Category Archives: Wearables

Bring the weather forecast to your Chucks


Hack a pair of Converse using an Adafruit FLORA, NeoPixels and a Bluetooth LE module that relays weather data from your phone.


San Francisco-based creative studio Chapter, in collaboration with Converse, have hacked a pair of Chuck Taylors to bring the forecast to your feet.

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The Converse Beacon consists of an Adafruit FLORA board (ATmega32U4), a Bluefruit LE module and a NeoPixel ring, which together, can alert you to custom weather conditions through IFTTT. In other words, your sneaks can let you know when rain is coming, when the surf is just right, or when conditions are perfect to take a stroll outside. Talk about walkin’ on sunshine!

What’s more, you’re not just limited to weather. Once you’ve connected IFTTT to the Adafruit channel, you open the door to hundreds of possible recipes that link various inputs to your NeoPixels.

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Think you want to relay data from your smartphone to create stylish alerts on your Chucks? Then check out Chapter’s full project write-up on Hackster.io.

The Ski Buddy is a FLORA-powered coat that teaches you to ski


A DIY wearable system that can make learning to ski fun for kids.


As anyone who has ever hit the slopes will tell you, learning to ski can be quite challenging — especially for youngsters. Tired of seeing children be screamed at by parents trying to teach them to ski, Maker “Mkarpawich2001” decided to develop a wearable system that would make the process much more enjoyable for kids.

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The Ski Buddy is an electronic jacket that helps novice skiers through the use of lights. Based on an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), the coat is equipped with an accelerometer, a AAA battery pack, and conductive thread that connects to LED sequins.

“Knowing that childhood memorizes can unintentionally affect our adult lives, I sought out to come up with a tool to help making the process of learning to ski fun for kids at young ages,” the Maker writes. “Of course, all children love light-up toys, so why not transfer that love to learning? With changeable settings, you can use this coat for a variety of lessons.”

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According to Mkarpawich2001, the Ski Buddy can be used to teach linking turns, parallel skiing, hockey stops and even gradual pizza stopping (the act of pointing your skis together and pushing your heels out to form what looks like a slice of pizza).

The lights will flash once to suggest that they are working, and then guide the user along the desired path, including direction, speed and stops. While on the slopes, instruction is provided via the LEDs, depending on the particular lesson. For instance, alternating lights can let a person know to slow down, or when turned off, can mean they’re going the right way.

You can see it in action below, and head over to its page here. Those looking for a more commercial solution should check out Carv.

 

 

Check the time on an ATtiny 85 ring watch


One ring to rule them all, one ring to tell time!


Watches come in all shapes and sizes, but this DIY ring watch featuring the ATtiny85 is quite a feat of miniaturization! It’s based on two previous posts by Maker Chen Liang, explaining how the watch guts work on a breadboard and how he put a similar design together in a more traditional wrist watch. As he had to use a smaller battery than the breadboard version in his ring, he expects battery life to be around half a year.

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The ring’s ATtiny85 was programmed using a Digispark (as outlined here), and the device’s circuit was set up on three tiny boards for physical flexibility. The circuit board sections included one for the chip, another for the display, and another for three tightly-spaced buttons. These buttons were able to share one analog input pin on the tinyAVR MCU by using a clever technique involving resistors across two of the button circuits. The three buttons were wired into an analog input, giving different voltage reading depending on the button pushed. Since the ATtiny85 could differentiate between these readings, only one pin was needed for control.

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The watch band was 3D-printed, and covered with a clear thermoplastic layer. Although impressive by itself, Liang has plans to “research sync time method, GPS, Wi-Fi + Internet, BLE + mobile phone, and more.” Maybe we’ll see this project expand to a variety of rings that can be worn and linked via Bluetooth depending on what is needed in a particular situation. Do we sense a Kickstarter? In the meantime, check out the Maker’s entire build here.

 

KeKePad is an ATmega32U4-powered wearables platform


KeKePad is a plug-and-play platform that replaces conductive thread with tiny connectors and thin cables.


Like most Makers, Michael Yang enjoyed using the Arduino Lilypad for his wearable and e-textile projects. However, he discovered that conductive thread has a few drawbacks: it is expensive, it has no insulation and its resistance is quite high. Plus, in order to achieve a tight connection, the wires need to be soldered (which means that it becomes rather difficult to remove if there are any mistakes).

