Technical Discussions

Thoughts on Engineering & Technology

Mobile Phone Apparel

Today almost everyone, even in the third world has access to mobile phones. The latest trend is to pack a Media Player coupled with “assisted” GPS into your mobile phone. If you really are interested in how this works, you could read this article. Navigation assistance has become an added function to Mobile Phone/PIM/Media Player combos we are using.

The big question is, whether the increasing appeal and usage of mobile phones sometimes referred to as handphones is actually killing the telecom market for fixed desktop landline or wireless phones. Korea and Japan (NTT DoCoMo) started out with Video conferencing (albeit at very low quality) at least 3 years back after an almost failed trial 5 years back. There are no doubts as to the direction Japan and Korea are heading.

The new buzzword in the mobile world is 3G. This of course, is to signal the start of Triple Play on Mobile Phones. The strange part about mobile phones is that instead of subverting the entire POTS , they actually added value to the existing POTS networks. Some services were directed at lowering overseas or long distance calls, while others were starting to offer Business Solutions. As a contrasting reminder, Radio did not complement Telegraph, but replaced it instead. Telephony and Telephone networks replaced Telegraph, they did not complement it. So the advent of Mobile phone technology as a rider on existing telephony networks is one place they have shown difference.

While Mobile phones were becoming ubiquitous, there were strong concerns about health safety as mobile phones are all radio equipment used at close proximity. If you do compare them to the H.A.M. radios and earlier radios, the transceiver (antenna) and the voice/data encoder were not directly coupled in such a small case. Field Military Radios were also similarly designed. But putting them altogether, thanks to the benefits of high density integration, several health groups raised alarms. These continue to be serious as Microwave radiation does pose health hazards that have been researched.

Today most of the phones which offer high-end business user or multimedia user or combined services are bulky (irrespective of what the ads claim.) While clamshell designs, slider designs for phones are quite common today, they will most likely be replaced by equipment that can fit with the apparel we wear. Wearable computing was taking the concept of Personal computing to insane heights. Having a communicator embedded in our apparel would be a welcome initiative (provided we could turn it off.)

There have been some early trials. The first are easy to guess, they were wristwatches. The second set are wearable around the neck (like a necklace.) The third is to have a wearable exoskeleton. The huge drive is to make them lighter to carry, less easier to forget and increase their “personal” factor.

Mobile phones (as they are still referred to today) could be the first level of intrusion into the field of bio-cybernetics.


October 10, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Hardware | , , ,


  1. Hey cool , wearable exoskeleton , I like that main problem is the power source unless you have Iron man style portable nuclear reactpr fitted into your chest .

    Comment by andvark | October 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. Ideally a wearable personal information manager should be able to use body heat. De facto someone did put a mobile phone transceiver into a tooth [citation needed], but no one liked to have the phone “embedded.” This one depended on just heat and didn’t need an external source.

    The solution to powering wearable computing devices lies in the new generation biomedical “pacemakers” and other bio-embedded devices.

    The last part would be human comfort in using the actual device. Frankly I hate carrying a brick with me (however well shaped it might look like.) Make an iPhone, HTC Touch Diamond, Palm Treo, Blackberry; fundamentally they all boil down to extra stuff to carry.

    We have fingerprint recognition (I gain access to my office without an ID card or a key), card money (but I like to move to e-wallets) that are readily available. There are Audio headsets that can be embedded in the ear (you can buy them at astronomical prices.) I don’t carry electronic data, crypt keys which I have on a really small USB stick (I still would like to embed this somewhere.)

    I don’t want VR goggles or Jetpacks. I just want to wear apparel that contains all that is needed. No need to remember keys to my car, to my building, access to office.

    Embedding should make things both comfortable and energy efficient.

    Comment by gandalfgreyhelm | October 25, 2008 | Reply

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