Data Glove Gets A Grip On Gesture Input

If we really want wearable computing to take off as a concept, we’re going to need lightweight input devices that can do some heavy lifting. Sure, split ergo keyboards are awesome. But it seems silly to restrict the possibilities of cyberdecks by limiting the horizons to imitations of desk-bound computing concepts.

What we really need are things like [Zach Freedman]’s somatic data glove. This fantastically futuristic finger reader is inspired by DnD spells that have a somatic component to them — a precise hand gesture that must be executed perfectly while the spell is spoken, lest it be miscast. The idea is to convert hand gestures to keyboard presses and mouse clicks using a Teensy that’s housed in the wrist-mounted box. You are of course not limited to computing on the go, but who could resist walking around the danger zone with this on their wrist?

Each finger segment contains a magnet, and there’s a Hall effect sensor in each base knuckle to detect when gesture movement has displaced a magnet. There’s a 9-DoF IMU mounted in the thumb that will eventually allow letters to be typed by drawing them in the air. All of the finger and thumb components are housed in 3D-printed enclosures that are mounted on a cool-looking half glove designed for weightlifters. [Zach] is still working on gesture training, but has full instructions for building the glove up on Instructables.

It’s true: we do love split ergo keyboarded cyberdecks, and this one is out of this world.

Control Stuff With Your Muscles

[David Nghiem] has been working with circuitry designed to read signals from muscles for many years. After some bad luck with a start-up company, he didn’t give up and kept researching his idea. He has decided to share his innovations with the hacker community in the form of a wearable suit that reads muscle signals.

It turns out that when you flex a muscle, it gives off a signal called a Surface ElectroMyographic signal, or SEMG for short. [David] is using an Arduino, digital potentiometer and a bunch of op amps to read the SEMG signals. LEDs are used to display the signal levels.

The history behind [David’s] project dates back to the late twentieth century, which he eloquently points out – “Holy crap that was a long time ago”. He worked with the MIT Aero Astro Lab and the Boston University Neuromuscular Research Center where he worked on a robotic arm for astronauts. The idea being to apply an opposing force to the arm to help prevent muscle deterioration.

Be sure to check out [David’s] extensive and well documented work, along with the several videos showing his projects at various stages of completion. If this gives you the electromyography bug, check out this guide on detecting the signals and an application of the concept for robotic prosthesis.

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PCB Manicure Wields Laser Cutter For Your Nails

Wearable electronics is a hot topic these days. Although these fancy talons are only for show, they could lead to more in the future.

[Shelby] and [Colleen AF] showed people how to include a laser cutter in your nail care at a recent event at NYC Resistor. The technique used here starts off with a base coat of the background color before heading to the laser cutter. Now don’t worry, you don’t need to risk any of your digits. A type of reverse silk screen is made with the laser by deeply etching the artwork into a piece of flat acrylic sheet. Those voids are then filled with the secondary color for the circuit traces and the excess is removed with a squeegee. A sponge is then used to transfer the paint from the recesses in the acrylic to the nails.

Granted, PCB finger nails might not be your cup of tea, but it does make us wonder: What if conductive ink was used? Would it be possible to build a circuit on your own fingernail? Obviously you would want to use a sticky, conductive glue rather than solder. (Please don’t try to reflow solder your fingers at home.) What kind of power supply would fit? What could you build? We also see other possible applications of the process like labeling non-flat surfaces. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

UPDATE: [David Flint] points out in the comments that this is a type of offset gravure printing.

Here’s Pi In Your Eye – HUD Goggles

[John Ohno] has found what is perhaps the best possible use for steampunk goggles: framing a monocular display for a Raspberry Pi-based wearable computer. [John]’s eventual goal for the computer is a zzstructure-based personal organizer and general notifier. We covered [John]’s zzstructure emulator to our great delight in July 2011. Go ahead and check that out, because it’s awesome. We’ll wait here.

[John] has been interested in wearable computing for some time, but is unimpressed with Google Glass. He had read up on turning head-mounted displays into monocular devices and recognized a great opportunity when his friend gave him most of an Adafruit display. With some steampunk goggles he’d bought at an anime convention, he started on the path to becoming a Gargoyle. He encountered a few problems along the way, namely SD card fail, display output issues, and general keep-the-parts-together stuff, but came out smelling like a rose. [John] has ideas for future input additions such as simple infrared eye tracking, the addition of a chording keyboard, and implementing a motorized glove for haptic learning. 

Want to make your own wearable display but have an aversion to steampunk? Check out this homebrew solution with (mostly) 3-D printed frames. And it has servos!

[Thanks John]

Wearable Raspberry Pi Turns You Into The Borg

The Hoboken hackerspace, MakerBar, recently hosted a very special guest – [Rob Bishop] from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Wanting to impress [Rob], [Zach] and a few others from MakerBar put together a wearable computer based on the Raspberry Pi in just a few hours.

Putting a Raspi, small Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo, and a USB charger equipped with lithium-ion battery wasn’t that hard. The tricky part was finding a wearable display. Luckily, [Zach] had a pair of MyVu Crystal video glasses lying around and after a tricky bit of dissassembly, the folks at MakerBar had a completely wearable computer.

Apart from the RCA cable connecting the Raspi to the glasses, the project is completely wireless; with a small webcam also mounted to the display, the Pi in the Face could easily be a platform for figuring out what to do with Google Glass.

[Zach] said the entire setup could be reconstructed for about $100, a fair price for being turned in to [Locutus] of Borg

Emulating A Marching Band With Wearable Instruments

[Scott] is a design and technology master’s student who just came up with The Imaginary Marching Band – virtual band instruments you can wear on your hand.

Taking inspiration from Minority Report and the NES Power Glove, the system is able to emulate 6 instruments at this point – A trumpet, trombone, tuba, snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. The glove itself reads data from a variety of sensors and passes that onto an Arduino Uno which sends serial data back to a computer. This data is then parsed by a Serial – MIDI converter, and can then be played back through a sampler, synthesizer or piped into your sequencer of choice. Happily, [Scott] will be designing custom PCBs for his gloves to cut down on space and weight, and he’ll also be making his project open-source eventually.

[Scott] has a kickstarter page for his project, and so far he’s been on track towards getting this project funded. Check out a demo after the break.

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25C3: State Of The Art Wearable Computing


[Kai Kunze] from the Embedded Systems Lab at Passau came to 25C3 to talk about Cyborgs and Gargoyles: State of the Art in Wearable Computing. There have been a lot of homebrew wearable computing solutions, but [Kai] covered specifically projects that could see everyday use in the real world.

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