What makes this build so special is its attention to detail. Into the Apple Watchcase has gone a Seiko movement, but it hasn’t merely been dropped into place. It uses the original Apple watch stem which is offset, so he’s had to create a linkage and a tiny pulley system to transfer the forces from one to the other. The rotor is custom-machined with am Apple logo, and the new watch face is a piece of laser-cut and heat treated zirconium. Even the watch movement itself needed a small modification to weaken the stem spring and allow the linkage to operate it.
The build is a long one with many steps, and we’re being honest when we say it would put our meager tiny machining skills to an extreme test. Sit down and take your time reading it, it really is a treat. Apple Watches may head to the tip after five years, but not this one!
There are many in the hacker community who would love to experiment with augmented reality (AR), but the hardware landscape isn’t exactly overflowing with options that align with our goals and priorities. Commercial offerings, from Google’s Glass to the Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap 2 are largely targeting medical and aerospace customers, and have price tags to match. On the hobbyist side of the budgetary spectrum we’re left with various headsets that let you slot in a standard smartphone, but like their virtual reality (VR) counterparts, they can hardly compare with purpose-built gear.
But there’s hope — Brilliant Labs are working on AR devices that tick all of our boxes: affordable, easy to interface with, and best of all, developed to be as open as possible from the start. Admittedly their first product, Monocle, it somewhat simplistic compared to what the Big Players are offering. But for our money, we’d much rather have something that’s built to be hacked and experimented with. What good is all the latest features and capabilities when you can’t even get your hands on the official SDK?
This week we invited Brilliant Lab’s Head of Engineering Raj Nakaraja to the Hack Chat to talk about AR, Monocle, and the future of open source in this space that’s dominated by proprietary hardware and software.
The pants contain a Hall effect sensor which has been attached inside the fly of the jeans, at the bottom of the zipper. The zipper pull itself was then fitted with a strong magnet, which triggers the sensor when the zipper is in the open position. An ESP32 in the pocket of the jeans is tasked with monitoring the sensor. If it detects that the zipper has been down for too long, it sends a notification to the wearer’s smartphone to zip up. We kind of wish they’d sound an ear-splitting klaxon, but that might draw undesired attention to the wearer.
Zipper position monitoring seems like a nightmare at first, but [Guy]’s hack shows us that it’s actually trivial with this method. The system does, however, add significant complication to what was previously a totally-analog pair of pants. Don’t expect “Big Jeans” to jump on this tech, as maintenance and waterproofing issues would likely make the hardware a pain to deal with in real life.
Plus, just imagine the frustration every morning. “Sorry, mate, not ready to head out yet – I’ve gotta pair my jeans with my smartphone.”
For as much advancement as humanity has made in modern medicine even in the last century alone, there’s still plenty we don’t understand about the human body. That’s particularly true of the brain, where something as common as dreams are the subject of active debate about their fundamental nature, if they serve any purpose, and where they originate. One research team is hoping to probe a little further into this mystery, and has designed a special glove to help reach a little deeper into the subconscious brain.
The glove, called Dormio, has a number of sensors and feedback mechanisms which researchers hope will help explore the connection between dreaming and creativity. Volunteers were allowed to take a nap while wearing the glove, which can detect the moment they began entering a specific stage of sleep. At that point, the device would provide an audio cue to seed an idea into the dreams, in this case specifically prompting the sleeper to think about trees. Upon awakening, all reported dreaming about trees specifically, and also demonstrated increased creativity in tests compared to control groups.
While this might not have the most obvious of implications, opening the brain up to being receptive of more creative ideas can have practical effects beyond the production of art or music. For example, the researchers are also investigating whether the glove can help individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder manage nightmares. From a technical perspective this glove isn’t much different from some other devices we’ve seen before, and replicating one to perform similar functions might be possible for most of us willing to experiment on ourselves.
The device consists of a wrist cuff that mounts twelve pressure sensors, arranged radially about the forearm. The pressure sensors are a custom design, using magnets, hall effect senors, and springs to detect the motion of the muscles in the vicinity of the wrist.
We first looked at this project last year, and since then, it’s advanced in leaps and bounds. The basic data from the pressure sensors now feeds into a trained machine learning model, which then predicts the user’s actual finger movements. The long-term goal is to create a device that can control prosthetic hands based on muscle contractions in the forearm. Ideally, this would be super-intuitive to use, requiring a minimum of practice and training for the end user.
It’s great to see machine learning combined with innovative mechanical design to serve a real need. We can’t wait to see where the OpenMuscle project goes next.
Virtual reality has come a long way in the past decade, with successful commercial offerings for gaming platforms still going strong as well as a number of semi-virtual, or augmented, reality tools that are proving their worth outside of a gaming environment as well. But with all this success they still haven’t quite figured out methods of locomotion that feel natural like walking or running. One research group is leaping to solve one of these issues with JumpMod: a wearable device that enhances the sensation of jumping.
The group, led by [Pedro Lopes] at the University of Chicago, uses a two-kilogram weight worn on the back to help provide the feeling of jumping or falling. By interfacing it with the virtual reality environment, the weight can quickly move up or down its rails when it detects that the wearer is about to commit to an action that it thinks it can enhance. Wearers report feeling like they are jumping much higher, or even smashing into the ground harder. The backpack offers a compact and affordable alternative to the bulky and expensive hardware traditionally used for this purpose.
With builds like these, we would hope the virtual reality worlds that are being created become even more immersive and believable. Of course that means a lot more work into making other methods of movement in the virtual space feel believable (like walking, to start with) but it’s an excellent piece of technology that shows some progress. Augmenting the virtual space doesn’t always need bulky hardware like this, though. Take a “look” at this device which can build a believable virtual reality space using nothing more than a webcam.
If you’re willing to spend $200 USD on nothing more than 100 grams of plastic, there are a few trendy sunglasses brands that are ready to take your money before you have time to think twice. Sure, you can get a pair of sunglasses for an order of magnitude less money that do the exact same job, but the real value is in the brand stamped into the plastic and not necessarily the sunglasses themselves. Not so with this pair of Ray-Bans, though. Unlike most of their offerings, these contain a little bit more than a few bits of stylish plastic and [Becky Stern] is here to show us what’s hidden inside.
At first glance, the glasses don’t seem to be anything other than a normal pair of sunglasses, if a bit bulky But on closer inspection they hide a pair of cameras and a few other bits of electronics similar to the Google Glass, but much more subtle. The teardown demonstrates that these are not intended to be user-repairable devices, and might not be repairable at all, as even removing the hinges broke the flexible PCBs behind them. A rotary tool was needed to remove the circuit boards from the ear pieces, and a bench vice to remove the camera modules from the front frame. We can presume these glasses will not be put back together after this process.
Hidden away inside is a pair of cameras, a Snapdragon quad-core processor, capacitive touch sensors, an amplifier for a set of speakers. Mostly this is to support the recording of video and playback of audio, and not any sort of augmented reality system like Google Glass attempted to create. There are some concerning ties with Facebook associated with this product as well which will be a red flag for plenty of us around here, but besides the privacy issues, lack of repairability, and lack of features, we’d describe it as marginally less useful as an entry-level smartwatch. Of course, Google Glass had its own set of privacy-related issues too, which we saw some clever projects solve in unique ways.