News: Would you wear a cloud jacket?
Cloud is most definitely in fashion when it comes to business tech, but researchers are currently exploring ways in which to literally embed cloud into fashion.
US Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are looking into developing a fully functioning, lightweight cloud computing system embedded into clothing – meaning a wearable personal cloud could soon become the ultimate accessory.
Rajib Hasan, assistant professor of computer and information sciences in the UAB college of Arts and Sciences, and Rasib Khan, a recent postdoctoral graduate student, presented their wearable cloud jacket at the 40th institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society International Conference on Computers, Softwares and Applications (IEEE COMPSAC) in June.
The prototype uses 10 Raspberry Pi credit-card sized computers, an old winter jacket, three power banks and a small remote touch screen display. The wearable system is billed as the ultimate smart device, bringing all mobile computing solutions together. The cloud jacket could result in a shift away from users solely relying on mobile hardware, allowing users to tap into the resources of the wearable cloud via a lightweight, simple and inexpensive solution.
The cloud jacket beats smartphones when it comes to RAM, with the prototype boasting roughly 10 gigabytes as opposed to a smartphones one to tyhree gigabytes. Mobile devices are today powered by powerful processors, with more expensive processors and technology continually being rolled out in order to keep up with the explosion of applications and consumer demands.
In addition to this, many mobile applications are also powered by cloud servers in order to make up resource limitations – so what the cloud jacket does is removes the need for expensive processors by turning mobile devices into ‘dumb terminal devices’, or controllers, with the computational task sent to the wearable private cloud.
One of the two researchers, Rajib Hasan said to Science Daily; “Currently if you want to have a smart watch, smartphone, an exercise tracker and smart glasses, you have to buy individual expensive devices that aren't working together. Why not have computational platforms with you that can support many forms of mobile and wearable devices? Then all of these capabilities can become really inexpensive.”
"Our overall approach is to create a generic atmosphere or platform that users can customize to fit their needs," Khan said. "The wearable cloud can act as an application platform, so instead of modifying or having to upgrade hardware, this wearable model provides a platform, and developers can build anything on top of it."
The wearable cloud concept differs from existing ‘smart clothing’ solutions in that they only act as input devices. The wearable personal cloud could extend past a jacket, with the researchers saying that it could be applied to a briefcase, purse of backpack. The researchers also have hopes for the wearbale to be used in a variety of ways, from the battlefield to healthcare.
"Another potential application area that we are looking into is hospital gowns," Hasan said. "When a patient comes in, they are connected to monitors to obtain heart rate, blood pressure and other vitals. Whenever a patient has to go to the restroom or needs to be moved around, they have to take everything off or maneuver around with a large pole carrying all of the connected devices. Instead, we are putting sensors inside a vest that can be placed over the hospital gown itself. There will be a small version of the wearable cloud within the vest so that the vest itself can collect information, like a patient's temperature."