June 05 2011
My never-ending quest to pack more computational power on my body is now aided by this neat smart watch:
The Sony Ericsson LiveView can access the Internet through a bluetooth connection to your Android phone and display information on its tiny 128x128 pixel color display. While compatibility is reportedly an issue, it works fine with my Samsung Galaxy S2.
I wasn't too happy about the included watchband, and the watchband I recycled from my old watch (shown above) is falling apart from wear and tear. So I decided to craft my own.
My first attempt was made entirely of velcro and never came closer to the sewing machine than this:
However it was too stiff, uncomfortable, and not very elegant. The second version used a comfy cotton ribbon:
The ribbon was too flexible instead, and my final version adds just enough stiffness by layering ribbons:
This smart watch is much more convenient to wear than my Beagleboard wearable computer, but a lot less powerful.
Arguably its most useful feature is the ability to install new apps. Most existing LiveView apps seem to be designed to promote procrastination rather than productivity by interrupting your work with constant email, twitter, and facebook notifications. My next step is using the SDK to develop an app so that you can wear your todo list on your wrist.
July 24 2010
Here's a more obvious way to wear a wearable computer:
I bought a cheap CD case, ripped out the interior CD pockets, and glued Velcro straps on the interior surface. Adhesive Velcro on the back side of the gadgets make for a configurable layout:
The case conveniently opens like a book for easy access to the components. Zipped close it becomes a compact bag that protects the interior:
Attaching a shoulder strap results in a relatively discrete wearable computer:
July 23 2010
How do you wear a wearable computer? Here's one idea:
Each component is attached to a leather shoulder belt using Velcro. If the cables were tidied up, it might be practical, but it sure ain't subtle :)
The components are:
- a pair of Myvu Crystal video glasses hacked into a monocular head-mounted display,
- the Beagleboard single-board computer running Angstrom Linux,
- a Plexgear mini USB hub driving a bluetooth adapter and powering the Beagleboard and the display,
- four 2700 mAh AA batteries powering the USB hub,
- a foldable Nokia SU-8W bluetooth keyboard for input,
- and Internet connectivity through bluetooth tethering to an iPhone in my pocket.
Here's the system laid out on a table:
July 19 2010
The Beagleboard is just an unprotected circuit board. I built the simplest possible case from a square piece of Plexiglas with four drill holes:
It was difficult to find spacer bolts of the right dimensions. Finally I cut my own from some nylon wall plugs:
Four 20mm M3 bolts are held in place by nuts on the back of the Beagleboard:
July 17 2010
A mobile system must be battery powered. I'd heard that the Beagleboard can be run on four regular AA batteries. My 1.2 volt batteries actually produced 5.4 volts when fully charged. I added a diode on the power cord to be on the Beagleboard's 4.8-5.2 volt safe side:
The Myvu Crystal display has a controller unit with a built-in 4h battery. It is supposed to run indefinitely while powered through the mini-USB port. But, for some reason, my unit still shut down after some time. I opened the controller and removed the battery:
I then cut the USB cable to get at the power cords:
This replaces the controller's battery with direct power from the USB cable:
Finally, I wanted to add a bluetooth adapter to the Beagleboard. Unfortunately it must be connected through an USB hub. This seems somewhat wasteful in terms of space and power consumption, but my attempts to bypass a hub by using the USB OTG port in host mode failed. Despite this, the Beagleboard, USB hub, bluetooth adapter, and Myvu Crystal display ran for a respectable 3h on my four 2700mAh batteries. Presumably you could add multiple battery packs in parallel to get an entire day of usage since each battery weighs only 30g.
July 16 2010
The Beagleboard comes with an S-video port. I previously wrote about configuring it for composite video. I connected the display through an S-video to RCA and a double-male RCA adapter:
This connector is unwieldy to say the least. In fact, it's as wide as the Beagleboard itself! Using a multimeter I figured out how to solder a regular RCA connector directly onto the board. You can see where the connections go in this image, including the shorting of two soldering points using a staple:
The other end connects to the Myvu Crystal controller and the glasses. Since I'm building a monocular, I pried open the glasses' connector hoping that the second cable would be easy to remove:
The cable seems to be covered in silicone, making it hard to remove. Wire cutters to the rescue:
July 14 2010
One 10cm piece of 1.5mm iron wire is fastened to the glasses' frames by screws through a piece of Plexiglas. The other end is simply attached to the display with electric tape:
The mount is light weight yet surprisingly stable. Most importantly, the viewing angle is easily adjusted using a pair of pliers:
It is apparently still possible to use the phone without the display getting in the way:
July 12 2010
I bought a gooseneck USB light. This is what it looked like after five minutes in my ownership:
A piece of Plexiglas was epoxied onto the neck and screwed onto the glasses' frames:
The idea was to mount the display on the flexible neck so that it could be easily adjusted to the right viewing angle:
This worked, to a degree. But the gooseneck could not be bent at any angle, so adjustment was still difficult. And the mount's weight made the glasses uncomfortable to wear.
July 11 2010
I came up with an idea for a very simple display mount to replace the more complex hinge. I cut a piece of the thick plastic from a credit card and bent it to the right shape. It looks like this after spray painting it black:
There is some space between the glasses' frames and lenses where the bent plastic fits. The display is attached to the credit card by electric tape:
However, once again, the viewing angle of the display was imperfect:
The bent plastic did not hold its shape. Any attempts to adjust the angle were futile. Now it's back to the drawing board to think up more ideas.
July 05 2010
My Vuzix Wrap 920 display was mounted in the right peripheral view. This provided access to the screen while still allowing me to safely navigate physical reality. But reading a tiny screen in the corner of your vision caused too much eye muscle strain.
Thus I wanted to mount the Myvu Crystal display on an adjustable hinge. You'd catch quick glances of the screen by looking down. Flipping the display up would put it in the center of your right eye view for extended reading and writing.
This is what I came up with:
The mount is made from plexiglas. I cut it using a metal saw and shaped the bend after heating it over a candle. A second piece of plexiglas creates a hinge and is fastened to the glasses' frame with screws:
Finally, the display unit is simply attached with some clear tape:
It looks neat, in my opinion, but unfortunately doesn't work very well. The eye needs to have a perfect viewing angle into the magnifying glass in front of the micro display. Otherwise parts of the screen very easily become fuzzy or completely obscured. The angle of the mount was difficult to get right, and impossible to adjust while attached to the glasses without risking burning the whole thing over the candle.
I'll probably have to try something simpler next.