I met Laszlo Kovacs, Director of C/Punk/Doc through the amazing forums @ Cyberpunk Review. He invited me to submit media just as they were wrapping production, so we have a 1.5 minute segment on my Wearable and Nomadic Computing work that begins Act 2. Narration is by Hawk from American Gladiators, over the song Teenage Hitman by Encephalon. Thank you Wood, Keypixel, and my other fellow Cyberpunks.
I've been meaning to say hi to everyone I met at the 2nd BIL Conference and thanks for tuning in. It was a great networking weekend for the wearable computing community in LA. We want to put together a non-con AKA un-conference like Mobile Camp. Maybe we'll spin off Steve Mann's term for a wearable computer; WearComp, and call our non-con WearCamp or WearComp Camp. I'll write more later on some excellent BIL talks and interactions about Wearable Computing, Cyborg, and H+ soon. I want to gather some photos, video, and audio together to help share the phun.
Reader Gerard Sequeira wrote in to tell us about his tutorial of how to disassemble Spy Gear's ATV-360, a remote control car with a video camera for spying on the dirty socks hiding under your bed. Ordaos and I did the same thing at the MAKER Fair last year with Spy Gear's Video Car and besides entertaining many with our antics, we also managed to pick up the signal of a robot transmitting on the same frequency. Talk about a fun weekend! Anyways, check out Gerard's dissasembly howto if you're interested in building an extremely low cost DIY wearable.
Here's another implementation of Kopin displays, and the whole HMD is about $200. Myvu's Solo also works with an iPod Touch. Kopin displays were also used in the SpyCar HMD, as well as many others.
[link via MAKE blog]
This is graduate student Daniel L. Ashbrook from the Georgia Institue of Technology at the Where 2.0 Conference in San Jose, CA. Picture by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media.
MobilitySite has a review of the new MicroOptical "myvu" personal video viewer, which retails for $269.00. They gave the viewer a 4.7 out of 5. I can't wait to try this thing out myself.
According to DisplayDaily, a South Korean company called Kowon Technology, which is a subsidary of Kopin is going to unveil a new video eyeware next week.
Indeed, the new MSP-209 is already on Kowon’s website. The lightweight MVS - for mobile video spectacles - weigh only 62 grams, making them the world’s lightest, says Kowon. The light weight is due in part to the lightweight Kopin microdisplays, which measure 4.2×4.8mm and weigh only 2 grams each.
The QVGA displays are incorporated in Kopin’s BDM, or Binocular Display Module, which makes it much easier for customers to produce video eyewear since display mounting and alignment issues are already taken care of. A separate power control kit, which weighs about 40 grams, contains a lithium-polymer battery that lasts for 8 hours.
By the end of the year, Kowon plans to launch an upgraded version that provides TV-quality resolution, Asia Pulse Businesswire said.
Expect to see a lot more entertainment video devices over the next year, this trend isn't slowing down anytime soon.
[ Link ]
How long till someone hacks it to scroll digg.com?
Wildplanet, the company behind the now discontinued Spy Gear Night Vision Goggles is coming out with a new toy this fall that may well serve as a great replacement for us wearable computing makers. This time, instead of going the pure infrared approach, they decided to put the camera on a remote control car instead, which reminded me of the 1st person helicopter HMD I blogged about last month. This new toy is recommended for all hackers ages 8 and above, and has a suggested retail price of $100 to $160 USD.
Because plain-sight video monitors are not acceptable in the spy world, you’ll need the one-of-a-kind private screen of the Spy Video Car to keep your secrets safe from enemy eyes. Wear the lightweight frames with the single LCD lens to ensure you’re the only one who views the video transmitted through your RC vehicle.
Adjust the camera angle on the wireless spy car and send it on secret missions using the hand-held remote control. Observe the journey and the destination through the small screen attached to your headset. Darkness poses no obstacle for the Spy Video Car as its infrared night-vision system lets you see clearly in the dark without emitting any visible traces of light. From the safety of your spy headquarters, watch what’s going on wherever your video vehicle travels, indoors and out, up to 75 feet away.
