Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cyberpunk glasses

Yesterday I got a package containing a "personal media viewer". The "converter" which contains the battery and a charger circuit was broken. I opened it and verified that the signal lines from AV in are just passed through to the HMD. Then I hacked down the glasses. Thumbs down to the manufacturer for the power supply wire colors: They used black for positive and yellow for negative. Thumbs up though, for using robust hardware that survives wrong polarity. I then mounted everything on the frame of my glasses. The result looks really cyberpunk-like:

Yes, this is a composite video input. What a blast from the past! However, it works. It is even quite comfortable since I removed all unnecessary weight.

I will order a beagleboard as soon as it is available again. Furthermore I found a pretty cool glove keyboard solution: Thumbcode. It is easy to implement in hardware and looks easy to learn and efficient. Stay tuned for more to come.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We do what we must because we can

Today I am posting about a new project that I just started. It's not something new, actually. Steve Mann has been doing this since the 1980s but now it seems to be possible with low-cost hardware and some DIY skills. I'm going to build a wearable computer. And I am going to document this in a way that you can make your own. I may even produce and sell these as cheap as possible. I think this may have a great impact on society, just look at a few ideas of what I would implement (hardware side):

  • Head-mounted display
  • First-person camera
  • Pupil/Gaze tracking "mouse"
  • Pinch glove "keyboard"
  • UMTS internet uplink
And what would be possible:
  • Hands-free access to the web all time
  • Copy and paste text from reality into the Google search bar
  • Catalogue of all people you ever met, combined with face recognition
  • Instant recording and replay of every moment in your life
  • Tweeting what you see wherever you are
  • Decipher QR codes by looking at them
And I guess you can continue that list with a lot of ideas of your own.

Well, I am a technology enthusiast. I do this because it is possible. I am aware that this may have unforseen consequences. But this is not going to make me stop, no that is even making the whole thing more interesting. This morning I met Steffen Kurpierz, my former ethics teacher. I told him about my ideas and about how it could change everything. He asked the question that I had not thought about until then: Do we want those changes to happen? However, I think that we cannot stop the development anymore. Also it looks like the Japenese would love such a thing. Very dystopian, isn't it? Let me remind you that there is a company in Japan working on this right now and they are planning to make this available as a consumer product in 2020. Looks like that video is actually part of a viral marketing campaign for the Iron Man 2 movie. All other developments that I know are targeted at industrial or military use. But I am sure there are people working on this as a consumer product. If not, at least I am. We cannot stop it anymore but maybe we can influence the direction this goes. I recommend you to read this article (two parts, german) with wearable hardware in mind.

Well, while I've been writing this I got an email that the package containing the wearable display I ordered has been shipped. I will order the beagleboard as soon as it is available again. I am so excited.