Hackaday Prize Entry: Wearable Robotics Toolkit

The Internet overflows with prosthetics projects, and to a large extent this is somewhat understandable. Prosthetic devices are ultimately a custom made for each user, and 3D printers are trying to find a purpose. Put two and two together, and you’re going to get a few plastic limbs.

The electronics required for advanced prosthetics are a bit harder than a 3D scanner and a printer. If you’re designing a robotic leg, you will need to pump several hundred watts through an actuator to move a human forward. For the last few years, [Jean-François Duval] has been working on this problem at the MIT Media Lab Biomechatronics group and has come up with his entry for the Hackaday Prize. It’s a motor and motor control system for wearable robotics that addresses the problems no other project has thought of yet.

The goal of the FlexSEA isn’t to build prosthetics and wearable robotics – the goal is to build the electronics that drive these wearables. This means doing everything from driving motors, regulating power consumption, running control loops, and communicating with sensors. To accomplish this, [Jean-François] is using the BeagleBone Black, a Cypress PSoC, and an STM32F4, all very capable bits of hardware.

So far, [Jean-François] has documented the hardware and the software for the current controller, and has a few demo videos of his hardware in action. You can check that out below.

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The Raspberry Pi Wearable Revolution

With the human URL [will.i.am] serving as Chief Creative Director of 3D Systems, and [Martha Stewart] selling her own line of 3D printer filament through MakerBot, more and more celebrities are piling onto the hacker, maker, and DIY revolution. Now, the partnership we’ve all been waiting for: the Raspberry Pi Foundation and [The Artist Formerly Known As Prince_logo] are teaming up to produce a line of Pi-based wearable electronics. The first product from this new, fashionable line of electronics is beyond anything you would expect. It’s called the Raspberry Beret, and it’s shaping up to be a Revolution in wearables.

The wearable Raspberry Beret is exactly what you would expect: a habadasher’s masterpiece that pairs equally well with figure skating costumes and skin-tight cloud print suits. Inside, though, is a new piece of hardware based on the Raspberry Pi compute module. This module includes a Bluetooth module that will sync with any Windows phone. The Raspberry Beret also includes enough sensors that will blow away everything from a Fitbit to the new Apple Watch. The Raspberet will keep track of your heart rate, activity, and exercise routine.

The Raspberry Beret is just the beginning; the Pi Foundation and [The Artist Formerly Known As Prince_logo] are also teaming up with OSH Park to produce a limited, special edition Raspberry Pi 2. This board will be clad in the beautiful OSH Park purple soldermask and sports 4GB of eMMC Flash. This Flash will not be usable; instead it will contain a remastered edition of Purple Rain that will play as a startup chime. There will be no option to skip the chime.

Pancakes.

Self-Charging Jacket Eliminates Forgetfulness

Certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere are very, very cold right now. For those of us living in these colder climates, [Aaron] has a simple yet effective hack for keeping your hands warm when you go out for a walk in the brisk cold. He’s wired his jacket up for USB charging so he can make sure his hand warmers are always working.

[Aaron] bought a set of handwarmers that conveniently charge over USB, but he always forgot to actually plug them in once he got home, ensuring that they were always dead. To make his forgetfulness a non-issue, he built the USB charger for the handwarmers into his jacket, but he didn’t just run a wire out of the pocket. The USB charging circuit runs through the coat hanger, using some conductive cloth and steel thread in the inside of the jacket’s shoulders. From there, the cloth makes contact with the metal arms of the hanger and runs out of the hanger to the wall outlet.

This is a great cold-weather hack that might help any forgetful people on the north side of the planet keep warm. You could even use this method to charge batteries used in other wearable electronics. This project is a great reminder that sometimes the best hacks are the simple ones that no one’s thought of yet!

Laugh Track Jacket is Actually a Blazer

Picture it: your first open mic night at Larry’s Laugh Lounge. You’re up second in the lineup. It’s better than going first, but the crowd is far from hitting the two-drink minimum and your dad jokes are going over like a lead balloon. What now? Time for your secret weapon. You throw out the ‘tough crowd’ line while casually reaching into a pocket of your herringbone blazer. You press a button and the sound of crickets reaches the microphone. Someone chortles near the back. You smile, and remembering that Barbie joke from Reddit, your act takes a turn for the profane and the sweet sound of your first real laugh is forever burned in your memory.

This laugh track jacket from Adafruit’s [Becky Stern] is based on their own audio FX board, a standalone unit that can store and play WAV and OGG files. The board is also available with 16MB of flash for extended pre-recorded Foley artistry. This is an easy solder-and-sew project with a lot of wearable applications, and all of the components are available in the Adafruit store. There are plenty of places to get free sound effects that are already in WAV format, as the board does not support MP3s. As always, [Becky] has provided a clear and thorough guide with plenty of pictures and an introduction video that you can see after the break.

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Prototype LED Light Suit runs off of a NES Power Glove

[Greg’s] been playing around with wearable hacks for quite some time now, and he’s decided to add a new twist for his latest LED light suit (Mk 4) — An ancient NES Power Glove to control it.

He was inspired by the band Hypercrush who had a music video where one of the guys was wearing a laser-shooting power glove — awesome. Having already made light suits before, he thought it’d be fun to do something similar.

The suit is controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini which has been hacked into the Power Glove for ultimate button pushing capabilities. He’s using 5 meter LED strips of the classic WS2812  RGB variety, which allow for individual LEDs to be addressed using a single pin. It’s powered by a 5V 2A USB battery pack, and he’s made all the components very modular, you could even say it’s “plug and play”!

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Hacked e-cigarette vaporizer can send smells…in space!

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This 3D printed scent distributor was put together by eight people from three states during the 2014 NYC NASA Space Apps Challenge. The team went on to take 1st place in the competition.

The project is called Senti8 and uses a FLORA Arduino micro-controller and a Neopixel LED strip purchased from Adafruit. A smartphone mobile app then remotely connects to the device allowing the user to choose which scent they would like to send to their friend, who is also wearing one of the wristbands.

They came up with the idea by simply asking an American astronaut named [Doug Wheelock] what he missed the most while travelling through the boundless reaches of outer space. To their surprise, he said that the thing he missed the most was his sense of smell.

Originally, the project was envisioned to be a wearable technology for space tourism. But over time, the project morphed into a wristband that would allow people to remember places or planets visited. Even memories unique to those places through scent could be experimented with.

One of the team members, [Brooks], was spotted wearing the Senti8 at the Wearable Tech LA conference in Pasadena, CA on July 17, 2014. The LED lights lining the outside could be seen all the way across the large auditorium as she chatted up with local Crashspace members as they prepared to present their design-oriented hacks to the public.

She gave an interview demoing the wristband which can be seen in the video posted below:

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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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