I wonder if I can put in my order now...
[ Link via Matthew Spencer Hensley. Thanks Matthew! ]
R/C flying is fun, but wouldn't it be a lot better if you could see from the perspective of your helicopter or airplane? Using a miniture camera, some wireless equipment, and an EyeTop, you can do just that for just $425 total. Imagine building this with the R/C paintball tank or an R/C submarine!
[ Link via del.icio.us ]
iLounge just did a comparison of all the wearable iPod displays that were announced at this year's CES. They range in both price, and quality, but all come under $700, and are designed quite differently. The eMagin Eyebud comes out as the highest quality HMD of the lot, going past what the iPod can actually output, but you're going to have to wait for that one. If you want one now, you should go for the Icuiti DV920 if you can afford the $550 price tag.
eMagin Eyebud 800: ~$600 [800x600, 16 Million Colors, 1 OLED display] Release Date: First Half 2006[some prices rounded up a dollar]
Icutit iWear for iPod: $300 [320x240, 2 LCD displays]
Release Date: Second Quarter 2006
Icuiti DV920: $550 [640x480, 16 Million Colors, 2 LCD displays]
Release Date: Now
MicroOptical myvu: $270 [320x240, I center-mounted AMLCD display]
Release Date: Now
The system, dubbed the EyeBud 800, is another entry in the booming ecosystem of accessories and complementary products that has emerged around Apple's portable music player. But this isn't in the realm of a $20 carrying case. Scheduled to debut in the first half of this year, the EyeBud is expected to retail for as much as $599 -- $200 more than the cost of a 60-gigabyte iPod.
But eMagin's executives are betting that the notion of a virtual big screen will win people over. With the proximity of the screen to the eye, and the magnifying effect of the company's optical technology, the company says that using the headset is akin to watching a 105-inch display from 12 feet away.
I think this may have been an afterthought on their part, but I do think the iPod has been a big influence on wearable computing. For starters, the iPod has got people carrying around huge hard drives, and not thinking much about it. Also they're just miniture computers, as many have proven by installing linux on them. If Video iPods make head mounted displays commonplace like bluetooth headsets are these days, I'm all for the marketing factor.
[ Link via Davy Kreiger. Thanks David! ]
Wow, while this probably won't impress the ladies, this $250 head mounted display from Coccolo sure is priced right.
Japanese startup Coccolo is going to sell a monocular HMD (head mounted display) for 29,800 yen (~$250) in Japan this December.
Someone built an iPod VR display. Okay mayby "built" is a bit strong, all he did was connect it to the video iPod's AV cables and took a bunch of pictures of himself.
I've wondering if small portable video devices will eventually spark the VR / LCD goggles you always see in the future sci-fi movies.
Well, I support that. I do think the iPod is one of the most influential wearable computers at the moment. Plus he also wants to build a VR glove controller for his video iPod.
[ Link off the MAKE blog ]
Steve Mann, cyborg activist and University of Toronto professor, with his eyetap device.
Photo by Declan McCullagh.
[ Link ]
Man, I wish I grok'd Japanese. This removable HMD for glasses looks pretty sweet. One of my problems is that I wear glasses, and I would prefer to have an HMD that rides on top of them.
Christoph Bungert has made a list of HMD and VR helmets, which lists things like price, resolution, number of panels, and more. I think this is the kind of community resource that really helps people who are interested in working with mediated reality / augmented vision.
The only thing it's missing is editorials!
Under the contract, Microvision will deliver prototypes that meet or exceed military standards. General Dynamics C4 Systems awarded the subcontract.
Here's a video of their current military gear.
[ Via nwsource.com ]
The Eyetop Camera is an Head Mounted Display with a 752x582 resolution video camera on the side. It uses PAL/NTSC and gets 25 frames a second.
