Smart Wearables for Real and Virtual Environments

  Last updated October 16, 2017 at 2:23 pm

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Author: Annabel Mansfield



Using an emergent technology called layer jamming, researchers in UniSA’s Wearable Computer Laboratory are exploring computer-controlled wearable items that will exponentially change the way we consider and control movement in both real and virtual environments.


Plucking a virtual apple from a tree, PhD student Tim Simon (supervised by Dr Ross Smith) simulates the haptic capabilities of their smart-wearable mitten in a virtual environment. Photo by David Solm.

Plucking a virtual apple from a tree, PhD student Tim Simon (supervised by Dr Ross Smith) simulates the haptic capabilities of their smart-wearable mitten in a virtual environment. Photo by David Solm.





Smart wearables intend to vastly improve tactical experiences across multiple applications – from computer gaming to injury rehabilitation.


The current prototype is a wearable mitten, which generates real-time sense-of-touch (haptic) feedback—much like the vibration of a mobile phone notification—by enabling vacuumed bladders in layers of the mitten to create stiffness that restricts or enable movement.


The mitten delivers tactile feedback that lets users feel virtual objects. For example, a gamer popping the cork from a virtual champagne bottle will sense the grip, resistance and sudden release of the cork.


Smart wearables also provide significant benefits for health, including injury rehabilitation, and remote health monitoring. Limbs can be easily immobilised and rehabilitated, with medical staff being able to remotely and accurately adjust and monitor the exact degree of immobilisation as the injury heals.


For people who suffer from tremors, smart wearables can offer stiff exoskeleton support for limbs and joints to improve the functionality of everyday activities such as brushing your teeth or holding cutlery. And unlike restrictive braces, the supports relax once the task is completed, giving the user flexibility.


Connect with Wearable Computer Lab wearables.unisa.edu.au











About the Author

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The University of South Australia is Australia’s University of Enterprise. Our culture of innovation is anchored around global and national links to academic, research and industry partners. Our graduates are the new urban professionals, global citizens at ease with the world and ready to create and respond to change. Our research is inventive and adventurous and we create new knowledge that is central to global economic and social prosperity.


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