okay for it to occasionally whisper in my ear."
It is possible to make wearable computers because microprocessors are getting smaller every year, Fagg was quoted as saying. Commercial wearable systems are already available, he says, although they are aimed at very specific industrial markets.
"The systems are becoming more stable and more comfortable," Fagg said. "Ultimately, a lot of the bulk will be gone."
ScienceDaily said while some might see a wearable computer as a bit of a pest, Fagg sees it differently: "The machine doesn't nag you after the fact, when you've gotten home and forgotten to buy a gallon of milk. It reminds you to pick up the milk when you're still in a position to solve the problem."