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.
This is the work I exhibited at Maker Faire this Spring. I've been hacking my Archos PMA-430 into wearable computer prototypes for 2 years, and hacking my Nokia N95 for about 9 months. The top image shows a video feed from my Nokia to my Archos, while the image below it shows the unhoused wiring that adds functionality such as USB connectivity and power.
Systems integration is designed for field-reconfigurability and use of ubiquitous technologies such as USB ports and ethernet or phone cables. I can charge both devices from AC, my motorcycle, its solar panel, or even a random computer in any number of libraries, cafes, etc. The two devices link up through a retractable 8-conductor ethernet cable, although I can use a multitude of available cords. The green terminal blocks allow field connections without soldering, since I believe the universal connector is bare wire if no adaptors are nearby.
I have hundreds of images of my work, and lots to write about, so there will be much more ahead. Just a Heads-Up.
I haven't been posting much, but I have been researching, developing, rapid prototyping, and hacking. I'm applying my love of desert camping, travel, wearable technology, and embedded computing to my urban flagship; a duosport motorcycle. Here's a first look:
This photo shows items I transformed into a top case and a tank bag.
While commuting, the top case can hold gear from errands. While touring, it can carry as much gas a my tank holds plus water. I can remove it anytime. This allows off-roading without extra fuel sloshing around in an enlarged tank. It is made from an LP case, and stability tests will determine if it's indeed more versatile than a top case and replacement gas tank; easily at a savings of at least $200.
The tank bag is made from a folding map case, magnets, and wiring. It's appropriate that it holds my phone with GPS, a non-networked highway infrastructure computer, compass and pencil pack, map, and a solar battery charger for my bike and auuxilliary device battery. I'm sure it'll still also hold an actual paper map or two. I can't find many tank bags with top map pockets that will fit my sloped gas tank. So, I made a form-fitting one that mostly multplies the functionality of the feature I wanted most anyway; a large map pocket.
Solar energy is fun, and rewarding. Jim Mason of San Francisco's art space called "The Shipyard", writes this geeky rant about the yard's solar energy. They even have a page where you can see their solar stats in real time!
yesterday was the first day the shipyard generated more electricity with pv panels than we actually used. mostly because of the coincidence of a very clear day and very low use. it's not sustainable. but still kinda neat. might happen again today.
more panels are currently on the way from arizona, and more in the yard already are getting closer to going in. soon we hopefully will be able to have parity or positivity on more than very unusual days. but certainly not everyday.
solar fusion > photons > electrons (dc) > chemical storage > dc > inverter ac > magic vines > mig welder > dc > heat > fused metal > art.
there must be an easier way than this . . .
[ via jim mason's Shipyard Announce mailing list ]
More good news for wearables. NEC has announced today a flexible battery that is designed for epaper, but could just as easily be embeded into textiles.
NEC announced an exciting foray into the world of bendy things today, with the revelation of their development of a 0.3mm thick flexible battery technology, that can also (allegedly) recharge in about 30 seconds.
LG Chem's fuel cell can power a 25W notebook computer for more than 10 hours on 200cc of methanol. Users in remote locations without electricity can simply swap out an empty cartridge for a full one and continue to work for another 10 hours. The fuel cell itself has a working life of more than 4,000 hours (approx 400 cycles) which is 8 times longer than similar products from rival companies, according to LG Chem.
The global demand for portable fuel cells in 2006 is estimated to reach US$600 million, rising to US$1.9 billion by 2010.
From the photo, the fuel cell doesn't look small, but I also remember when a gigabyte drive felt like a brick.
I won't go into much detail since this was covered on Slashdot already, but basically it's a backpack that generates up to 7 watts of energy by walking around. Only problem is that it weighs 40lbs to 80lbs aparently.
Ob Snow Crash reference (Score:5, Funny) by richie2000 (159732)
on Friday September 09, @05:43AM (#13517202)
- You're a gargoyle [metaweb.com].
[ Link to CNN article via Boing Boing ]
The solar panels are waterproof, tough, and light according to the manufacturer. In addition, they have an internal 2,200mAh Li Ion battery to store solar energy when you're not using it, but it can also be charged up by AC. Finally it has all sorts of electronics adaptors, much like the igo.
Oh wait, there's more. It's made for all your gear, with a laptop sleeve, phone/mp3 pouch, another mp3 pouch inside the bag, and hidden power cables to take power to various pockets.
I'm not sure how much it costs, but when I find out, I'll post an update. To be released this November. I thought I wanted a POV camera, but maybe I'll try to get this for myself. If you can't own a wearable computer, at least you can own the bag.
If Popeye was as smart as Marc Baldo, he might have thought about using his photosynthetic food for electrical means. Baldo along with the other smarties over at MIT have come up with a better way to produce solar energy. The process uses the photosynthetic proteins between two layers of conductive material. Not surprising since that's basically what most plants do while they're sitting in the sun, but to harness this is no minor feat. The technique is still very beta since they only last 21 days, but at 12% energy conversion this is science not to be laughed at.
I just love that these scientists went back to their roots.
Thanks to IPC Solar Technologies, maker of the iSun consumer solar panels, better solutions are emerging for the individual and outdoors man markets. The first is the rollable PowerFLEX, which are available in 5, 10, 20, and 40 watt versions (much better than the iSun's 2.2 watts). [source i4u]
The second is much more rugged and fully waterproof, and is being made in conjunction with Coleman. It's called the Coleman 50200 Exponent Flex 5 (try saying that five times fast), and is only $99 from amazon. Not bad for this 5 watt solar panel.
"The flexible solar are made with durable CIGS solar cells, a material proven to be very stable and long-lived, even when subjected to the rigors of extreme radiation in space. The solar panels work also under cloudy and rainy skies. The ICP Solar panels are designed to power 12V batteries and Gadgets." [from i4u]
IPC's new technology is excellent stuff for wearables, and the company has already partnered with wearable computing clothing manufacturer, scottevest. They plan to introduce their solar clothing for $300 in the spring of 2005, but any serious cyborg will want some more power.
"The jacket has two small snap-on photovoltaic panels that fit onto its shoulders. These charcoal-gray solar panels convert the sun's rays into energy, which then feed a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards. The batteries are wired to all the pockets, which can have almost any mobile devices plugged into them." [wired news]
So when exactly will we see this tech in backpacks? It seems like a logical jump. I found this other company which sells units designed to go on hiking packs. Not classy like IPC's stuff, but certainly good for the technomadic hiker at 20.2 watts.
One of the issues preventing the uptake of wearables and the creation of a gargoyle subculture is power: what good is a device that requires multiple expensive batteries just for a single day's use? Fuel cells promise an eventual solution, but reducing the cost and size will take years.
News of one potentional solution comes from yuichi's Kokoro blog in the shape of Smart Textile, a technology from Infineon Technologies that produces electricity from the temperature gradient between one's body temperature and air temperature.
The japanese article from ZDNet Japan describing Smart Textiles includes the picture to the right, which shows what is not going to be the future of wearable computing.
Efficient input devices for wearables are another issue. Another entry from Japan is this new one-handed keyboard and mouse based on cell phone design. Japanese youth are fairly adept with cellphone text entry, so this might actually meet a demand. Hopefully some sort of autocomplete will be provided. (Snarfed from Slashdot)