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Overview of Wearable User Interface Devices

Wearable computing devices are basically miniature computational and sensory devices (Mann, 2013). They have a huge range of applications such as in medical sensors, seeing aids, augmented reality and behavior modeling. Generally, wearable device are small and designed in such a way that they mimic traditional wearable devices such as watches, glasses and hats. These devices form a section of mobile computing whose key feature is portability and efficiency. They possess an effective interface between the user and the computer. Similarly, they are designed with the aspect of being part and parcel of the user's conscious environment, and are thus incorporated into their everyday life.

Healthcare is one of the sectors where wearable electronic devices find extensive application. A collection of technologies may be used in conjunction with the specific device to perform tasks such as health state analysis and sending of automatic alerts. Lukowicz (2002) describes the AMON (Advanced Medical Monitoring) system as a collection of a user interface, communication subsystem, digital processing, and power management. Each of these l technologies plays a critical role despite its reduced size. According to Xiao-R (2014), wearable sensors come in handy in the early detection and management of cardiovascular diseases by use of fundamental technologies such as Miniaturization, Intelligence, Networking, Digitalization, and Standardization (MINDS). These are paramount to the success of miniature medical devices. Miniaturization ensures the size of the devices becomes as small as well as light. Additionally, the power consumed by such devices is reduced thus operation time is increased significantly. Intelligence facilitates automatic processing and appropriate actions without the involvement of persons. Networking enables communication so as to offer the health service within the appropriate time. Such services may be alerts or medical advisories. Furthermore, if the devices operate in a distributed system, the communication between components or nodes must be of high quality. Digitalization ensures that analogue data that is acquired from the sensor devices are processed appropriately and subsequently analyzed. Standardization ensures the compatibility of the various wearable devices.

Due to the nature of operation of wearable devices good communication between the gadgets is paramount. Communication between devices in close proximity is attained through application of Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is standardized technology that uses high frequency waves for communication. However it is only effective over relatively short distances. For communication of the devices to other entities such as the healthcare provider, communication may be through the internet, where a connection is made to the relevant servers for collection of data for analysis.

Additionally, information gathered from wearable devices needs to be analyzed. For example, wearable medical devices aim to facilitate a health monitoring system for patients and sending of alerts whenever possible. To do this, data is transacted between the devices and relevant authority. The long term and short term analysis of this data needs a Management Information System that is able to deduce trends and outcomes that are not directly apparent and advice appropriately. Generally, the MIS will receive the data after a transaction and begin analysis of the data. Therefore, the MIS is an important component of the overall system. In medical setting, it will be used to offer a diagnosis. This collection and relay of information for analysis to different management centers has fueled the popularity of the wearable user interface devices.


  1. Lukowicz, P., Anliker, U., Ward, J. & Tr¨oster, G. (2002) AMON: A Wearable Medical Computer for High Risk Patients Retrieved from
  2. Mann, S. (2013): Wearable Computing. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: TheInteraction Design Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.interaction
  3. Xiao-R., Jing, L., Ni, Z, & Yuan-Ting, Z. (2014). Cardiovascular Health Informatics: Wearable Medical Device and Flexible Biosensor for m-Health. Retrieved from