Elegant wearable computer

[Jason Statham] [Martin Magnusson] wrote in to tell us about his adventure in building a wearable computer. The device in its current state is a Beagleboard running Angstrom Linux tethered to an iPhone for internet. A bluetooth keyboard allows for input, while output is displayed on monocle-ized Myvu. And last but not least, the entire setup is powered by 4 AA batteries for 3 hours of life.

Its not as small as some of the wearable computers we’ve seen before, but if you wanted to whip out your own it sure takes a lot less soldering.

Comments

  1. Vonskippy says:

    Do you actually know what the word “elegant” means?

  2. Erik Johnson says:

    @Vonskippy I know it doesn’t mean having an obvious protrusion on your face obstructing your vision.

    Other than that misrepresentation, I like how he powers it through the USB hub first, then the board and periph.’s just draw from there

  3. kirov says:

    and then you go blind by age 30

  4. xorpunk says:

    @kirov: I don’t think they researched why this display technology failed in the 90s ^^. It just looks cool. He’s suppose to be a wealthy A.I. researcher according to his blog..

  5. Mikey says:

    I agree with @Vonskippy, this looks anything BUT elegant.

  6. Ferdinand says:

    Nice setup so far, but a diode in series with the battery? You have to be kidding me. At least buy a MintyBoost – or, even better, build a switchmode power supply yourself. It’s not that hard, try a MC34063 for instance.

    -Ferdinand

  7. Mikey says:

    @Vonskippy, I agree this looks anything BUT elegant.

  8. Mikey says:

    Dunno why my comments are getting eaten, but for the last time:

    “@Vonskippy, I totally agree, this is anything BUT elegant.”

  9. Jody says:

    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  10. xeracy says:

    I took apart a pair of videoglasses i got on woot and there is a board between the two lensed video screens. it is easy enough to dis connect, but i dont see where he would have stashed that bit of hardware in the monacle…

  11. Arrangemonk says:

    since iphone jailbreaking is legal, why not make an ap to use the iphone as keyboard /input too?

  12. Alex says:

    Electronic birth control…

  13. ChalkBored says:

    Or use the phone for everything, and not have to carry a purse around.

  14. jsngrimm says:

    ok, its not that elegant looking, but you can run Ubuntu from sd card on those beagleboards! full wearable desktop pc

  15. steeve says:

    This dude will so not get laid… But he can watch pr0n from the internetz on his goggles

  16. Squirrel says:

    @vonskippy – elegance – a quality of neatness and ingenious simplicity in the solution of a problem

    So elegant looking? No
    Elegant design? I’d say yes (especially like what Erik J said about it being powered solely through the USB hub)

  17. D_ says:

    The best I learned from this article is the existence of the beagleboard, this is the first I seen of it. I need to investigate it a bit further yet. At first glance it would seem to be better to put that $150 towards a netbook, for my desires.

  18. zool says:

    why does that guy look pissed off?

    maybe he was reading the comments on HAD :D

  19. xeracy says:

    @Arrangemonk & ChalkBored: “I’m trying to replace the iPhone with a general purpose computer. After some research I discovered the beagleboard”

  20. zerth says:

    @D_

    Definitely look at the new MX version of the beagleboard: double the MIPs and quadruple the RAM for just $30 more.

    But definitely consider how you would be using it. A netbook already has a battery, charging system, input and display done. The beagle is just the base.

  21. McAWK says:

    (Lol at everyone’s reaction to ‘elegant’),

    oooooooh, how far we have fallen!

    Granted this is just a test/mockup thing at this stage, but I think it is pretty neat.

  22. john says:

    borg fail

  23. Alex says:

    Not one mention of being a gargoyle?

