Tank Chair is a custom off-road wheelchair that can go anywhere outdoors. Conquers streams, mud, snow, sand, and gravel, allowing you to get back to nature, and can also climb up and down stairs.
This device might give Dean Kamen's Independance iBot a run for it's money.
Be sure to check out the videos on both sites.
Jobe Bittman is an igargoyle reader, and went to the MAKE faire this weekend. Correspondant Ordaos (aka my little brother), didn't get to interview him in person unfortunately, but I did get Jobe to answer some questions over email. I would very much like to profile more cyborgs, transhumanists, and gargoyles, so if you're interested, please contact us at email@example.com.
How long did it take to make your wearable?
It took me several years to make my first wearable system. It consisted of a M-1 monocular display, toshiba libretto CT100 and a twiddler 1. My current system is another small laptop, a fujitsu P5120, a MicroOptical SV-3 and the Twiddler2. All my systems have been based on laptops or PDAs.
How heavy is it?
I've never weighed it. It feels about 5 pounds.
How often do you wear it?
I used to wear it everyday for a walk. Basing a wearable on a laptop is cheaper, but you can't just grab it like a cell phone and head out the door.
What did it cost?
I think the parts were around $2700.
What do you use it for?
Usually just writing email and code, some light browsing and IMing.
How would you improve it?
Well the first change would be something smaller. The UMPCs coming out this year look promising. I was going to move to an Oqo, but the one I looked at got incredible hot.
Who or what inspired you to make it?
I think it was in 1998. I saw some reference to Steve Mann on the Internet. I found the MIT wearables page and I was hooked. My interest level has been pretty cool for the last year though, but now that San Francisco is getting metro wireless, I'm excited to improve my system again. I think having instant access to the internet anywhere is going to drive the creation of many new computer-user interfaces.
Cool, thanks for the interview Jobe. We'll be posting some of his pictures from the MAKE faire this week, along with Ordaos' photo-coverage and our first podcast with MAKER Syuzi Pakhhyan. I can't wait!
Meet the electric giraffe today at the MAKE faire. The first image is what it looks like on display, the second, is the giraffe in it's natural habitat.
[ Link ]
I'm sending my brother off to the MAKE faire this weekend in San Mateo, CA to do interviews for igargoyle.
If you would like to speak to him regarding your wearable computer, or some other project that you think would fit nicely on this blog, contact me through the "Suggest" link to the left, and I'll have him find you.
For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's a link -> http://makezine.com/faire/
I love Aqua Teen Hunger Force, despite how stupid and annoying it can be. I just picked up the last season on DVD. This episode called "eDork" is all about how Shake gets this thing called the eHelmet, which is the most insane wearable ever. Eventualy it gets so loaded up with add-ons that Shake can't move whatsoever. Funny thing is that this might actually have been based off a real product that the Japanese were developing, which happened to cause horrible neck problems.
Shake: I am not gonna turn on some analog faucet!
[ Link ]
NASA's approach is to record the electrical impulses from your brain to your vocal muscles and convert them into digital speech.
You say the words silently to yourself and the sensor matches the words you would have said and generates the text or speech.
Now imagine combining it with a bone-conduction device that allows you to hear without sound.
If you can have a conversation with another person somewhere else, without speaking, with no sound, and without anyone being able to tell, how is that functionally different from telepathy?
Since it's already converting brain signals to text then to speech, it would be relatively easy to add translation software to the mix for multilingual communication. You could even broadcast silent communication to multiple people who speak different languages and the software could translate it individually for each of them.
I want my telepathic universal translator implant!
[ Link ]
Hewlett- Packard's Bristol labs in the UK have made a prototype POV cam that is pretty covert and does 7.5 1.3 megapixel pictures every second. Maybe not broadcast quality, but the results are pretty nice to look at. It's still got some problems like the fact that they can only store up to three hours, but as cameras get smaller, and hard drives get bigger, I think sousveillance will really become prevalent throughout our society.
[ Link via digg ]
Designed for people with Advanced Macular Degeneration, enhancements like this could be available as elective upgrades for healthy eyes in the future.
[ Link ]
Update [nym]: I initially wrote about this back in November, but it hadn't completed human trials then. Sweet!
The story starts off as a thought-provoking near-future tale involving the rise of wearable computing as a means of intelligence amplification, then the afterburners kick in and the story rockets off into an exploration of transhumanism up to the Singularity and beyond.
Released under the Creative Commons license, Stross made the entire book available as a free download the same time the book went on sale.
Download it, read it, if you like it buy a copy and give it to a friend or add it to your library to read again later.
[ Link ]
How long till someone hacks it to scroll digg.com?
The device may beep as often as once an hour in a place that's haunted but might fall silent in other spots, Saito said. He wouldn't elaborate on how it works.
