This section outlines briefly the historical context leading up to WearComp6 which is the version presented in this paper. WearComp6 is a modular wearable computer design. See also a separate paper by this section name: http://n1nlf-1.eecg.toronto.edu/historical/
Name When completed Processor Text,Graphics Where on body WearComp0 1970s electromech. --- back WearComp1 1970s SSI, MSI ATV RS170 back+waist+shoulder WearComp2 1981 6502 40x12,280x,NTSC back+waist+shoulder WearComp3 early 1980s 8085 7segment displays waist+chest WearComp4 late 1980s 80286 80x24,640x480 ordinary backpack WearComp5 early 1990s 80486/33 80x24,640x480 large waistbag WearComp6 early 1990s PC104,80x86 80x24,640x480 medium waistbag WearComp7 mid/late 1990s TMS320C3x/4x RS170 underwearableIt is debatable whether WearComp0 or WearComp1 were really computers, as they were specifically designed for control of experimental body-worn lighting equipment and the like, and thus certainly not ``general-purpose'' computers. WearComp2 was the first system that could be regarded as a general-purpose computer, as it could execute a general instruction set, and even had a BASIC interpreter, making it easy to write programs to edit ASCII text files, or exchange messages (e.g. ``email'' of sorts), do floating-point calculations, and other things that one might regard as falling in the domain of general-purpose computing. WearComp2 was the predecessor of many of today's wearable computers (e.g. wearable computer with display over one eye).
WearComp3 was much less capable than WearComp2, but at the same time, the WearComp3 effort emphasized small size and better integrating the unit into clothing to some degree. This was accomplished by an early attempt to make the unit more like clothing than like a backpack. The efforts of Eleveld and Mann, to make wearable technology both comfortable and fashionable, began in 1982. This marked a bifurication in designs, toward some that were clothing-based. There were also many hybrids (smart clothing with ``lumpy'' add-ons).
Furthermore, WearComp3 marked the beginning of the use of the chest area as a display space that others could see. This design choice arose out of the fact that WearComp3 put more emphasis on computer-supported collaborative living than on the more individual spirit upon which WearComp2 was designed.