Essential Gadgets Image Gallery
Essential Gadgets Image Gallery

By the end of the decade, we could be wearing our computers instead of sitting in front of them. See more pictures of essential gadgets.

Photo courtesy IBM

Jewelry is worn for many reasons -- for aesthetics, to impress others, or as a symbol of affiliation or commitment. Basically, jewelry adorns the body, and has very little practical purpose. However, researchers are looking to change the way we think about the beads and bobbles we wear. In the next wave of mobile computing devices, our jewelry might double as our cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and GPS receivers.

The combination of shrinking computer devices and increasing computer power has allowed several companies to begin producing fashion jewelry with embedded intelligence. Today, manufacturers can place millions of transistors on a microchip, which can be used to make small devices that store tons of digital data. Researchers have already created an array of digital-jewelry prototypes. "We've made one of almost everything except tongue rings," says Dan Russell, senior manager of IBM's Almaden Research Lab, where IBM is developing digital-jewelry technology.

Russell says that digital jewelry is the beginning of the disintegration of the personal computer into tiny pieces. In this edition of How Stuff WILL Work, you will get a look at these new microdevices that could soon be adorning your body, and see how they will make daily communication and computing even more ubiquitous.