  24. Gilbert Wham says:

    @alex: They don’t know what you mean. Anyway, if he was, his shirt would be magnolia like the wall…

  25. roswellaliens says:

    maybe encase the myvu display module in black powder paint-doped shapelock? would look a lot neater and prevent any damage to the fragile connectors as well as being removable if something does go wrong.

    on the flip side, has anyone managed to drive one of these displays from a micro yet? i had a look a little while back and to get it to initialise isn’t too hard (record and play back the init signals) then just drive it with the appropriate RGB+sync digital signals.

  26. bothersaidpooh says:

    interestingly the aspire one aoa150 motherboards frequently break with BIOS and/or power connector problems, both of which can easily be fixed.

    The video out port can be “kludged” using a 2404 e2prom soldered to the relevant pins on the back of the VGA connector so the output is “always on”.
    to obtain the code find a broken lcd monitor with one of these and salvage the chip then copy code onto spare chip(s) from old motherboards or graphics cards.

    rumour has it that you can simulate TV-Out on the A1 by hacking the description code in this chip to specify a compatible sync range.

  27. turn.self.off says:

    i could have sworn i recently read about either vuzix or myvu presenting a product that allowed one to look away from the screen without taking the glasses of entirely.

  28. strider_mt2k says:

    So, uh…what do you use it for, other that looking like someone who is in need of human companionship?

    Is it for finding human companionship?

    -because if you lose the hardware and the sour puss you might get somewhere with that.

  29. Pouncer says:

    I want to be able to promote/vote Alex’s comment!

  30. Patrick says:

    To everyone hating on the eye-piece: What would you suggest? A big harness around your shoulders that holds a flat panel in front of your head?

    El-e-gant -(adj.): gracefully concise and simple

    Looks more graceful and simple than any other design I’ve seen.

  31. mowcius says:

    Well I dunno what site everyone else thinks they are on but I love this!

    This is just the kind of thing I like to see appear in my RSS feed :)

  32. Greycode says:

    I got to go with strider_mt2k on this, the mad scientist runway model look is kind of “ghey.” He has a picture of him without the hardware and in the exact same pose. Almost kind of looks like the henchman to “Le Chiffre.”

    And to what I would suggest would be a full blown Myvu, or whatever company that you would like the style of the current glasses. They have managed to hide the monitor a little bit better. At the very least, go for symmetry and put one on the other side, even if it is a dummy. That will slightly minimize the “Evil mad runway model scientist henchman with a monocle” look. Because that look is going to get you killed by Bond even if you are not a henchman. Probably because Bond is going to assume that anyone who looks like that is up to no good anyways.

  33. steeve says:
  34. ali1234 says:

    @bothersaidpooh it’s true that the AAO can output a PAL signal on the VGA port but it is still RGB and not composite – unless you have a TV with SCART on it. You need to hack the driver to reduce the minimum pixel clock and use a custom X modeline and an adapter cable like this:

    http://www.nexusuk.org/projects/vga2scart/

    This trick can be done with most video cards available today since they are all generic enough to produce all kinds of whacky out-of-spec signals.

    Also I think the guy looks more like John Malkovich.

  35. Vonskippy says:

    I think he should grow one of those teeny tiny goatees – that would rock his evil henchman look.

  36. Erik J says:

    You are all narrow minded he will RUULE THE WORLD. Seriously those are cool glasses.

  37. steeve says:

    Yep, definetly cool. I mean at least if you also like to wear pink stockings…

  38. hunnter says:

    What i would prefer to see is the eyepiece on the inside of the eye so as not to obstruct the lower-right section of my eyesight.
    But considering the size of the eyepiece, it might not be that possible really, or allow for that much of a visibility increase.

    Other than that, pretty damn good.
    Especially the running times.
    With a buffer and the batteries being made in to packs, you could make 2 battery packs and just swap them for roughly 6 hours on the go without powering down. (or more if you spend a lot of time out)

  39. OjM says:

    I made a similar set a year ago. It even has the plexi on beagleboard. Also mine has the display inside the sunglasses to look less like a borg.

