My curiosity as a child evolved into that of an obsessional teenager with a focus on electronic systems and wearable technologies. It has served as the foundation for why I have been involved in the research, development and direct application of wearable technologies in the education, training and information communication technology context since 1982.
Throughout secondary school I invented, tested, manufactured and sold devices as stand alone creations or in combination with other systems ‘completed’ a circuit, resolved or performed a task that I could otherwise not perform without some electronic circuitry. My earliest recollections are disassembling cameras, electronic hand held games and using simple circuitry boards and building devices that could ‘automate’ the capture of photos. One such contraption, in 1983 I invented a a device with manual activation of a circuit using CB radio systems which digitally triggered and captured a photo using one of the first electronic shutter triggers I could purchase.
It was in fact a rudimentary CCTV camera and I recall taking it to the local high school on the weekend when the place was locked down and placing the camera in differing locations such as the third floor of E block and pointing it down into the adjacent courtyard, taking a photo of myself from an aerial perspective, triggered remotely by the CB radio, a selfie in fact. Another occasion I took the contraption for a ride on the roof of Michael McPherson’s LX Torana Hatchback taped down and took photos through Cronulla shopping centre before it was turned into a Boulevard.
I recall feeling in some strange way empowered by what I had invented and at the time feeling like a covert police officer in the car at that time even if there was no crime I was investigating!
As a teenager I carried around almost constantly a battery powered hand-held small transistor radio and whenever possible upgraded it to the very latest of features including a small hand held television in 1984, a silver Sony Watchman VHF UHF FD-20A Flat Black White Portable TV Silver complete with body carry case. I invited a wire brace that could be worn around the head that kept the television slightly above my field of view so that could be viewed hands free.
As a very early teenager enthralled by the Dick Smith electronic store which was two suburbs away and spent long periods of time in the high school art room perfecting my photography skills or inventing things. Two way radios, walkie talkies and the earliest of electronic handheld games that held memory of a username or a record of play seem to me the first of the wearable computing I engaged with. I even invented a car licence plate rotator that could swap a car license plate by flicking a switch inside the cab of a vehicle.
It was the transition from stand up pinball machines to sit down electronic arcade games during the early 1980’s that triggered me to delve deeper into electronic engineering, manual arts and psychics classes in senior school, including the formulation of gunpowder, electronic ignited rockets and eventually even electronic fired weapons such as a pipe cannon. The allure of connected systems, telephony, and transmission of data led me to testing facsimile machines for art work creations and convincing adults members of our community to make calls from the first touch button phones or play game with them suing the very first Atari game systems which were at the time bulky, connected to the television set and run on cartridges at great expense.
Growing up in a household that had not television drove me into the homes of others and I quickly learned ways in which to demonstrate my skills and interests in return for access. I recall in 1981 having a Nintendo ‘Donkey Kong’ handheld digital game with me at most times out of school, I also had a modified 1983 Gakken ’Kitchen Panic’ handheld game which I had removed LCD screen and wired to my wrist lining at the time to ‘becoming an electronic robot’.
So it seems my ‘inner geek’ had emerged very early on as a teenager and with that an avid interest in photography, optics, image capture and the power of that image in a socio-ethical context.