Eyetop Camera incorporates a professional rugged aluminum video camera and LED system into the frame of the best-selling Eyetop Classic ‘video glasses.’ .You can film what you see and control it with the monitor embedded in the lens of the glasses, or even get another set of information on that high-quality active matrix LCD screen from any external video source.
Okay so at this point, you're probably like me, drooling on your keyboard, wondering what members of your family you can sell into slavery in order to get one of these. Well that's where Nicolas from Eyneo comes in:
That product was for sale at $4,000+ and is out of stock now. It will be replaced with a new version at far lower price point first semester 06. Price unknown today. Thanks, nicolas
Well I guess my family members and girlfriend are safe... for now.
[ Link ]
Here's a review of WildPlanet's "Infra-Red Nightvision Goggles". I had seen these before, but after trying out the "Eye-Link Communicators" from the same company and being a bit disapointed, I wasn't about to go spend $80 on another potentially too small, not useful enough wearable computing spy toy. I then read about this other guy who is currently hacking his, and it sounds somewhat promising!
I recently purchased one of [the IR Nightvision Goggles]. From what research I've done so far, it is a pretty good candidate for hacking into a fairly low-end eyetap/wearable display.
Comfort-wise, it's not great, but it is a lot better than the Cybermaxx displays from days of old. There are plenty of spots here more padding could be attached to make it more comfortable. The batteries are in a belt pack, and the headpiece connects to them via what looks like a standard power connector.
The camera is fixed-focus, and is surrounded by a ring of IR LEDs. These cannot be turned off without modifying the device or turning the whole thing off. They tend to wash out the view in normal indoor lighting conditions, but only in a spot in the middle.
The display itself appears to be a kopin cyberdisplay with a yellow-green LED backlight. The backlight is a surface mount LED on its own small PCB behind the display, so replacing it with something a bit less bilious is fairly simple.
Tekgear sells a white LED backlight (http://tinyurl.com/cb7zm) for 28
that might fit. I haven't tried it.
The driver chip is a MCVVQ111, apparently the FB version. According to other posts on [the wear-hard list]:
"MCVVQ111FB is a MOS8 device MOS8 has already closed down. MCVVQ111AFB is MOS20 device and is a replacement for MCVVQ111FB.[...] Please note that the loop filter of MCVVQ111AFB on pin 7 is different from that of MCVVQ111FB."
According to freescale semiconductor:
" The MCVVQ111 VirtuoVue Monochrome Video Display is designed to accept a standard monochrome video signal (525 or 625 lines), and convert it for display on the CyberDisplay320 LCD Display Panel. [...] A separate OSD input is provided."
The camera in the night vision monocle is on a separate board from the display driver chip. They are connected by a four pin cable that includes power, ground, and (I assume) video signal and video ground. At any rate, there is not another chip to render a proprietary signal into standard video, so I assume that the camera outputs standard video. I'll be checking into this over the next week or so.
There are at least two ways you could make this into an eyetap.
The first is by disconnecting the video output from the camera, routing it to a computer, doing some processing, and then sending it back to the display board. This is probably better, as it would allow some scaling of the image to match what the other eye sees. As manufactured, the image on the display is smaller than life, so the effect is somewhat like looking through a telescope backwards with one eye while having the other eye open.
The second is by hooking into the OSD connections of the cyberdisplay driver chip and using the built-in OSD input. This is probably less optimal, as you would need to hook up an OSD generator, connect to a very tiny pin on the chip, etc.
Of course, if you don't want an eyetap, then you still have a very small display, driver board, and camera with IR LEDs, all for ~$80.
I hope it works out well!
[ Link via the wear-hard mailing list ]
Someone's selling their covert head mounted display. Might be worth getting since most of the commercial HMDs out there are so geeky.
I am willing to sell this prototype for $1200, I will include documentation of my previous efforts as well as an upgrade that I never went through with (that gives more eye clearance and moves the screen closer to the center of your vision by relocated the connector board using spare hirose connectors that eMagin is willing to supply at about $3 each).
Keep in mind that this display is a true 800x600 pixel 24 bit color display.
