Someday humans and computers will meld together to create cyborgs. But instead of waiting for it, Martin Magnusson, a Swedish researcher and entrepreneur, has taken the first step and created a wearable computer that can be slung across the body.
Magnusson has hacked a pair of head-mounted display glasses and combined it with a homebrewed machine based on a open source Beagleboard single computer. Packed into a CD case and slung across the shoulder messenger-bag style, he is ready to roll.
A computer is a window to the virtual world, says Magnusson.
"But as soon as I get up and about, that window closes and I'm stuck within the limits of physical reality," he says. "Wearable computers make it possible to keep the window open. All the time."
Magnusson's idea is interesting though one step short of integrating a machine inside the body. In 2008, a Canadian film maker Rob Spence decided to embed a tiny video camera into his prosthetic left eye. Spence who is still working on the project hopes to someday record everything around him as he sees it and lifecast it.
For his wearable computer, Magnusson is using a pair of Myvu glasses that slide on like a pair of sunglasses but have a tiny video screen built into the lens. A Beagleboard running Angstrom Linux and a Plexgear mini USB hub that drives the Bluetooth adapter and display forms the rest of this rather simple machine. Four 2700 mAh AA batteries are used to power the USB hub. Magnusson has used a foldable Nokia keyboard for input and is piping internet connectivity through Bluetooth tethering to an iPhone in his pocket.
Magnusson says he wants to use the wearable computer to "augment" his memory.
"By having my to-do list in the corner of my eye, I always remember the details of my schedule," he says.
Check out photos of his gear:
The innards of the homebrewed machine are glued to a CD case. The CD case is slung across the shoulder by attaching it to a strap using velcro.
By Priya Ganapati