Richard W. DeVaul

MIT Media Lab Wearable Computing Researcher
Toshiba Fellow Ph.D. Candidate, Human Design (the group formerly known as Perceptual Computing)
Alumnus of the Aesthetics and Computation Group


I am a full-time wearable computing researcher, working on context-aware wearable computing applications and platform issues. MIThril is my primary project right now, and developing a Memory Glasses prototype application using the MIThril framework.

There are many reasons why a general-purpose, context-aware personal wearable computer makes sense. Here are only a few:

  1. There is the "gadget creep" problem, which is that the number of specialized consumer devices (cell phones, PDAs, "smart-cards," etc.) are growing rapidly, but that the space in our pockets and on our belts remains constant.
  2. Wireless communications applications are exploding, but it makes as little sense to have multiple incompatible digital wireless network interfaces on your body as having a separate physical network card for each networked application on your desktop computer.
  3. Context aware applications are becoming increasingly feasible and desirable, but duplicating context sensors and signal processing hardware makes even less sense than redundant wireless network interfaces.
  4. A general purpose wearable allows the user to consolidate the most important and personal information about themselves, to use that information effectively, and to maintain control over that information without relying on trusted third parties or non-portable infrastructure. General-purpose wearable computing consolidates your personal information and helps preserve your privacy.
  5. General-purpose wearable computing, if done correctly, allows the user to coordinate and manage the demands on time and attention of all of her digital applications, which if they are packaged separately and function independently becomes a much harder problem.


MIThril is the Media Lab's next-generation wearables research platform. MIThril is light, ergonomic, flexible, scalable, and truly wearable. MIThril is intended for context-aware HCI research and a wide variety of general-purpose wearable computing research applications For more information on MIThril, see the MIThril homepage.

MIT + IDEO Design Study

I participated in a design study with IDEO to explore the "human side" of wearable computing. The result is one take on what a consumer wearable might be like, focusing on the needs of two very different hypothetical wearable users. Here are the results. Note: This is a design-study only; please don't send me email asking where to buy these, I've had dozens of requests already...

The Ektara Architecture

The Ektara architecture is an old proposal for a functional architecture for building real, multi-application context-aware wearable and ubiquitous computing systems. The architecture follows from a critical feature analysis of existing context-aware wearable/ubiquitous applications and systems. The ideas ar good but the underlying platform, Hive, has somewhat evaporated. You can read a technical report describing this architecture is available here in gzip compressed postscript and pdf.

Research Goals and Long-term Projects

Here is a somewhat fragmentary list of some of the projects I'm currently working on. This list is updated only occasionally, and is generally incomplete.

Current Research Projects


An outdated, incomplete list of Publications and technical reports.

Relevant Links

Irrelevant Links

Previous Work

Other Projects

last updated $Date: 2001/05/16 09:57:28 $