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So, as any DIY spirited individual would do, he set out to solve this problem. The result? KeKePad, a new modular platform that’s 100% compatible with the Arduino LilyPad USB and can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. The board is based on the ATmega32U4 — the same chip that can be found at the heart of the wildly popular Adafruit FLORA — and features built-in USB support, so it can be easily connected to a PC. Like other wearable MCUs, the controller boasts a familiar round shape (which measures 50mm in diameter) along with 12 tiny three-pin Ke Connectors and 11 sew tab pins.

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What really sets the platform apart, though, is its unique wiring and connection method. The KeKePad entails a series of small sewable modules that link together via the Ke Connectors and special cables, or Ke Cables, with crimp terminals. This eliminates the frustration often associated with using conductive thread. With a diameter of only 0.32mm, the wire is extremely flexible, super thin and coated in Teflon.

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At the moment, there are approximately 20 different modules to choose from, including sensors for detecting light, UV, sound, barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, and acceleration, as well as actuator modules for things such as LEDs, MP3s, OLED displays and vibrating buzzers.

Intrigued? Head over to KeKePad’s Indiegogo campaign, where Yang and his team are currently seeking $2,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

Digital audio recording “you” with quality and ease


Instamic wants to do for microphones what the GoPro did for cameras. 


Many analog years ago, digital recorded audio won the popularity contest. Nowadays, whether it’s from your mobile phone, infotainment system or personal audio device, every sound you hear is from digitally encoded bits.

Digital audio has eliminated all of the analog audio’s distortions and noise-related problems. Quite simply, people are shaped and drawn to recorded audio, ranging from music producers, to creative artist, to the everyday consumer. It’s in these moments for the user, high-quality audio conveys clarity in the recording moments. In today’s user interfaces, from media and podcasts to tablets, many whizzing bits are streaming a world of information including audio — readily available at every reach of a finger or ear.

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More and more, we are seeing the prolific expansion and seamless integration of the stack. What does this all mean, though? Screen time now captivates us, while voice recognition and audio are blended into the user pathways of UX. Spurring from technology, we see popular apps like Evernote and iOS/Android natively adopting audio recording right within its inherent interface. These apps are taking in the voice user input to also drive UX — cleverly weaving experience, intention, outcome, commenting and moments.

Almost every sound you hear coming out of a speaker is digitally sampled and encoded.  Moment upon moment of keynotes stored are recorded more, albeit in the format of video or audio, we are seeing an increasing number of unique use cases to why one would want to capture a particular moment. These moments offer an on-demand periscope — referencing a historic timeline of ripples in our experience, memory, and journey through work, life, play, and what matters most to us.

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For much of our pleasures, sound is always in digital — whether it’s on your smartphone, computer, radio, television, home theater or in a concert hall. Today, across many electronic devices, audio recording is integral transition to many advanced features applied toward enhancing old ways of doing things. Just take a look at visual voicemail, and how recording voicemails took the next leap once UX and advance playback was offered. Visual and digital voice recording meshed with non-linear play, took voice playback to the next level. I’d go so far as to point out that most people never hear analog recordings anymore.

Unless you’re a musician, or live with one, virtually all the music you hear live or recorded is digital. We now see the integration of audio and voice recording into all forms of day-to-day activity. Audio with depth is helping bring back some of those analog qualities where the shape and length of a sound wave can be more defined by bit depth and bit sampling rate. With these 24-bit audio embedded designs and digital audio recordings, we can also achieve better sound quality more akin to what our ear can register and decode, help bringing forth the finer granular details of high fidelity. But it’s not all about just emitting fidelity via the digital audio recording. The use cases and need to record audio, albeit ourselves or surrounding interactions, is helpful for many use cases (musician during creative process, senior suffering stages of memory loss, students seeking catalog of lectures, author recalling and commenting wiring plots during writing process, etc.)lectures and applications for audio recording
Why does bit depth matter, you ask? Bit depth refers to the number of bits you have when a device is capturing audio. Below is a graph showing a series of levels in how bit depth works. There are 65,536 possible levels for 16-bit audio. As for 24-bit, there are 16,777,216 levels. Now, let’s see how the depth is explained. The capturing of audio can be sliced in partitions at any moment in time such as shown in this  graph. To move to higher resolution in audio, every bit added counts toward greater resolution. The deeper the bit depth, the number of levels stack greater audio information, layering richer context to the profile of the audio being recorded. Altogether, what’s said describes a segment of audio frozen in a single slice or moment of time.

