Richard DeVaul, a PhD. scientist from MIT with a focus on building wearable technologies, was snared from Apple this month by Google. At Apple he was rumored to be working with SVP of Industrial Design, Jonny Ive in Apple’s secret labs building the next big thing.
Besides his having knowledge of the inter-workings of Apple, it is also interesting that DeVaul is a hardware person who has focused on building wearable products for the past decade. Google has been a software company for all of its existence, but more and more it appears that it will enter the hardware business…but probably in smart accessories rather than phones.
He’ll likely join two former Danger hardware experts in a new Google lab called Google Hardware where his Job Description of “Rapid idea evaluation and prototyping for new projects at Google. ” seems to fit in with Joel Britt and Matt Hershenson are doing.
I wrote about DeVaul’s transition to Apple at Computerworld 18 months ago, excerpted below:
DeVaul has a background in wearable technologies as you can see from his personal homepage, as well as a PhD. inMedia Arts & Sciences from MIT. At MIT, he worked on new human-computer interaction techniques for wearable, mobile, and portable applications.
His dissertation was on “The Memory Glasses“, a heads-up display focused on the problems associated with wearable memory support technology. This included hardware and software architectures, and low-attention human-computer interaction for wearable computing, including the use of subliminal visual cues for just-in-time memory support.
He summarizes this project:
The short version is that I can improve your performance on a memory recall task by a factor of about 63% without distracting you, in fact without you being aware that I’m doing anything at all. Even more interesting is that giving you wrong information subliminally doesn’t seem to mess you up.
DeVaul was a founding organizer and leader of the MIThril wearable computing project, which developed a distributed, clothing- integrated wearable computing research platform.
After MIT, he founded AWare Technologies. He describes his work there as:
We began in early 2004 as a contract research company providing customized high-performance personnel monitoring for the US Army, DARPA, and Olympic sport organizations. Since 2006 the company has refocused to deliver effective behavior-change solutions for increasing fitness. We also have one of the most popular health-and-fitness iPhone apps, StepTrakLite. (Rich’s CV)
In 2005, he was granted a patent for Distributed multi-nodal voice/data communication:
The invention comprises systems and methods of creating and maintaining a communications network. It includes a wearable system, a deployable system, an array of physiological sensors, an array of environmental sensors, and the integration of these into a multi-nodal voice and data communication system. The primary communications network is composed of body-worn communications nodes comprising sensors, wearable audio/video communications gear, and wireless digital transceivers. The deployable system supports and extends the body-worn network by providing wider communications coverage, situational environmental monitoring, and navigational aid. The deployable system is composed of small, self-contained, robust network nodes. Each such node combines environmental sensors, a digital wireless “repeater,” and a navigational beacon capability integrated in a hardened, robust package. Nodes are carried by team members and deployed when needed to extend the range of the communications or sensor network.