Heads-up display mounts on brim of your cap

[Matt Kwan] says that coming up with a personal heads-up display wasn’t that hard. Well that’s because he made design choices that make all the difference.

The goal here was to add some augmented reality to his field of vision. He went with a baseball cap because it’s a pretty easy way to strap something to your head. You can’t see it from this angle, but the setup requires you to cut a rather large hole in brim. The image from a smartphone (HTC Desire Z in this case) which is situated with the screen pointing toward [Matt's] forehead. The screen reflects off of a small mirror, guiding the image down through a Fresnel lens mounted in the hole of the brim. The image is reflected a second time by the plastic in front of his eyes which is coated with a slightly mirrored material. Since the image is reflected twice it appears right-side up, and the use of the Fresnel lens places the image out about 20 cm in front of his view. He tried to get some images of the effect, but we think you’ve got to see it in person before passing judgement.

This does away with the need to track head movement (there’s a few hacks for that out there though). Augmented reality software is used to turn the view from the smartphone camera into overlay data for the display.

[Thanks Tom]

Aquarium water exchanger built from Keurig parts

We keep seeing commercials for those Keurig coffee makers that use a plastic pod of grounds to brew just one cup of coffee. We’re pretty sure this is a fad, and absolutely sure that the extra packaging created by brewing with this method is a waste. But to each his own. [Danman1453] has two of the devices. One he bought, the other is a warranty replacement. He decided to scrap the malfunctioning unit and see if he could put it to good use. What he ended up with is the aquarium pumping system you see above.

It is conceived as tidier way to swap out the water in the fish tank. He had been using tubing to siphon the water, but found he almost always made a mess. This system uses an air pump to prime the water pump by pressurizing the tank which forces water into the lines. Once the water pump is primed he switches over to that for the rest of the work. He used an old metal tool box as an enclosure, using the cover to mount the push-buttons which route power to various components when pressed. Many of the parts were transplants from the coffee maker, but even if you sourced all of the components new this wouldn’t cost too much to put together.

Dead HDD smartphone stand still holds secret data

We’ve actually got a few dead hard drives collecting dust so when we hear about a project that finds a use for one we perk up a bit. But we were somewhat disappointed when we discovered this was a smartphone stand, pen holder, and LED lamp in one. We just don’t have a use for this kind of triple-tasker. But wait… the dead drive has a secret. It still serves as data storage, if you know how to enabling the drive within.

As you can seen, [Samimiy] removed all the guts of the HDD, repurposing the platters and mounting brackets as the phone holder, and mounting plate for a couple handfuls of LEDs. The lamp portion can be adjusted thanks to the articulated based from a small desk lamp he had in his parts bin. The device receives power from the USB connector you can see in the upper right. That’s where the first part of the secret comes in. This isn’t just supplying power, it provides a USB connection to the thumb drive hidden inside the HDD case. But just connecting it to your computer won’t mount it. [Samimy] took the light sensor from an automatic nightlight and set it up below the pen holder. If you shine a flashlight down the hole in that piece of wood it will routed power to the secret USB drive causing it to enumerate on your system. Pretty clever! Take a look at his build video after the break.

We wonder if there’s a way to incorporate this light-based lock system into that mouse-mounted thumb drive.

[Read more...]

Robotic assist helps paraplegic stand and move around

Seeing this device help a man get up out of his wheelchair makes us wonder why this hasn’t been around for ages. The design principles behind the Tek RMD greatly benefit those without use of their legs. But it’s not just to help him stand, it also serves as motorized transport that makes bulky electric wheelchairs look so last century.

Instead of having the support structure beneath the rider, the RMD (Robotic Mobilization Device) uses a sling-like method to hang from the hinged arm. A folding handlebar can be raised up, allowing the rider to move from sitting to standing with a bit of help from the machine. Whether upright or sitting, the device can travel using its electric motors. In fact, this tip was sent in because it looks very much like riding a Segway.

The video demonstration after the break really hits home the functionality provided. This is an instant quality of life improvement, breaking down some of the barriers of moving around in confined quarters with a motorized wheelchair. There is also a lot to be said for having the option to stand. The demo shows several circumstances like shopping at the market, going through the checkout, and grilling out. What an amazing use of technology.

[Read more...]

Doppler-effect lets you add gestures to your computer

What if you could add gesture recognition to your computer without making any hardware changes? This research project seeks to use computer microphone and speakers to recognize hand gestures. Audio is played over the speakers, with the input from the microphone processed to detect Doppler shift. In this way it can detect your hand movements (or movement of any object that reflects sound).

The sound output is in a range of 22-80 kHz which is not audible to our ears. It does make us wonder if widespread use of this will drive the pet population crazy, or reroute migration paths of wildlife, but that’s research for another day. The system can even be used while audible sounds are also being played, so you don’t lose the ability to listen to music or watch video.

The screen above shows the raw output of the application. But in the video after the break you can see some possible uses. It works for scrolling pages, double-clicking (or double-tapping as it were), and there’s a function that detects the user walking away from the computer and locks the screen automatically.

[Sidhant Gupta] is the researcher who put the video together. In addition to this project (called SoundWave) he’s got several other interesting alternative-input projects on his research page. [Read more...]

The Pirate Bay aims for the clouds…literally

tpb

There is no shortage of government and entertainment-related agencies chomping at the bit to shut down the Pirate Bay for good. While the group has not suffered a permanent service ending raid like [Kim Dotcom] and the Megaupload crew, they are always thinking up novel ways to ensure that the site can endure whatever law enforcement throws at them.

In a recent blog post, representatives from the group unveiled plans to put their front line servers in the clouds, courtesy of custom-made autonomous drones called “Low Orbit Server Stations.” The project is in its infancy, but the general idea is to mount small computers like the Raspberry Pi on GPS-controlled drones kept aloft 24×7 (presumably) using solar energy. These drones would communicate with clients on the ground via radio transmitters which they state can provide a “100Mbps node up to 50km away”.

Calling the claims grandiose would be an understatement, but then again the Pirate Bay has proven to be a difficult organization to quash in any substantial way, so only time will tell.

[via The Daily What - Thanks, roboman2444]

Noise Reduction Techniques for Your Shop-Vac

shop vac noise-reduction setup

Shop-Vacs are great tools, but they do have the notable disadvantage of being loud.  Fortunately, much of the noise emanates from the exhaust, and with a muffler or “silencer”, this can be controlled. The results of my noise-recustion experiments were noticeable, reducing the noise by roughly 5.6 decibels. This may not sound like a huge improvement, but since the scale is logarithmic the sound intensity is actually cut by roughly two-thirds, according to this calculator.

As for how to actually make the muffler, I’ve outlined everything in this post.  As of now, the Shop-Vac muffler is used in a static configuration, but with some changes it could be used on a mobile vacuum.  The disadvantage of this reduction in noise is a slight reduction in suction, but it seems to be an acceptable trade-off in this situation – used for a little CNC router with this adapter.

For a video of the Shop-Vac in action with the CNC router in question, check out the video after the break.  Note that this is pre-silencer, so you can definitely hear the vacuum noise! [Read more...]

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