It seems like one of the trickiest components in a wearable computer is coming up with a wearable display device that’s usable, not overly intrusive, and preferably inexpensive. Last November, I posted about Raif Ackermann’s Nokia-based wearable that uses a hacked Myvu Crystal headset as a head mounted display. Meant for privately watching iPod videos, the Myvu device can be easily hacked to work with a wearable system since it’s basically just a very tiny VGA device.
Gregor Richards has been working on his own wearable using the Myvu. He sent us a couple of Youtube videos that demonstrate how the display can easily be mounted to a set of safety glasses, and he was kind enough to answer a couple of questions I had about the device he’s planning on building with his new HMD.
I asked Gregor about the software and hardware that he’ll be using in the device he’s building. Here was his response.
I have two options for cursor control: The simple one is a finger-mounted optical mouse as it’s usable against clothing and so it should be possible to mouse on the sleeve. The other, slightly more wild option is an arm-mounted Wii remote. A friend of mine has been messing around with that configuration and has had some success at using the rotation and pitch of your arm to move the mouse. Depending on which one is more convenient, I’ll go one way or the other.
For data input I’m going the simple route. Rather than having a chord keyboard or something, I’m just going to use a very small, pocketable bluetooth keypad. Namely, the Freedom Input Slim Keypad. It was a bit pricey, but it works great, and better yet it works over bluetooth.
The computer itself will be the Pandora, for the simple reason that I was buying it anyway :) . I could certainly buy a simpler system with no internal screen, but using the Pandora has the nice benefit that there will be a user community for it, and if I feel like playing a game I’ll have the game controls available. Hopefully I can turn off the internal screen in software to massively boost the battery life … I imagine this must be possible since it should be usable as an MP3 player. The Pandora won’t be shipping ’til mid-January at least.
As you can probably deduce, my plan was to build an off-the-shelf wearable as much as possible, as I usually don’t trust myself tearing things apart. The display was the only component that requires significant modification, so I did it first. As it turns out, teh Myvu Crystal really made such modification fairly easy :). The total price for all of this should be around $700, a price that should be approachable on nearly any budget.
I was also really interested to know what the primary function will be, or if he has any particular application in mind.
I have no particular plans, I’m building it because it’s cool :). I’ll probably use it for the same things I use my PDA for now (calendar, general PIM stuff, etc), it’ll just be a much more awesome way to do that. At some point I may get a full-sized bluetooth keyboard so I can more-or-less use it as a laptop, just to reduce the number of computers I have to drag around (I can tolerate the resolution for this). I actually think it would be better as something not too special-purpose, as then it can just blend into the background of my daily affairs.
Gregor is documenting the development of this device on Youtube. It’s always cool to see projects like this take shape. If you’ve got a favorite wearable project, or if you’re working on one yourself, please share a link in the comments.