From Wearable to Bearable

"The Wearable Computing field has grown markedly since the early 1960s. One example of such tech from that era was a system designed specifically for roulette prediction by combining signals obtained from a tiny analogue computer with output from microswitches embedded in a player’s shoe. In the 1970’s, wearable computers continued this trend with inventor Alan Lewis constructing a digital camera-case computer that could predict roulette wheels. Fortunately, the field also expanded in this decade to include more altruistically oriented devices: in 1977, C.C. Colins from the Smith-Kettlewell Institute of Visual Sciences produced a prosthetic vest for the blind. This early wearable tech utilized a head-mounted camera to convert visuals into tactile imagery via a grid embedded in the vest, allowing a visually impaired wearer the ability to “see”.
Wearable Computing progress continued in the 1980s, with Steve Mann (who we’ll look at in detail later) creating a computer held in a metal-framed backpack – with an accompanying head-mounted camera – that controlled photographic equipment. In 1993, Thad Starner developed a customized general purpose computer, which was designed specifically to be reconfigurable. Thad has famously worn this device since the 90’s, with it being dubbed “The Lizzy” due to perceived parallels with the original Model-T Ford – originally the car was labelled the “Tin Lizzy”.
There’s been significant advancements in the field of Wearable Computing over the last two decades, including the development of smartwatches like IBM’s Linux Watch and the currently-kickstarted Strataby Metawatch which connects “…with phone apps to see calls, SMS, workouts, email, FB, Twitter, calendar events, weather & more”. Other wearable devices include exercise monitoring wearables such asJawbonePebble, and Fuelband, in addition to the Q-Belt “Buckle” Integrated Computer and Erik De Nijs’ keyboard input jeans." 

Copyright: Emotiv

Copyright: Emotiv

Note: Emotiv is an Australian company.

People interested in bearables not wearables should investigate uberveillance.

“‘Man-computer symbiosis’ is a subclass of man-machine systems.   There are many man-machine systems.  The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly and the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information handling systems.” -  J. Licklider, 1960, “Man-Computer Symbiosis”.

cited in Mez Breeze (2012).