We've been hearing about wearable computers—intelligent devices integrated into typical clothing—for a few years now. Hitachi Ltd. and Xybernaut Corp. hope to bring these devices to a retail store near you before the holiday shopping crunch at a price that many tech-savvy consumers will be able to afford.
Using a license for Xybernaut's broad patents for wearable computing and communications, Hitachi has developed the Wearable Internet Appliance (see the figure). It includes the superscale Hitachi 32-bit, 128-MHz RISC processor and companion processor. Weighing just 10.9 oz, it in-corporates a Compact Flash slot, a USB port, 32 Mbytes of RAM, and a removable internal rechargeable battery.
The WIA runs Windows CE 3.0. It provides users with instant on/off Internet access, which they can enjoy through an SVGA (800 by 600) head-mount display for a desktop-like viewing experience. Potential services for consumers include distance learning, music, video, gaming, GPS location, cell phone communications, paging, interactive banking, shopping, and stock market transactions. Professional applications are expected as well.
"The applications we envision will offer up all kinds of new business opportunities," said Shigeru Matsuoka, CEO of Net-PDA Venture Co., Hitachi Ltd.
Xybernaut should begin shipping the WIA to the U.S. by Christmas. Depending on the WIA's configuration, pricing should be under $2000. For more details, go to www.xybernaut.com or http://global.hitachi.com.