By BBC Science Correspondent, Sue Nelson
October 29, 1998
It could be the perfect answer for people who would like a
computer, but do not have the desk space.
IBM has developed a portable personal computer that is as
powerful as a laptop yet light enough to be worn on a belt.
The Wearable PC is far removed from conventional machines.
It does not need a keyboard or a TV monitor and it uses the
smallest hard disc drive in the world.
As for size, it is not much larger than an English pound
The world's first modern computer may have been called Baby
but it was the size of a large nursery. More than 50 years
later computers are more powerful and much smaller.
Weighing only 10 ounces, the Wearable PC is connected to a
headset with a small perspex block at the end of a spectacle
This is the miniature liquid crystal display computer
screen. It is positioned in front of an eye but a
combination of optics and mirrors produces a virtual image
of a 17 inch screen about 25 inches away.
A hand-held switch then doubles as a mouse to select screen
icons and a microphone for voice-activated software.
An innovative new microdrive provides the processing power
and the PC is capable of storing 340 megabytes in a device
the size of a 50 pence piece - that is more information than
can be stored on 236 floppy discs.
Bob Tomalski from Computer Video Magazine says: "With
miniaturisation of the computer comes a miniaturisation of
"So in future you'll have products which will be able to do
very much more because at their heart there is a
microcomputer, not just a microchip, but a complete
computer, complete with memory, storage and control."
There are six working prototypes - all designed and built by
IBM in Japan.
The wearable PC could be used as a hands-free manual by
technicians, and will hit the high street in around two
years, when people can start reading their e-mails on the
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