Significance and Impact of the Research: This research at Georgia Tech has led to a groundbreaking contribution with enormous implications: The creation of a wearable information infrastructure that has opened up entirely new frontiers in personalized information processing, healthcare and telemedicine, and space exploration, to name a few. Until now, it has not been possible to create a personal information processor that was customizable, wearable and comfortable; neither has there been a garment that could be used for unobtrusive monitoring of the vital signs of humans on earth or space such as temperature, heart rate, etc.
Specifically, the Wearable Motherboard technology will have a significant impact on these key facets of human endeavor and will lead to the following:
1. Personalized Information Processing: A revolutionary new way to customize information processing devices to "fit" the wearer by selecting and plugging in (or removing) chips/sensors from the Wearable Motherboard (garment).
2. Healthcare and Telemedicine: Monitoring and treatment of humans including those in post-operative recovery (e.g., heart surgery); geriatric patients (especially for those in remote areas where the doctor/patient ratio is very small compared to urban areas); mentally ill patients for a better understanding of diseases such as chronic depression; children susceptible to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome); and individuals prone to allergic reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis reaction from bee stings).
3. Space Exploration and Specialized Monitoring Applications: Monitoring of astronauts in space in an unobtrusive manner and the knowledge to be gained from medical experiments in space that will lead to new discoveries and the advancement of the understanding of space. Likewise, the monitoring of firefighters, policemen and soldiers who encounter major threats in their lines of duty will significantly enhance their job safety and performance.
4. Spawning of a New Industry: Just as the home security industry is a big business that monitors and protects homes, the Wearable Motherboard technology has the potential to spawn a new industry for the reliable and effective monitoring of patients at home and thereby transform home healthcare delivery.
In short, the new paradigm spawned by the Wearable Motherboard provides an exciting opportunity that can not only lead to a rich body of new knowledge but in doing so, enhance the quality of human life. The potential impact of this research on medicine was further reinforced in a Special Issue of LIFE Magazine "Medical Miracles for the Next Millennium" in which the Smart Shirt or Wearable Motherboard was featured as one of the "21 Breakthroughs that Could Change Your Life in the 21st Century".
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