For the past several years I've been working on a wearable computer as sort of an amusing side-project. In any case, I've finally got a prototype which is powerful enough to be useful, low-key enough to use in public without being treated like a leper, power efficient enough to wear all day, and expandable enough to have headroom for experimentation. So, hey, take a look at my Evil Creation:

       For an internal view of the guts with all the major parts labeled, click on the image above for the large version with labels. A general description of the system specifications at the time of writing (I reconfigure/experiment a lot, so it may change day by day) is presented here:

WeightAbout 3 Kg
CPU:300Mhz NSC Geode
System Board:OpenBrick
RAM:256 MB
Secondary Storage:256MB Compact Flash
Battery Pack:Four 3000 mAh 7.2v NiMH packs.
Battery Life:8 Hours full use, 20 hours in suspend mode.
Display:Anubis Engineering 3rd Gen. Covert HMD
Operating System:Slackware Linux

       Over the past few days I've been sort of breaking in the system, taking a good look at how I actually use it, what I find convenient, and what needs more work. The other thing I've been observing is how people in the environment interact with me when I have the gear. Who notices? Who cares? Who asks? and what do people tend to ask when they do. I will post more on this later.

To be near invisible is a profound thing. All one must do is break the rules of the default reality just a little bit and you're most of the way there. A surprisingly large portion of the population will not see anything they do not already understand. This is a fairly reasonable response to the sensory overload that is modern life. When I strap a computer to myself and type in the pub, nobody sees me. I try to be mostly inconspicuous but the keyboard on my wrist is unavoidable. Instead of seeing the Keyboard, people don't see me at all.

It's actually quite amusing. The small portion of the people here who notice. They stare until they realize that I've noticed, then they pretend they were looking at something else as if I had some horrible deformity. I could as well be a Cyclops to those few who let themselves see. Not quite a Cyclops but maybe more like that crazy old lady on the bus who passes the time talking to herself. Go figure eh?

More random motherfuckers checking out my gear. There is something to be said for low-key, but it can also be a lot of fun to be a "cyborg ambassador" of sorts. If this is indeed the shape of the future, there needs to be an intermediate group who's function is in part to break the general public in and get them used to the idea of a computerized world.

I've noticed that most of the people who do ask tend to ask about the keyboard above all else. More women than men tend to ask in the first place. Don't know why. Most people who ask say "What's this?" touching the keyboard with the word "this". Maybe men are less likely to take that step to touch another person. Who knows.

Eventually I want to put a camera, GPS, and a hard drive and have the system take one picture every second, name it according to the GPS time/location data and save it. Then I could do a couple of very cool things:

  • Ask the computer something like "Show me what I've seen within 100 meters of the grocery store on Saturdays during the month of November" and it would have all the information needed to answer that question efficiently.
  • I could also at that point make really neat "sped up" movies of my day to day life. Every 8 hours would last 8 minutes when replayed at 60 fps. How much fun would that be? (or maybe it would just turn out to be a full day's boredom recapitulated in a span of a few minutes). Who knows.
So, when/if I get around to actually doing this, I'll post about it.

      Due to a random and unrelated eye injury, this project is on indefinite hold. I was bitten in the left eye by a rodent this past spring (spring of 2004) and received a scratch on the cornea in my left eye, and while it has mostly healed, my brain switched to be right eye dominant while it was doing so which makes using a left-eye display terminal difficult. Such is life.