The second integral “high quality” factor is called sample rate. Together, bit depth and sample rate complete the higher resolution audio model. The sample rate represents the number of times your audio is measured or “sampled” per second. The typical standard for CDs, the sample rate is 44.1 kHz or 44,100 slices every second.
bit depth and sample rate explained

Digital audio eliminated all of analog audio’s distortions and noise-related problems. In that sense digital is “perfect.” When analog recordings are copied, there are significant generation-to-generation losses, added distortion and noise; digital-to-digital copies are perfect clones. Some recording engineers believe digital doesn’t have a sound per se, and that it’s a completely transparent recording medium. Analog, with its distortions, noise and speed variations imparts its own sound. Arguably, perfect, it is not. This is why high resolution in audio paired with the best form factor and ease and usability go hand in hand.

As to whether digital composes sounds with better quality than analog, that’s merely a moot point. Digital audio recording and its very nature of having the ability to slice into segments and layer, then import into other applications and change into enhanced or analyzed into wave forms has been remarkable and pivotal for many industries. In fact, we now see results of digital audio having a significant impact when having the ability to vector to angular and distinct wave form shapes as to help identify voices and interpret intelligent voice recognition. These encoding factors coupled with deep learning programmatic layers are ushering in a new era of digital interpretation and digital recognition.Instamic-every-day-use
Despite such a proposal of questionable technical and audible merits, founder of Instamic Michelle Baggio apparently moved ahead with the idea and recently launched a well-funded Indiegogo campaign for a new audio and player designed to revive factors of instant usability and simplicity that has been squeezed out of digital recording. Thoughts and experience can now be easily captured or reduced to a series of moments, but it is in this very reason for being captured that one can traverse thoughts by memorable experience to episode, so we as users can stitch what’s most meaningful to formulate a mosaic of audio recordings to help serve a purpose.  Whether it’s for applications in medical, academics, business, music or film, the list goes on and on… even a victim of memory impairment can find good use for Instamic.

Instamic isn’t just an ordinary microphone. It happens to be the smartest, smallest and most affordable digital audio recorder that is also easy to operate, combining usability with the smartphone. It attained over 2,500+ backers and crowdfunding exceeding 539% its original campaign goal. With that many backers and goals funded beyond expectations, there are good market/application factors yielding wider acceptance and adoption of more and more of these audio recording tools. Instamic can function as the day-to-day voice logging tool of choice.go-pro-likeness-recording-revolution
We have now leaped into the “Recording Revolution.” GoPro had an effect on the video revolution, opening up a periscope and view into so many never before seen vantage points. Previously, only a number of people had access to seeing. Adventures and passions of people, shared from around the world into showcases for all to experience what they had seen. Giving an eagle’s eye into the experience of many, providing a viewport into those that would never have seen amazing video capture. The recording revolution is upon us and will grow. Instamic is a mic build and made for everyone. Not only is this recording device at 24-bit, the sample rate matches industry high resolution standards at 96khz sample rate. That’s right, based on the aforementioned bit sampling description, that puts the recording at high resolution of 96,000 slices of audio sampled per second.

Instamic Pro and Instamic

Instamic records at 96khz/24-bit, having both mono and dual-mono while its Pro version even boasts stereo recording. This simple but advance digital recorder features omnidirectional polar pattern. Omnidirectional polar pattern records and performs ideally based on its small form factor. A peek inside reveals the architecture of quickly including minimal-phase digital filtering, zero-feedback circuitry, one of the “best sounding” DAC -nabled chips available with dual 2Msps, 12-bit DAC and analog comparator, and an all-discrete output buffer.

Instamic has the ideal form factor — it’s tiny and can be virtually attached to anything. As a standalone recorder, given the right price and origin of this idea, it can very well replace conventional handheld and lavaliere microphones. Packed with mounting options (magnet, velcro and tape) and a quick release clip, the super portable gadget can register hours of 48khz/24-bit sound in mono and dual mono mode, as well as in stereo quality with its Pro variant. A built-in, rechargeable battery allows for roughly four hours of uncompressed audio recording, with duration varying slightly depending on charge time, temperature and storage conditions.

