Homemade Smart Glasses shows why Smart Glasses are Hard

[Harris Shallcross] decided to build a pair of smart glasses and recently completed a first prototype of his project ‘Ochi’ – an STM32 based, BLE-connected, OLED eyeglass display. There are of course several homebrew smart glasses projects out there; many are more polished-looking and nearly all of them also display information from a smartphone over Bluetooth. This one is interesting partly because it highlights many of the design challenges that smart glasses and other near-eye displays face. It also demonstrates the iterative development process: begin by getting something working to learn what does and doesn’t cut it at a basic level, and don’t optimize prematurely; let the process bring problems to the surface.

Ochi-1 Smart Glasses BBC feed SquareFor his project, [Harris Shallcross] used a small 0.95″ diagonal 96×64 color OLED as the display. The lens is from a knockoff Google Cardboard headset, and is held in a 3D printed piece that slides along a wire rail to adjust focus. The display uses a custom font and is driven by an STM32 microcontroller on a small custom PCB, with an HM11 BLE module to receive data wirelessly. Power is provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a boost converter. An Android app handles sending small packets of data over Bluetooth for display. The prototype software handles display of time and date, calendar, BBC news feed, or weather information.

Devices like these have a lot to deal with. Weight and distribution of that weight is a concern, the size and comfort of the optics is important, and displaying data on a small OLED is only part of the battle – choosing what information to display and when are vital to the device being actually useful in any way, otherwise it’s just a tech demo.

This project set out to show whether it was possible to use the parts listed to make a glasses mounted smart display that was at least somewhat functional, and the software to support it. Clearly, [Harris Shallcross] succeeded at that, but what really showcases the development process is his list of improvements – what he decided needs to go into a second version, and why. One of those goals is to improve the optics; perhaps there’s something to learn from The $60 Bluetooth Head Mounted Display project, which used a similar OLED and a prism to locate the display off to the side instead of in front.

A Better Google Glass For $60 (This One Folds)

glassFor [Tony]’s entry for The Hackaday Prize, he’s doing something we’ve all seen before – a head mounted display, connected to a Bluetooth module, displaying information from a smartphone. What we haven’t seen before is a cheap version of this tech, and a version of Google Glass that folds – you know, like every other pair of glasses on the planet – edges this project over from ‘interesting’ to ‘nearly practical’.

For the display, [Tony] is using a 0.96″ OLED connected to an Arduino Nano. This screen is directed into the wearer’s eye with a series of optics that, along with every other part of the frame, was 3D printed on a Solidoodle 2. The frame itself not only folds along the temples, but also along the bridge, making this HMD surprisingly compact when folded up.

Everything displayed on this head mounted display is controlled by  either an Android phone or a Bluetooth connection to a desktop. Using relatively simple display means [Tony] is limited to text and extremely simple graphics, but this is more than enough for some very interesting applications; reading SMS messages and checking email is easy, and doesn’t overpower the ‘duino.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

DIY oculus rift VR

For those that absolultely can’t wait to get to experience the Oculus Rift, you can follow these plans to build your own.

MTBS3D forum user [Rfurlan] pledged in the oculus rift kickstarter (which concluded last night), but simply couldn’t wait till November/December to get his developer kit. That, and he’s probably only getting one, and who can live with only one? Since [Palmer], the creator of the oculus rift has been very open about parts, [Rfurlan] was able to compile build instructions for your very own Oculus Rift! Keep in mind though, this is only the immersive display, not the tracking component. It is also, possibly not exactly the same as the oculus, but rather the same as a recent prototype.

At one point he was having issues finding the correct lenses and [Palmer] jumped in to make some suggestions to keep things going. That’s the kind of enthusiasm that we love to see from an innovator, even when he’s in the middle of a kickstarted for the very item that [Rfurlan] is creating. This is a testament to the VR community.

Lets take a look at what makes this thing tick, and why it is such a big deal.

Continue reading “DIY oculus rift VR”

The Simulacrum, an innovative solution to walking in Virtual Reality

If you’ve been following along with immersive gaming, even casually, you’ve probably considered the difficulty in trying to do a comfortable and believable “walk” in a game. The first thing that usually pops into peoples minds are Omni Directional Treadmills, or ODTs. There are many problems with these, one of the biggest simply being cost. They’re very expensive.

[Zalo] at the MTBS3d forums has been working on his own very cost effective solution called the “Simulacrum”. He has built this for under $100 and it allows for a walking motion to be translated into the game. As you can see in the video below it works fairly well, even when one is out of commission for repairs (hence the limp).

Continue reading “The Simulacrum, an innovative solution to walking in Virtual Reality”

Stylin’ HMD

Watch out, these sunglasses are actually a head mounted display. [Staffan] says he’s wanted dataglasses since ’95, but whats currently out there makes the user look ridiculous, and we have to agree. While his forum posts are a little lacking in detail, he’s promised us more info soon. And for now lets us know at least the resolution, well sort of: Its either 480×1280 or 480x427x3, you can be the judge. Update: [Staffan] has clarified “The resolution is 480*1280 true pixels. It is accomplished by spanning the screen across two Kopin CyberDisplay VGA modules.”

Regardless, [Staffan] is looking for help perfecting the glasses, with what in particular we’re not sure, but the project looks promising and we hope he keeps up the good work.

HMD upgrade

[Banfield Design] has put together this instructable on how to upgrade or re build a head mounted display to be more immersive and add features.  Though you can already buy glasses style viewers for your media devices, they can use some upgrades. For one, you have to supply your own sound, and putting headphones on, over bulky glasses can be painful on your ears. Another area that could use improvement is the light that comes in around the glasses. The current trend is to make them as small as possible, but that tends to let your peripheral vision see the outside world. [Banfield design] wanted to make them more immersive, so he built them into some ski goggles. This not only helped block the light, but allowed for an over the ear style headphone assembly which is much easier on the ears.

A functional improvement came next, by adding a webcam front and center. He could now switch between a live feed of his environment and whatever other inputs he wanted. This could be really fun with some augmented reality. He has a list of future improvements, but he doesn’t mention adding a second camera for stereoscopic viewing of his surroundings. Why would you do that? because it would make augmented reality much cooler.

CES: Augmented Reality

I got my hands on a set of augmented reality glasses that were displayed with a Monkey-Ball style game. This wasnt anything too new as far as the augmented reality goes, however the glasses that were used with the game featured stereo cameras on the center of the outside of the lens, which allowed a true 3D augmented vision that you wouldn’t have to stare into a screen for. These glasses were still in the demo stage, but if they ever make it out into retail, I think that they would be exactly what could bridge AR from a fun toy to a useful tool. Another review video after the break.

Continue reading “CES: Augmented Reality”