Final Project: Mono
Head mounted wearables, like most of the early iterations of emerging technologies, are currently designed in emotionless inhuman plastic boxes wrapped clumsily around our bodies. However, different from phones and computers, wearables, dwelling on part of our body, should be fashion, soft-goods, or familiar accessories. Instead of some sleek technological contraption, it could be a hat or a scarf - something that’s allowed to build up a patina, an identity, and an emotional significance for its owner. In my final project, I will first design a wearable within this paradigm of designing emerging technologies. And then further create a plug and play sensory augmentation toolkit.
looking throughout the history of eyeglasses, it started from the Eskimoan’s ivory piece to block the strong sunlight, later this style is shown up as a fashion trend in sunglasses. In the 19th century, they became a common part of wealthy gentleman and lady’s attire. The handle of lorgnette, the fitting with eye socket of monocles, and the pinching nose of pince-nez allow people to take them on and off when needed, not wearing them all-day. Sunglasses became popular in the 1930s, in part because the filter to polarize sunlight was invented. Another reason is because glamorous movie stars were photographed wearing them. Even if these were just as much works of art as they were functional. Eyewear in the past was a technology, it was introduced to the wide audience through fashion, even at the early stage they are heavy and uncomfortable. So here I see the opportunity for the wearables, especially head mounted devices of today.
Like most of the early iterations of emerging technologies, the current head mounted wearable designs are emotionless inhuman plastic black boxes wrapped clumsily around our bodies. Seems like throughout history, people are ignorant of how to design with new technologies - it always took them decades to finally reach a point. The most amusing automotive design in its early stage was the horse head. To ease the transition from horse-drawn to engine-drawn carriages, some early cars were equipped with horse heads to “fool” people into believing that their horse was still part of the transportation process. Apple used skeuomorphic design with glossy and beveled icons with strong drop shadows as their user interface at its early stage, because people are unfamiliar with the multitouch screens, the display resolutions were small, and the operating system was limited to a few tasks. Later in iOS7 they adopted flat design that gives the content a center stage and improve the user experience. So coming back to HMD designs, what would be their evolution, and how can we take the lessons from the design history of other technologies to fast-forward these wearable’s design?
My hypothesis is, wearables, totally different from the directions of phones and computers, should be fashion, soft-goods, or familiar accessories. Introducing emerging technologies through the lens of fashion and familiar goods will increase their social acceptance and accelerate their wide adoption to the public. Instead of some sleek technological contraption, it could be a hat or a scarf - something that’s allowed to build up a patina, an identity, and an emotional significance for its owner. The gesture of taking a pipe or a cigar creates the person’s distinct charisma; wearing a headphone, even it’s heavy, is a personal manifesto; sunglasses and eyeglasses are not only vision aid, but also stylish accessories that reflect one’s individuality and add filters to the world.
One step further, AR is just visual and audio augmentation, artists have experimented in the past even without a screen: animal superpower, the view of a giant, third eye observe your self like in video game, watch see-level rise right in front of your eyes.
Hotgun formed plastic
Smart Tint, programed to be transparent/opaque according to the rythym of breath.
The first surface mirror reflect phone screen to the fresnel lens, which is basically a magnifying glass, and also to adjust the focus to near eye. Then the light is reflected through the half mirror, through which you can see both the real and the virtual world.
Folable mechanism design
Many iterations to get the parameters right
Now it's foldable with the right angle & length
The transformative structure makes it easy to put on and take off
Unity C# and Arduino code, communicate through wifi
The Arduino set up a server, the Unity is the client.
Another ESP266 add in as a client
Composite, fabric + Epoxy to make the scarf stiffer
So it can remain the soft feeling but can hold up the weight of a phone as well.
Selecctively apply Epoxy with finger
Try to make it both functional and somehow fashionable
Measured and tested on myself
Cure faster with higher temperature, so add a lamp
I designed it to have a FTDI connecting the ESP8266 Wifi module, a 3-pin header connecting to the sensors, and a 3-pin header connecting to Neopixel lights. The pin to sensors is where plug and play of different sensors happens. I'm using ATTiny44. The ESP create a server, and talk to its client - Unity/iPhone.
Add lights as visual expansion
Mold the sensors for the toolkit
Mill the base
Fit the lens to the right angle
On my head
Phone Screen Record
Shader react to sensor
As an ongoing project, I'll always come back to update this website. Currently the sensors are able to plug & play and wirelessly talk to the phone and lights, the visualization of the Shaders react according to sensor data. The lenses are folable, their distance, angle, and sizes are carefully measured, but the way they are fixed on the scarf/hat is terrible. The next milestone will be the end of this winter break.
Help build and run the homebrew Fablab with Honghao
(And spent too much time on debugging our own machine..)
Zillions of thanks to Neil, Rob, the TAs and everyone in this class!