Instamic has a frequency response of 50 to 18,000Hz. Try doing this with current smartphones or other devices, and batteries will drain quick. Then, recording is sensitive having a frequency response of 50 to 18,000Hz. Instamic crams big recording power into a small form factor which is highly usable because it can be tucked into anything. Simplicity seems to always rule the day especially when it comes to electronic devices looking to shape or better the way we do things in a day to day basis. What the GoPro did for cameras, this gadget wants to do for microphones.

What the GoPro did for cameras, this gadget wants to do for microphones

Given its compact design and minimal setup, Instamic is the perfect accessory for filmmakers, journalists and musicians as they will no longer need to lug around all that bulky, obtrusive equipment. Eliminating the need for cables, the wearable unit connects to its accompanying app over Bluetooth and enables users to control it remotely within a 30-foot radius, as well as simultaneously record with multiple Instamics. What’s more, the mic has been designed with the latest Atmel | SMART SAM 70S MCU, comprising 2GB to 8GB internal memory.

Turning on the pocket-sized device requires a single tap of its logo, while another touch will begin the recording. From there, Instamic will automatically adjust the gain on its own in the first 10 seconds and will ensure that it remains at the optimal level. Tap and hold again for a second and it will stop. If paired with a smartphone, Instamic can also be controlled through its app. When a user needs to transfer a recording to their desktop, its microUSB charging port doubles as the file transfer system. Instamic comes in two models: Pro and Go. The Pro version’s waterproof, black shell makes it a suitable instrument for indoor filming sets, darker environments and even in five feet of water. Meanwhile, the splash-resistant, white Instamic exterior of the Go can remain inconspicuous in most bright, day-lit settings. Both can camouflage easily with custom design covers and handle the most windy conditions wearing Instamic Windshield.Easy USB Charging and 4 hour use and recording
How is this being done inside? Intrigued? You can head over to its Indiegogo page to delve a bit deeper. This Bay Area-based startup has already met its crowdfunding goals and now quickly developing their products with the Atmel SMART | SAM S70, a high-performance ARM Cortex-M7 core-based MCU running up to 300MHz. The MCU comes with analog capability, fitting 12-bit ADCs of up to 24 channels with analog front end, offering offset error correction and gain control, as well as hardware averaging up to 16-bit resolution. SAM S70 also includes 2-channel, 2Msps, 12-bit DAC.

But that’s not all. It’s combined with high-capacity memory with up to 2MB Flash and 384kB SRAM and DSP encoding capabilities (DSP functionality that can be further grown into its roadmap). DSP features can be broadly extended well into its product roadmap. Even more is to happen, inclusive in the roadmap is the SAM S70 MCU doing the encoding and decoding of the audio signals, enhanced with its ability to process deterministic code execution and truly expand on the stereo quality functionality packed with Omnidirectional polar pattern, providing the best quality mapping and single processing for an mcu, outputting workhorse processing power of an MPU.  This 32-bit ARM Cortex M7 processor also features a floating point unit (FPU).  Now with quality mapped to bit depth and bit sampling, the number crunching math required to compute an enormous layers of bits is astounding

The FPU further bolsters high quality audio by executing float point processing to render audio temporarily in a 32 bit floating point format. The recorders will render audio temporarily while the extra bits are added onto the file after recording to allow generous headroom for audio mathematics in the digital domain in memory.  Before the file is output it will go through the 24 bit converters. “Floating point” scales the decimal point in a calculation and processing even more so. Furthermore, having 32 rather than 24 registers for calculations is going to render increasingly accurate result. With strings of only 24 numbers, it would be theoretically impossible to allow for other extensive calculations. Yet, when the data hits the 24-bit converter 8 bits are “truncated” or cut off.  The said mathematical result is simply more accurate and as a result, we get high resolution output of the audio.

Instamic’s MEMS microphones offer a breakthrough innovation in sound sensing. Having sound recorded with an omnidirectional microphone response (similar to sound studio environments) is generally considered to be a perfect sphere in three dimensions. The smallest diameter gives the best omni-directional characteristics at high frequencies. Yes, indeed there’s always something new to learn. This is the compelling reason that makes the MEMS microphone the best mmni-directional microphone. Industry wise, MEMS microphones are entering new application areas such as voice-enabled gaming, automotive voice systems, acoustic sensors for industry and security applications, and medical telemetry. What was once unthinkable early on, the unique construction of the MEMs microphone combined with performance and form factor make it all possible.

