Turn-by-turn Smart Glasses Give You Direction

[SamsonMarch] designs electronic products by day and — apparently — does it in his spare time, too. His latest is a pair of really cool shades that give him turn-by-turn directions as he walks around town. Unlike some smart glasses, these get around the difficult problem of building a heads-up display by using a very simple interface based on colored LEDs visible to your peripheral vision in the temples of the frames.

The glasses themselves look great; designed in Fusion 360 and cut out of wood, no one would give them a second glance. [Sam] says you could 3D print them, too, but we think the wood looks best even if the stock is a cheap bamboo cutting board. He also cut the lenses out of acrylic.

The slots in the temples are where the action is, though. An iPhone app takes input and talks to Apple services to get directions. A lot of thought went into making the app work even though the phone keeps trying to put it to sleep. Each PCB hosts an RGB LED for indicating left/right turn and destination. They talk to the app using BLE and include accelerometers which put the boards — powered by coin cells — into sleep mode when no movement is detected.

Overall a fun and good looking project. There are even covers to hide the boards during normal use. The files you need to reproduce it are on GitHub. Usually, when we see smart glasses, they have some sort of screen which is harder to do. Of course, it is impossible to avoid comparisons to Google Glass.

View post on imgur.com

22 thoughts on “Turn-by-turn Smart Glasses Give You Direction

  1. first I was ‘Oh – Cool project’ then it just continued to get bigger and bigger.
    then: DA14531 – crazy part! small package and BLE… what’s not to like here?
    and then: is that a FLEX PCB?? whaaaat?

    and swift? I’ve been wanting to do that direction thing on a car HUD for years! I better get going…

    1. It’s sad this is considered a ‘wow’ when these intelligent young people can make a captioning display for ‘deaf’ I mean, we have maps already? Their are over 80 million Hard of Hearing and Deaf just in the USA. The technology is in place, just scattered around. We NEED a Light Bulb Moment and Walk on the wild side. Personally, their Bar is Way To Low. ✌️

      1. Well, you could keep complaining on other people’s projects that they aren’t using their time and energy in the way you would like and see how far it gets you. Or you could start the project you want to see yourself.

        1. I’m not complaining. It’s just amazing these highly intelligent people are making glasses with maps. I mean we have about 50 of these already. Why not help people with serious needs? Why not ‘liberate’ people. This is so 1970 stuff???I would start this tomorrow if I could find the talent, I have the $$ Anyways, I’m not fussing, just frustrated with all this talent and them setting a bar so low and making products half the world is doing the same? I can buy glasses that does the exact same 2 years ago? Someone will have a meaningful Light Bulb moment. Enjoy that bike ride until then. For back up take your phone or smart watch, promise, you won’t get lost. ✌️

    1. Hi there, creator here! It was Circuitstudio by Altium. It’s basically a slightly stripped down version of Altium Designer. Cost $500 for a license, but it’s a one time buy, not subscription fee.

      I work in Altium at work, so this was a perfect fit for me! I also do enough side projects that it was worth the cost.

      1. Great project Sam! I was wondering how you attached battery to connector is on this? It looks like the flex PCB uses adhesive to make the contact on the opposite side of the coin cell, or was it somehow soldered after being folded?

    1. As someone with a horrendously bad sense of direction, I hope you’ll never have to understand that struggle. It can actually be somewhat “crippling” at times, it’s not fun. A classic example that has happened many times is “walk around in a new town, walk into a shop, walk back out and have absolutely no clue which direction you came from” so you just start walking and hope you recognise something to pick up your own trail (and that’s if you actually find your way back to the same entrance if it’s a big store, and no, I’m not kidding it has happened more than once).

      1. I myself is kind of a nerd when it comes to reading maps… I don’t even use a GPS when driving, haven’t done it once, and will probably never do. I can look at a map before hand though.

        I though generally navigate based on subdividing a larger area into sections.
        Be it a country, city, district, or neighborhood, or just a building, at times even seconds there within.

        If these subdivisions are following some city planner’s naming/zoning convention is frankly not important.

        Though, the main issues I have found with people I know that aren’t good at navigating is the following:

        1. They use far to small landmarks to remember, or large movable ones. Landmarks should be large stationary things. Ie, a building, a billboard, bridge, tower, sculptures, or other things one can reasonably expect to be both visible from afar and stay in place. (ie, a person sitting on a bench isn’t a good landmark, nor is a pretty flower, or a truck, even a large ship can disappear in half an hour, ie better remember the port itself.)

        2. Trying to remember their actual steps. Just don’t, most people can’t easily remember the order of 7 random letters. Good luck remembering the last 10-200 turns one made, in order, and the distances there in-between.

        3. And a lot of people that are bad at navigating tend to use navigational aids like a GPS giving them turn by turn instructions, even for relatively trivial journeys, instead of giving their brain some much needed exercise.

        4. They are absentminded and doesn’t even consider where they even walk to begin with…

  2. I like this, but like the vibration motors on belt design from years ago (that showed north, it predated modern smartphones iirc) this is all vaguely redundant when you consider wireless earphones and turn by turn navigation…

    1. Yeah, you’re right, he never should have posted it. I mean, it’s not like you would be able to learn from it or take inspiration unless you can re-create it exactly by copy pasting everything he did. Why couldn’t he have used exactly the same tools that I use? So inconsiderate of him to not consider that before starting this personal project of his.

  3. These glasses would be great for navigation on a motorcycle a guess, they just give the minimum amount of information needed and you can keep your eyes on the road all the time. If you start selling the electronics on Tindie, give me a shout,

  4. I’m interested to know how effective the colour indicators are as I remember back in high school science being taught that our peripheral vision is primarily black and white. I guess your brain is filling in the blank from the small amount of coloured light reflecting off the back of the frame?

    1. To be fair here.
      The frame of these glasses are in the peripheral vision if you look straight ahead.

      The field of view provided by the macula in the eye provides only about 18 degrees field of view. (And not even all this field of view is practically good for that matter…)

      The macula is where the cone cells have their highest concentration, these are responsible for color vision. But the amount of photoreceptors in the macula is also higher than the rest of the retina, so it also provides a fair bit of resolution. There is though cone cells all over the retina, just with far far lower concentration, good enough to identify that there is something there and what color that something mainly consists of.

      So seeing the splash of color on the frames is most likely rather easy.

      Also, to put into perspective of how small a human’s field of high res vision is. It is about the same as the area of both one’s thumbs when keeping one’s arms fully outstretched. (And that is honestly an overestimate for most people…)

      In the end, the brain does fill in an amazing amount of detail.

  5. Shame there’s an additional cost of $99 for an Apple developer license to make use of this. Even then the app would only work for a limited period of time. Does Apple have to be that much of a control freak to stop inidividuals from running their own code without going through the app store? I guess they do.

  6. > I’m not complaining.
    > I’m not fussing

    But you are though…? 🤔 And not even just a little bit, but both of your comments in their entirety.

    Feel free to hire somebody to build your idea, but write a better advert than this. Nobody wants to partner with a moaner.

Leave a Reply to Alex Cancel reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.