    See my articles (blog) here:

    http://www.linux.com/community/profile?userid=669

  40. OjM says:

    Meh, this works better as a blog page than my profile page. Linux.com is still a bit hard to navigate…

    http://www.linux.com/community/blogs/blogger/OjM/

  41. OjM says:

    “And to what I would suggest would be a full blown Myvu, or whatever company that you would like the style of the current glasses.”

    As a wearable computer, monocular is the only way to go. Wanna get hit by a car? Also, I tried the thing before breaking it. It’s darn heavy and sucks in so many ways… I only bought it because of the displays were cheaper to pry from it, than it would have been to buy the display from manufacturer.

    PS. I shaved my goatee today.

    “They have managed to hide the monitor a little bit better.”

    Have you SEEN the Myvu Crystal? I’d rather go out with display like this than the Crystal… Really, it’s only intended as something to watch your movies from when you are on the plane or something, it’s NOT good to use when you are walking, running, working…

    “At the very least, go for symmetry and put one on the other side, even if it is a dummy.”

    You do not want to have anything over the other eye… Understand? The users to dead users ratio is more important here than the coolness factor.

    “That will slightly minimize the “Evil mad runway model scientist henchman with a monocle” look. Because that look is going to get you killed by Bond even if you are not a henchman.”

    Wearable computer is all about not getting in your way, and actually help when doing other things. That’s not possible with both eyes looking on the monitor all the time. If you are going to have to put the glasses on to see the cake recept every 2 minutes, you are better off with a tablet on fridge. One of the advantages of wearable is that they can be always on, always ready to use and not needing to put the stupid display away.

    “Probably because Bond is going to assume that anyone who looks like that is up to no good anyways.”

    I have only one thing to say to that. It’s the SuperVillain who got that kind of stuff: http://www.ubergeek.tv/article.php?pid=54

    Oh noes, I’ve got something else too, it could be a lot worse… http://igargoyle.com/archives/lol_mann.jpg

  42. OjM says:

    “What i would prefer to see is the eyepiece on the inside of the eye so as not to obstruct the lower-right section of my eyesight.
    But considering the size of the eyepiece, it might not be that possible really, or allow for that much of a visibility increase.”

    If you mean that the display should be inside of the glasses, that’s exactly what I have done on my blog above. It’s not optimal, but it’s usable and the display is hidden well. Should change the chord to old telephone cord to get the matrix-look. The sunglasses may look a bit odd being a bit further away from my face, but it must be a less odd than having it on front.

    I could also get the big optic piece off and use a small magnifying lense and stuff, that would make it a lot smaller as the display itself is pretty flat. A see-through display would also be not that hard to do, Don Papp has done it before and I’ll try it someday too.

  43. Divergent Reality says:

    Compared to other attempts at wearable computing, this is relatively elegant.

  44. OjM says:

    Definitely yes, but we have to remember that Steve Mann had a completely hidden system in 90’s.

    Check Wikipedia article for wearable computer for pic.

  45. joe says:

    why dont you get a notebook?

  46. OjM says:

    Because a wearable gives possibility to augmented senses, like nightvision for example… Or you could see someone stealing something from a shop, and say “computer record everything that happened in the last 5 minutes”.

    Could your notebook do that?

  47. LittleBit says:

    I think it looks kinda freaky, like a borg, but not fully assimilated. Yett an enhanced humanoid with access to the Collective’s resources. He’s probably using that eye thingy to watch me in the shower or something!

  48. bionicghost says:

    “computer record everything that happened in the last 5 minutes”

    You should say: computer, record now.
    Wearables still can’t take video of the past.

  49. zerth says:

    @bionicghost:

    I used to have a video camera that did that, continually storing the last few minutes in a buffer that dumped to disk when I hit record. Awesome when somebody jumped their cue.

  50. OjM says:

    @bionicghost

    Yeah, you just seem to lack some imagination. :)

    If one wanted, real-life adblocker would also be possible to do. Possibilities are endless…

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