"This detects invisible phenomena and so the system is confidential," he said. "This is not a game. This is a measuring device."
If you're like me, you can't have too many stupid USB devices, but at 19,800 yen (US$185), I think I'll pass, especially as this ghost-fighting-machine only holds 512 Megabytes. I'll buy one when it's actually able to catch ghosts, not just beep at me.
[ Link via John Champlin. Thanks John! ]
The image here is taken from Microsoft's patent application for using skin as a personal area network medium.
Oh now this is just getting silly. Brits going to vist Alton Towers in England could be tagged with RFID tags, and tracked by cameras. That's not the really silly part either- They intend to sell patrons surveillance DVDs of their day back to them.
Wearing (compulsory) RFID'd wrist bands, guests would be watched as they use the park and will be filmed on rides, which the creators say would also cut crime. Nothing new in a theme park that tags its visitors but the innovation here is that at the end of the day they would then be given the option to buy the footage in a personalised DVD.
The system called Your Day could also be introduced to Busch Gardens, in Florida and Disneyland Paris.
I wonder if you can still buy the video if your kids get caught shoplifting.
For the same unit mass of fuel, a fusion power plant would produce 10 times more energy than a fission reactor, and because deuterium is contained in seawater, a fusion reactor's fuel supply would be virtually infinite. A cubic kilometer of seawater would contain enough heavy hydrogen to provide a thousand years' worth of power for the United States.
Tabletop fusion: check. Now, where's my skycar?
Here's a couple of the projects that were presented:
HealthGear, a real-time wearable system that monitors blood oxygen during sleep and may detect sleep apnea; "smart" clothes, such as the MyHeart instrumented shirt, a close-fitting sleeveless T with electrodes embedded in the fabric; and the EKG shirt, a prototype for a sensing T-shirt that measures an EKG signal through circuitry that has been embroidered on it with conductive yarn.
Smart clothes can be bulky. Eric Wade, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, and H. Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Mechanical Engineering, presented a paper on simplifying routing among connectors and integrating systems that use conductive fabrics, which are made of nylon and polyester with a silver, nickel or aluminum coating. They propose using one system to transmit both power and data between the central node and sensor nodes within a system. Asada is director of the Brit and Alex D'Arbeloff Laboratory for Information Systems and Technology.
Would have liked to attend this. They covered some interesting aspects of body sensor networks, such a s privacy, security, data storage, and the problem with trying to embed electronics into clothes.
[ Link via Google News ]
I just love this jewlery. It reminds me of the Diamond Age for some reason.
[ Link via del ]
Submissions now open for the Tenth IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers! Submissions can include full papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages), poster papers (2 pages), demonstrations, tutorials and workshops, and exhibits. All submissions are due on April 21st.
[ Link via the Wear-Hard mailing list ]
I've said it before, but it really seems just like how cameras are a common feature in modern cellphones, GPS modules are the next big thing. After all, who doesn't want their cellphone to act as a Thomas Guide and tell them where their friends are?
Remember this? Talk about retro.. this is one of the largely unsuccessful controllers for the Nintendo, which was based on the VPL Dataglove. If you wanted one of these, you can still get them, although unless you want to use the buttons, it's probably not going to be a great input device for your next project.
[ Link ]
If you think ubiquitous computing has anything to do with web applications, here's another step in the right direction.
[ Link via digg ]
Hi everybody! I thought I'd lead in today with killer cyborg warrior sharks. The U.S. Military is developing brain implants that create remote-control sharks to patrol the oceans and invade enemy waters.
Optional upgrade: frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.
Imagine getting inside the mind of a shark: swimming silently through the ocean, sensing faint electrical fields, homing in on the trace of a scent, and navigating through the featureless depths for hour after hour.
We may soon be able to do just that via electrical probes in the shark's brain. Engineers funded by the US military have created a neural implant designed to enable a shark's brain signals to be manipulated remotely, controlling the animal's movements, and perhaps even decoding what it is feeling.
A friend of mine waited two hours in the rain the other day to see Steven Hawking, so when I saw this photo of Hawking as a cyborg, I just had to share it with you.
We have a new writer on the igargoyle team, who is going by the pseudonym "Xander". I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say about wearable computing, robotics, and whatever else he digs up for igargoyle. Expect more content on igargoyle, as well as more feature articles with his addition.
As always, you can submit stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. It always helps to get those tidbits from you guys, as well as the great feedback. If you like what Xander has to say, please let him know.
As a reader of igargoyle, do you identify with cyborgs? Transhumanists? Hardware enthusiasts? Something else?
Vitorio Miliano answered this question with a very thoughtful answer that both questions my initial question, and also addresses wearable computing for the masses:
"Busy." "Overworked." "Forgetful." "Human."
