Wearable PC to hit shops by Christmas

Consumers will be able to buy a lightweight device, complete with a head-mounted video display, that will allow them to surf on the move

Hitachi is planning to launch a wearable computer by the end of this year.

The Japanese consumer electronics group has teamed up with Xybernaut, which specialises in developing wearable technology. The two companies are committed to creating a mass-market version of Xybernaut's Wearable Internet Appliance (WIA), which will hit US shops before Christmas.

The device, which will retail at around $2,000 (£1,400), consists of a head-mounted video display (800x600) connected to a processing unit that will weigh about 300g. This unit, which will run Windows CE, will contain 32MB RAM and include a CompactFlash slot.

Hitachi and Xybernaut predict that users of the WIA will be able to watch videos, play games and communicate over the Web. It will also include mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to carry out interactive banking.

Hitachi senior executive Shigeru Matsuoka, who described Xybernaut as "the leader in wearable computing", said he expected the product to be a commercial success. "We expect that our new product line will completely change the way people live, work and play. The applications we envision will offer up all kinds of new business opportunities," he said.

Wearable computing has gained increased attention in recent years. Earlier this year one company announced details of wearable cameras and laptops, and a digital music player that could be concealed under a shirt sleeve when not in use.

Other prototypes demonstrated recently include a jacket with a built-in PC. However, such devices are still far from reaching the shops, so Hitachi's tie-in with Xybernaut is an important development. There's no indication of a launch date for Europe, but Xybernaut insists that it expects to see the market for wearable computers growing rapidly on a worldwide basis.

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