This thesis presents the use of wearable computers for aiding human communication over a distance, focusing on interaction aspects that need to be resolved in order to realize this goal. As wearable computers by definition are highly mobile, always on, and always accessible, the ability to communicate becomes independent of place, time and situation. This also imposes new requirements on the user interface of the wearable computer, calling for natural and unobtrusive interaction with the user.One of the key challenges in wearable computing today is to streamline the user’s interaction, so that it is tailored for the situation at hand. A user interface that takes too much effort to use, interrupts or requires more than a minimum of attention, will inevitably hamper the user’s ability to perform tasks in real life. At the same time, human communication involves both effort, interruptions and paying attention, so the key is to find a balance where wearable computers can aid human communication without being intrusive. To design user interfaces supporting this, we need to know what roles different aspects of interaction have in the field of wearable computing. In this thesis, the use of wearable computing for aiding human communication is explored around three aspects of interaction.The first aspect deals with how information can be conveyed by the wearable computer user, allowing a user to retrieve advice and guidance from experts, and remote persons to share experiences over a distance. The thesis presents findings of using wearable computing for sharing knowledge and experience, both for informal exchange among work colleagues, as well as enabling more efficient communication among health-care personnel. The second aspect is based on findings from these trials and concerns how the wearable computer interacts with the user. As the user performs tasks in the real world, it is important to determine how different methods of notifying the user affects her attention and performance, in order to design interfaces that are efficient yet pleasant to use. The thesis presents user studies examining the impact of different methods of interruption, and provides guidelines for how to make notifications less intrusive. The third and final aspect considers how the user’s physical interaction with the wearable computer can be improved. The thesis presents rapid prototyping of systems employing user centric design. Furthermore, a framework for ubiquitousmultimedia communication is presented, enabling wearable computers to be dynamically configurable and utilize resources in the environment to supplement the user’s equipment.All in all, the thesis presents how wearable communications systems can be developed and deployed, how their human-computer interaction should be designed for unobtrusive operation, and how they can come to practical use in real world situations.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2006. , 155 p.