This prototype gets its signal from a VGA cable. And it gets power from any USB
For this kind of cash though, I'd probably make sure you can get your money back if it isn't what you want.
[ Link via the wear-hard mailing list ]
[ Link ]
Williams' system incorporates an electronic device, which houses a compass, at the back of the headstrap on the goggles.
When the swimmer turns, the compass detects that the co-ordinates have changed and registers the time.
The information, including the total time spent swimming, the number of laps completed and the speed traveled are shown in a tiny heads-up display inside the goggle lens, using a system that reflects information off tiny mirrors. [CNN]
[ Link via del.icio.us. ]
Yet another HMD, luckily this one is really targeted at the wearable market instead of the videophone market.
It also weighs 27g, so not too bad considering.
[ Link via Engadget ]
It also has headphones, and weighs 70 grams. Due to come out in October of this year.
[ Link via Engadget ]
[ Link. Found by Steve Barr, and posted to the Wear-Hard mailing list. ]
Pretty tame interview with MicroOptical Marketing Vice President Mark Basler. Not very noteworthy, except for the following passage:
"We've talked to a lot of wireless telecom executives, and they're very interested in replacing cell phone displays with these kinds of glasses," Basler says. "These companies want to be able to sell consumers more and more display-intensive functions that will use up air time, but in order to do that they'd have to make the handsets so big that no one would buy them. That's where we come in." Possible partners also include phone makers like Motorola, Nokia and Samsung.
MicroVision has introduced a new head mounted display for $4,000, which is being marketed towards automotive service enviornments. This means that your local grease monkey may be wearing one of these devices, if you own a porche.
The system lays schematics on top of what you would normally see, and uses 802.11b wireless to connect as a thin client to the shop's server to pull schematics. They also say you can view webpages over the monocromatic display, but somehow I think this might not be the ideal way to surf the web.
Tony Havelka wrote to the wear-hard mailing list about a hack from TekGear using the Eye Link Communicator, a kid's toy that I've written about on here before, and their M1 OEM Kit. TekGear's Lily Bergen has described a cheap way to make use of their OEM kit for their 320x240 grayscale HMD ($375USD), which is not very useful without a viewfiender and casing. Hopefully this will not be the first hack of the Eye Link Communicator.
It is likely that for many people, TekGear's Ingineo Eye Top is a better solution to the low end HMD market at $449USD. At least for people who don't wear glasses already.
In related news, TekGear is publishing a monthly newsletter. How neat! It's basically a platform for their products, but I love their high end geek swag, and hopefully this will help provide information to our community.
In Time's new article, Coolest Inventions for 2003, they profile a device from Motorola and Frog Design which part of their Offspring Wearable prototypes. It's odd that Time would list a device that isn't really available, but it is quite cool. It houses a digital pinhole camera above the right lens, a miniature display on the inside of the left lens, and an ear piece that pops out the side. They intend to market this as a cell phone accessory available for the public in 2006.
I for one applaud a major hardware manufacturer such as Motorola to produce a Head Mounted Display with a Point Of View Camera included. The design looks pretty nice too, but I hope they anticipate their male market as well as their female consumers.
Three years seems like a long time to wait to buy this gadget, but since it's a Motorola product, HMDs and POV cams are going to be commonplace when it is available to the public.
In addition, if you're interested in exoskeletons, check Time's bit in this article about Keijiro Yamamoto's Power Suit, which uses air power to augment your strength. Costs 15-20k, so only sutiable for rich gargoyles.
Update (Nov 10th, 4:53PM):
This turns out to be the same prototype that was popularized a while ago with a variety of other wearable toys, all of which utilize bluetooth to communicate. I also really like the wearable camera they are producing, although it's not nearly as sweet as the POV cam in the shades.
Goggles: Integrated into the frame of exciting,
stylish sports eyewear, this device incorporates a
heads-up display, digital camera, ear bud and
microphone. Due to the power requirements, there is a
tethered cord that runs out the back to an external
power supply. You can view 800 X 600 displays while
simultaneously staying in touch with the world around