Thad Starner, 29
Georgia Institute of Technology
These days, computers are everywhere. So far, they’ve kept their distance from our bodies, but what happens when computers become part of us, attached to our bodies like clothes or eyeglasses? That’s a question Thad Starner has been asking--in practice--since 1993, when he developed his first wearable computer system. Wearable computing, a hot field in which Starner is a pioneer, changes our relation to computers; they become part of the environment, feeding us information as we interact with people and objects. Starner has been wearing his device much of the time since 1993, modifying the system as he goes. He’s created an open hardware platform for wearables,
dubbed "Lizzy," and software to make the most out of a computer that is always on and in contact with the wearer. Starner "has that rare combination of skills in theory, innovation, and sheer drive to make him, in my mind, the quintessential researcher,” says John Makhoul, chief scientist at BBN Technologies.