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Cadence Meter Proves Wearable Development Is All About Just Doing It

wearables-just-start-doing

 

The tech involved in the fitness world really empowers athletes, whether they’re serious or not, to improve their performance by providing empirical evidence. The Striker project focuses on cadence, which is the frequency of strides when running, or revolutions when pedaling. It uses a force sensitive resistor in the shoe to measure footfalls or power strokes.

The concept behind the device is solid, and there are consumer-grade devices already on the market that are capable of performing the same functions. In fact, a Garmin device is used to help measure the accuracy of the system. But we love to see bootstrapped projects, and this one distinguishes itself not only in finished product, but in the process itself. To us it screams: “What are you waiting for, build a prototype and then iterate!”.

The larger image above shows the earliest working version which is just a piece of fabric that wraps around the forearm to hold a 4-digit 7-segment display. The wire following the arm of the wearer snakes all the way down to the shoe to connect with the force sensor. The image to the right is the first wireless version of the readout. But the project has already seen at least two more versions after this one, mostly using SparkFun components.

We think this is but one example of the kind of stuff we want to see as contenders for The Hackaday Prize. The project uses Open Design and it’s arguably a connected device because the sensor and readout connect to each other (but ideally you’d want to add more connectivy to get at the data). The open nature of the build could lead to leaps forward in the technology by affording talented people wider development access.

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Roman Headgear Looks Less Silly With Lots of Blinky

centurion-project

Look, it’s not Steam-Punk because the period is way out of whack. And we’ve never seen ourselves as “that guy” at the party. But it would be pretty hard to develop The Centurion Project and not take the thing to every festive gathering you could possibly attend. This sound-reactive helm compels party-going in a toga-nouveau sort of way.

[Roman] tells us that it started as a movie prop. The first build step was to remove the plume from the top of it. The replacement — seven meters worth of addressable RGB LEDS — looks just enough like an epic mohawk to elicit visions of the punk rock show, with the reactive patterns to make it Daft. The unexpected comes with the FFT generated audio visualizations. They’re grounded on the top side of each of the LED strips. Most would call that upside-down but it ends up being the defining factor in this build. Seriously, watch the demo after the break and just try to make your case that this would have been better the other way around.

As a final note, this project was written using Cinder. It’s an Open Source C++ library that we don’t remember hearing about before.

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Eye Tracking With The Oculus Rift

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There’s a lot you can do with eye and gaze tracking, when it comes to interface design, so when [Diako] got his hands on an Oculus Rift, there was really only one thing to do.

Like a few other solutions for eye tracking we’ve seen, [Diako] is using a small camera with the IR filter removed to read the shape and location of an eye’s pupil to determine where the user is looking. This did require cutting a small hole near one of the Oculus’ eye cups, but the internal camera works great.

To get a window to the world, if it were, [Diako] slapped another camera onto the front of the Oculus. These two cameras are fed into the same computer, the gaze tracking is overlaid with the image from the front of the headset, and right away the user has a visual indication of where they’re looking.

Yes, using a computer to know where you’re looking may seem like a rather useless build, but stuff like this is used in research and extraordinarily high tech heads up displays. Although he’s not using the motion tracking on the Oculus, if [Diako] were to do so, he’d have the makings of one of the most powerful heads up displays possible.

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Simple Hack Creates an Inverted Watch Display

Before and after of a negative display watch conversion

Sometimes you have to bust out the wayback machine to find a good hack. Back in 2008, [Brian] performed this awesome negative display hack on his classic Casio G-Shock watch. The G-Shock, like most digital watches, uses a twisted nematic LCD. All Liquid Crystal Displays are made up of a layer cake of polarizers, glass, and liquid crystal. In non touchscreen displays, the top layer is a sheet of polarizing film glued down with an optical quality adhesive.

[Brian] disassembled his watch to reveal the LCD panel. Removing the glued down polarizing film can be a difficult task. Pull too hard and the thin glass layers will crack, rendering the display useless. After some patient work with an X-acto knife [Brian] was able to remove the film.

Much like the privacy monitor hack, the naked watch appeared to be off. Holding a sheet of linear polarizing film between the watch and the viewer reveals the time. If the film is rotated 90 degrees, the entire screen is color inverted. [Brian] liked the aesthetics of the inverted screen, so he glued down his polarizing film in the offset position. After reassembly, [Brian's] “customized” watch was ready to wear.

[Via Hacker News]

Super Shoes Lead The Way

Super shoe insole with a red sneaker

Many of us spend so much time looking down at our phones that we miss the world all around us. [Dhairya] hopes to change that with Super Shoes, a pair of enhanced insoles that let your toes do the navigating while you enjoy the sights. Each insole has a Bluetooth radio and a microcontroller. Three coin cell vibrator motors act as an output device under the small toes, while a capacitive touch pad under the big toe handles input. Careful positioning of the electronics keeps the foam insoles flexible.

Using the shoes is as simple as walking around. Say you needed walking directions. You would set the destination on your smartphone. The shoes would then tie in to your smartphone’s GPS and maps application. From there, it’s simply a matter of following your toes. If the toes on your left foot vibrate, turn left. Vibration on the right foot indicates a right turn. When your destination is at hand, both feet will vibrate rapidly to celebrate.

[Dhairya] envisions a cloud service called ShoeCentral which will store a database of the user’s likes and dislikes. Based upon this data, ShoeCentral will guide the user to new restaurants or places they may like. All of this and hands free? Where do we sign up?

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Blinky LED Necklace That Actually Looks Chic

LED bib necklace by Agy

[Agy] a fabric hacker in Singapore has made a chic light sensitive LED necklace, and written up the tutorial on her blog  Green Issues by Agy. The lovely thing about this hack is that it doesn’t look like a breadboard round her neck, and most of the non-electronic components have been upcycled. [Agy] even used Swarovski crystals as LED diffusers for extra bling.

Using a LilyPad Arduino with a light sensor and a few LEDs, [Agy's] circuit is not complicated. She seems to be just branching out in to wearable tech, so it is nice that she learnt to program different modes for bright and low light (see video below). Her background in sewing, refashioning and upcycling does show through in her crafty use of an old pair of jeans and lace scraps for this project.

We love tech focused jewelry like [TigerUp's] LED matrix pendants or [Armilar's] Nixie-ify Me Necklace, but they do scream Geek. DIY electronically enhanced accessories are becoming more commonplace with the variety of micro-controller platforms expanding rapidly. Low energy wearable boards like MetaWear are making it easy for the tech to be discreet and easily connected to your smartphone.  3D printing is enabling us to create durable enclosures, settings and diffusers like the ones used for LED Stegosaurus Spikes. With all these things, hobby wearable projects can not only be functional and durable, but can also look great too.

Do you think this necklace would look out of place in a non-geeky gathering? Have you got any helpful tips for [Agy's] code? Have you tried using gems or crystals as diffusers and what were the results? Let us know in the comments below.

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