Gallery: Forget Cell Phones, Give Me Wearable Computing!

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Experiencing augmented reality doesn’t have to be as easy as holding up a cell phone. Through the years, researchers have dreamed up and constructed hardware that is either totally cool or utterly ridiculous (sometimes both, depending on whom you ask).

The above funglasses from Lumus Optical suggest you can view email, SMS and video games “inconspicuously during meetings.”

Because no one would ever question why you’re wearing huge black sunglasses indoors.

Needless to say, I’ll give it up that there are practical applications for this hardware (exploring a city, viewing Google Maps, etc.). Plus, it’s pretty clever:

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Lumus’ patented, revolutionary Light-guide Optical Element (LOE) [ed. note: 2-3mm thick] comprises a flat, transparent optical substrate that incorporates a set of embedded partially reflecting facets. The upper figure illustrates the LOE function. An optical image, generated by a microdisplay (e.g. LCD, LCoS or OLED), is coupled into the LOE substrate. Trapped by total internal reflection, the image components are guided along the LOE. The image is then expanded and coupled out by a set of partial reflectors for viewing by the user. The LOE provides the viewing experience of a large distant screen: an enlarged, distant image, with a large field-of-view (FoV).

After the jump, check out some other AR projects, old and new, which require you to look less like an iPhone fanboy and more like a cyborg…

[Lumus via MedGadget]

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First developed in 2002, this pack was one of four created especially for a game of “Human Pacman”, which played out in the streets of Singapore.

Pacman can collect the virtual cookies by walking through them, while Ghosts can “eat” the Pacmen by physically tapping the Pacmen’s back. However, Pacmen can collect power-pills which are Bluetooth-embedded boxes hidden in the game area to become Super Pacmen for a short period of time to “eat” the Ghosts in the similar fashion.

We also introduced the role of Helper, who can participate the game through the Internet. The movements of the Pacmen and Ghosts are tracked using sensors and they are linked back to a wireless Local Area Network which is connected to the Internet. Hence, the 3D-graphical version of the game can be rendered in real-time. Helpers can thus watch the game “live” and guide the Pacmen or Ghosts to reach their goal by text communication.

Did I mention it was funded by the military?

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Around the same time, students at Carnegie-Melon’s ICES were experimenting with a Spot wearable computing device (left) and companion driver interface system, which was comprised of several cams and devices.

Whatever.

You still look like The Borg.

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Speaking of which, how could I not mention Steve Mann, author of Cyborg? The dude’s troubles boarding airlines are well documented on Boing Boing. But regardless of such petty setbacks, just look at the evolution of that hardware…

Not especially chic, but his look sure has come along way!

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Back in 1999, this Wireless Immersive MultiMedia Information System (WIMMIS) was comprised of a Cybertrack head tracker for “orientarion [sic] determination,” a Sony Glasstron TM display, a Xybernaut MA 4 computer, and a wireless video link.

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All built into a vest that just screams: “I’m a walking Radio Shack!”

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As of 2008, this head-mounted, retinal-scanning display weighed just 25 grams. Much lighter and stealthier than earlier incarnations from 2005 — “less than one thousandth of the previous prototype.” Compliments of Japanese-based Brother Industries.

[via Gizmodo]

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Why mess with glasses, goggles and thin-film displays when you can affix said display direct to your eyeball?

That’s exactly what researchers at the University of Washington are wondering. And that’s why they’re developing a bionic contact lens that was unveiled last year. Already, they’ve tested the lenses on rabbits, which confirms that lab animals really do get to have all the fun.

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12 Responses to Gallery: Forget Cell Phones, Give Me Wearable Computing!

  1. sean varney says:

    yet a “NEW” HUD but this time its under 1k rez
    what again? yep there still messing around down there in under 1000 Pix range. Come back when you have a 2k rez system. This has been the state of HUDS for the last 10 years.

    Up the rex theres a CLUE

  2. monstrinho_do_biscoito says:

    top pic…

    “WARNING! ALEC BALDWIN APPROACHING! TURN AWAY! TURN AWAY!”

  3. Colin says:

    Right now,I’m thinking of Snow Crash‘s “gargoyles”.

    Though it would be insanely useful to have a truly visual eidetic memory.

  4. Chuck says:

    Charles Stross explored the possibilities of augmented reality glasses like these in his Accelerando.

    See also: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2009/05/login_2009_keynote_gaming_in_t.html
    (search “picoprojector” to skip to relevant discussion)

  5. grimc says:

    There needs to be a law prohibiting release of this stuff to the public until there’s widespread availability and use of robotic cars.

  6. Margaret Clarke says:

    Still waiting – I will wear a useable true wearable in a heart beat. Must be able to retrieve from memory and display data, search the net, have some form of keyboard — hey, I’ve already got a smart phone – 3/4 of it is here – just needs integrated.

  7. Kaleena says:

    this reminds me of this anime where the kids wore glasses that basically let them see everything around them like they were in the internet and it interacted with the real world
    but then eventually it became too control and started messing with peoples heads…yeah i dunno if i need a computer on my eyes
    theyre one of the few things that show me reality sometimes

  8. adralien says:

    I remember playing with a Xybernaut machine with a retina-projection system back in the day, it was pretty cool.

    “Ohh, cool retinal projection, hook me up… oh, it’s still Windows. Darn.”

    Useful software was/is missing. Maybe Apple can skip the kiss-of-death Tablet market and skip ahead to the bionic contact lens and write some good apps.

  9. cnawan says:

    Don’t forget Vuzix-when their Wrap 920AV’s eventually reach market they may have the best funglasses (ooh, let’s standardise on that term :)). At least they’ll be higher resolution than Lumix’s at 800×600 (stereoscopic) @ 60Hz, and selectively transparent too.

    Also potentially worthy of note is the EU standardising on micro-USB chargers for cellphones-will the competitive pressure to shrink phones and maximise features result in the USB bus becoming the default sensor bus for mobile addons, such as augmented reality displays and inertial measurement units?

    Of course there’s always Bluetooth in phones and laptops, but I’m sure the folks at Defcon would have some security advice there, ie. wireless = bad. I know I don’t want my location visible to everyone via the net-I sure don’t want anyone sniffing my IMU traffic. Only a select few get to know how often I scratch my [frontbottom].

  10. caldrax says:

    All I want is a pair of glasses that look like Spider Jerusalem’s – with the ability to read my thoughts and snap photos when i request (or just take and store an infinite amount of video while they’re on… which I can then edit and tweak later).

  11. Konrad44 says:

    Rumor is Vuzix 920AV are going to be only 640×480 just like their previous glasses from 920 line. Also being video engineer I know no way to send stereoscopic (double) image over s-video cable without halving resolution – usually vertical. As much as I am excited about this new funglasses (I like the name!) I believe that we will have to wait a year or so for 800×600 version. Which won’t stop me from buying this model anyway :-)

  12. turn.self.off says:

    i think the big “problem” right now, is how unusual it is to see someone wearing something like this.

    its the same reaction as one would get (or may still get in some areas) when seeing someone wearing a bluetooth handsfree piece.

    as someone thats been wearing glasses the whole life, i would welcome the chance to make the “smarter”…

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