I see wearables and ubiquitous computing in general as a solution for time management, information storage and a way to eliminate the modern workplace need for continuous partial attention, and to be able to go back to giving 100% of our attention to the task at hand by having the computer dictate what that task needs to be.
Mediated reality, digital autoassociative memories, it seems to me that all of this is being toyed with for the sake of toying. There are no serious efforts being made to produce something usable by the mass market, nothing that will take all our inputs during the day, email, news feeds, TV, IMs, schedules, appointments, interrupting coworkers,
family responsibilities, and filter out everything we either don't want to deal with or shouldn't be dealing with or can better deal with at another time.
There's no Jeff Hawkins for wearable/ubiquitous computing. There's no-one who is walking around with a block of wood strapped to their back and face figuring out the best way a single mom middle manager with two kids is going to most effectively use a device that can orchestrate her entire day for her if she would only trust it.
There's no-one taking those use cases and building a multimodal UI that's consistent and efficient and effective and unobtrusive, because having a high resolution HMD so you can run Microsoft Word isn't going to be the way this sort of technology is going to take off. Input must be passive and hands-free unless it's a pointed moment in time, such as interrupting a conversation to say "computer" or pulling out a touchpad so you can write in Graffiti or on a Blackberry-style chiclet keyboard.
Ubiquitous computing needs wearable computing to happen because of the bandwidth problem. The world will never be saturated with multi-megabit wireless bandwidth, and once you come to trust your computer, not having
it available because you're in between cell towers is not going to be pleasant: it's going to be disorienting. Storage and processing capacity will always beat bandwidth in availability. You'll store more information on you, not in the cloud, as time moves forward, so you need ways to ubiquitously present your information, from a behind-the-bathroom-mirror screen to the seatback touchscreen on an airplane to the stereo in your car. Only the work done with multimodal wearable UIs will support that.
The PalmPilot wasn't created to replace the desktop, just to replace a pad of paper. Modern handhelds and phones have forgotten that. Wearables still haven't figured it out. Hardware is essentially a solved problem, has been for years. Physical design and multimodal UI design for mass market appeal and everyday use isn't. No-one's even
started on it, because those that could be are already sitting in front of a high-resolution multi-processor desktop ten hours a day.
I sold off my wearable prototyping hardware because messing with it was a distraction from the real work in this that needs to be done: the user interfaces. A multimodal UI obviously includes a desktop component, because workstations will never go away, so nothing is stopping me from getting started right now besides my own false preconceptions.
All the pieces to accomplish this are out there, right now, today. They have been for years. Will the next Jeff Hawkins please stand up?
[ via the Wear-Hard mailing list ]
Personally, I just want a t-shirt that I can change the design on the fly. When memes fly over the internet, it seems like fashion is always playing catch up.
The main difference between weBLOGS and cyborGLOGS is that blogs often originate from a desktop computer, wheras glogs can originate while walking around, often without any conscious thought and effort, as stream-of-(de)consciousness glogging
Joi Ito is a prime example of a glogger, with his moblog. It is my desire for igargoyle to become an aggregator of gloggers, or transhumanist mobloggers, especially those who have a POV camera capturing imagery.
This was my original concept four years ago, and still is pulsing within me, but I just do not know enough people.
If you have a glog, are interested in starting one, or know of other who do. Please contact me.
[ Related: Record Your Entire Day ]
Neurosurgeon Kenneth Smith, M.D., of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said the procedure is the first to reverse blindness in patients without eyes. "They are really seeing. The brain is getting impulses just like when you and I see."
A camera on the tip of Robertson's glasses sends signals to a computer that's strapped around her waist. The computer then stimulates electrodes in the brain through a cord that attaches to the head. Patients see flashes of light and outlines of objects.
"Whatever I see is just two splashes of light, so I know something is there," Robertson says. She admits support from her mom and the local Lion's Club keeps her spirits high. "If I was all depressed, I couldn't affect anybody's life for the good, and I want to make a difference." Friends, family and doctors say she already has.
The surgery is not yet performed in the United States, but Dr. Smith said he hopes it will be in the next five years. The main safety concern is an infection where the port goes into the head. For the surgery to work, patients must have once had vision.
[ Link (with a video) via del ]
Ah to be an artist- an artist obsessed with wearable audio. Imagine spending over twenty years coming up with new ways to put speakers on people in creative ways. Maybe you think that's crazy, maybe you think that's brilliant. In either case it makes for some funny pictures. Actually kind of inspiring actually. The above photo is of the "AUDIO BALLERINAS", which incorporated solar panels, along with speakers and samplers.
This other photo is of the "AUDIO PEACOCK", which to me makes me think of a human megaphone, which while amusing makes me think of hearing loss since it uses 16 loudspeakers (150 watts).
