Wearable computing to defeat terrorism

Honk if you believe in miracles

Wearable-computing hypemeisters Xybernaut are at it again, this time persuading former Virginia Governor James Gilmore to serve as pitch man for the company's ambition to equip US officials and law enforcement officers with wearable devices to root out terrorists.

Gilmore made an appearance at the seventh annual International Conference on Wearable Computing (ICWC), which is part of the COMDEX Chicago trade show. Xybernaut apparently is paying for the ICWC bit as a prime marketing vehicle.

Quoting the Xybernaut press release: "Wearable computing may play a major role in homeland security and the fight against terrorism, and could help boost the global economy, James S. Gilmore III, chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Weapons of Mass Destruction and Domestic Response, stated here today." [my emphasis]

"According to Gilmore, wearable computers are currently providing real
world examples of how technology can be leveraged as part of the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign to ensure homeland security." [my emphasis]

The company likes to work in a few weasel words whenever it communicates to current and potential investors in this manner, but hopes you'll read over them and imagine that some commercial breakthrough is just around the corner.

Thus we hear breathless announcements about missions to Mars relying heavily on Xybernaut gear, when in fact all that's happening is that a few lunatics are going to freeze their asses off in the Canadian tundra and see how the kit holds up.

This is the same Xybernaut that sued an online critic, Dan Whatley, in absentia and won a judgment of $450,000. Whatley made a few disparaging remarks on a BBS, and was blindsided by the company's legal beagles.

We also find the company backing away from a PCWorld story, which it had originally linked on its Web site, where someone told a reporter quite untruthfully that Xybernaut kit was scheduled to be used in airport security within three months' time.

As it turns out, "there were no contracts and that [] discussion with PCWorld.com had focused only on 'ideal applications' for the device, not planned deployments." Too bad the reporter wasn't let in on the secret.

And now we've got homeland defence enhanced with robocops scurrying about (on Ginger?) and communing intimately with the Great Database via sensors in their shorts and displays on their Ray Bans.

Of course we see this sort of thing all the time in the movies, which helps make it appear more plausible when a former governor stands up in front of an auditorium full of Star Trek weenies and pitches pie-in-the-sky gizmos as legitimate anti-terror tools.

Perhaps Xybernaut investors should persuade the company to shift over to doing Hollywood special effects, where their toys will be a hit, and where the market is a good deal more reliable than missions to Mars. ®

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