The "audio-plumage" is highly directional and functions like an electroacoustic radar dish -- esthetically it has much in common with the way a peacock parades itself in front of the pea-hen (the audience). An Audio Peacock can either amplify its own electronic instrument and voice or receive sounds from outside sources via transmitter/receiver and disseminate them in a space by orienting his high-tech "plumage". Four Audio Peacock units can be acoustically choreographed as a mobile quadrophonic loudspeaker system.
[ Link via del ]
Based on this article called "The Top 10 weirdest keyboards ever" the public might not be ready for wearable computers just yet. The author slams the wrist keyboard, the frogpad, and the Twiddler, all without one mention of wearable computers. Jesus, it may be weird if you're sitting at a desktop trying to use a Twiddler, but it's really not that weird if you're on the subway or in line at the bank. Just consider this descripton of the frogpad:
The frogpad is a tiny, tiny keyboard - or it would be more suitable to call it a keypad actually. The manufacturer say that you can get up to 40 words per minute if you practice between 6 to 10 hours with it. Any idea why they are calling it a frogpad?
Absolutely no mention of mobile, ubiquitious, or wearable computing.
Tony says: "Alas, the world does not seem ready for the cyborg…". Maybe not yet, but our time will come.
[ Link via Wear-Hard Mailing List / Tony Havelka ]
Replicating Robots aren't completely science fiction. These guys at Cornell built these worm like block robots that gracefully connect to each other and create duplicates of themselves. Well at least in concept- the software is acting like it's using raw materials, and they say it's not overtly difficult to get it to work on the micro levels using multiple materials to recreate itself.
Check out the movie of this in action. It's wild.
I'm just afraid that they will use this technology for future Furby related toys...
So, if you have money and aren't interested in building creepy replicating Furbies, go write them a check.
[ Link via John Champlin. Thanks John! ]
I don't know how I missed this, but for all the steampunk fans out there, I present the RC Steam Tank. There's even a movie of it running.
[ Link ]
While I imagine a lot of the igargoyle readers have already seen or bought a Roomba, I finally made the plunge. I don't expect I'll be a myroombud roomba cover or start hacking on my new slave robot, I am excited to have it join my family.
Maybe I'll get two and have them fight to the death. Mmm... Romba fight to the death.
When I was younger, I was occasionally called a nerd, mostly because when I wasn't able to become wildly social with my peers, I turned to computers- one thing I could control and completely own mentally. Like most others who had similar experiences, I'm no longer called a nerd, but instead the more favorable term, "geek". I get this respect because this social group has grown through the dot com boom, and the push of the world wide web. I no longer wish to hide my interests as a geek, but stand tall.
Transhumanists though, while a subset of geeks, are less understood. In fact the idea of modifying oneself seems outright alien to many. The idea of pushing one's human shell to the limits to improve performance, and lifespan is even threatening to some. I myself have had conversations with people where I've expressed my desire to live for centuries instead of just one, and found myself in an argument about playing god. Nevertheless the goals of the transhumanist movement are appealing to many, which Stacy Robinson addresses in her book Transhumanism Reloaded:
...It may be a mistake to dismiss the transhumanists as a harmless group of under-socialized techno-geeks. Their vision of a world in which atomized individuals use technology and free markets to achieve dominance over others differs in degree, and not kind, from much of the real world today. At a time when many people feel powerless to influence social conditions, their message—don’t worry about society; technology will make you smart, strong, and attractive—could seem compelling.
It may seem foreign and strange right now to wear head mounted displays and want to put impant electronics under our skin now, but I think like theg geeks and the world wide web, transhumanism and cyborganics are going to become more and more accepted as this group of individuals excels beyond others. I will stand tall with my desire to augment myself because the idea of improving myself is compelling, and I believe while the transhumanist movement is young, the work being done now will be the foundations for years to come.
Cyborganics took a big step forward when european researchers were able to fuse electronic chips with brain cells. The reason why they did this was to pave the road towards sophisticated neural prostheses. These prostheses could be used potentially to assist nurological disorders or build more advanced computers using human tissue. Yeah, it sounds a bit like Robocop, but it could mean a great leap in computational power and cyborgs.
To create the neuro-chip, researchers squeezed more than 16,000 electronic transistors and hundreds of capacitors onto a silicon chip just 1 millimeter square in size.
[Researchers] used special proteins found in the brain to glue brain cells, called neurons, onto the chip. However, the proteins acted as more than just a simple adhesive.
"They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," said study team member Stefano Vassanelli from the University of Padua in Italy.
The proteins allowed the neuro-chip's electronic components and its living cells to communicate with each other. Electrical signals from neurons were recorded using the chip's transistors, while the chip's capacitors were used to stimulate the neurons.
They see the payoff being decades away, but for the meantime they believe their work can be used for screening drugs for the pharmaceutical industry. After all researchers follow where the money is, and the pharmaceutical industry has bags of it.
[ Link via Xaos. Thanks Xaos! ]