Instamic Pro Features and Functionality

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MEMS Microphone Specifications

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Recorder Specifications

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Frequency Response Specifications

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Comparison Specifications

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Comparisons at Scale

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Once again, Instamic originally stems from the well-funded pool of contributing patrons. The community has supported and validated this product’s potential for an ideal application to market fit. With this said, the demand is real. Shoot for the stars, right? Powered by Atmel’s latest Cortex-M7, Instamic is looking to become a household name when it comes to capturing high-quality sound anywhere, at anytime, on anything.

T8 is the world’s first wearable instrument that records, performs and remixes music


Designed for musicians, DJs and live performers, Remidi’s wearable MIDI controller that turns your hand into a whole new type of instrument.


Tapping your fingers to the rhythm of your favorite songs on a desk, table or even your steering wheel can help pass time while at work, in class or stuck in traffic. But how much cooler would it be if you could turn your hand into an actual, fully-functional musical instrument? That was the idea behind Austin-based startup Remidi’s latest wearable device, T8.

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T8 is a MIDI controller that allows you to command a wide range of digital music with your hands. The system consists of two parts: a sensor-laden glove and an embedded wristband that wirelessly sync to a laptop or mobile device running music creation software.

The bracelet includes a pair of select buttons (to hit play/pause, choose between modes, etc.) and a knob on top for scrolling through note or chord sets, samples and parameters. Housed inside the band is an accelerometer for detecting mid-air gestural controls and expressive pitch bends, as well as an ATmega32U4 and Bluetooth 4.0 module for communication with any laptop, PC, smartphone or tablet. There’s also an RGB LED and a 110mAh battery, which boasts a life of around five to 10 hours and can be recharged via microUSB in about a half an hour.

“The controller also has the ability to sense the physical movements of your wrist and arms. Rotate your wrist to distort your audible output using any effect, or move it up and down to cause a reverberation,” Remidi writes. “The circular dial, located on the top of the T8’s controller, allows you to program another complete set of notes, so with a twist of the dial, you can instantly flip to an entirely new note-set.”

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The wristband magnetically links to a snug-fitting Spandex glove, which is home to eight pressure sensitive trigger zones — one in each of the fingers, another in the thumb and the rest in the palm area. These ‘skeleton’ sensors are made of human-friendly PET and TPU, along with proprietary smart textile components. According to its creators, “no other ‘musical glove’ can come close to the T8’s electronic sensitivity and physical durability.”

Users can configure each sensor to trigger samples, notes or presets when the sensor hits any surface, which enables you to control up to 16 different sounds with one hand. For instance, you can sound a kick drum with your thumb or use you palm to bring in a hi-hat and snare. Additionally, the pressure sensitivity of the sensors can be defined by the user and the T8 knows exactly when — and at what pressure — you’re pushing the palm of your hand against a surface as well as how soft or hard you’re putting two or more sensors together.

To get started, simply out your T8, sync it to your mobile device and begin jamming right there on the spot. Based on percussion algorithms, the T8 can sense when any one of the eight sensors makes contact with a desk, wall, subway seat, car window, yourself or another human, and triggers the corresponding, programmed sound to play. In fact, did you know it only takes one hand to record the instrumentals for 2Pac’s California Love?

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Meanwhile, an accompanying app lets users customize functionality and configure the system; however, Remidi’s controller even integrates with third party music software and digital audio workstations, like Ableton Live, Animoog, GarageBand or any other program that supports MIDI.

Does this sound (no pun intended) like the MIDI controller for you? Then head over to T8’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Remidi crew is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for September 2016. Speaking of wearable instruments, you can get a little Fancy with DrumPants, too!

Carv is a wearable that helps you ski better


This Atmel-powered system analyzes motion and pressure data to give skiers real-time feedback on how to improve.


Throughout the world, approximately 120 million people will hit the slopes each year. This doesn’t include the countless others who are dying to learn how to ski either. Whether a novice or professional or somewhere in between, how cool would it be to have a coach that could be right there with you trail after trail? Well, UK-based startup MotionMetrics has come up with the perfect solution.

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Meet Carv, a digital ski coach that combines a wearable device and a smartphone app with intuitive analysis algorithms to help you improve your technique. Inspired by Olympic technology, Carv gives you access to the feedback and knowledge that only elite skiers have had access to so far.

Carv itself is comprised of two parts. The first is a wearable that attaches to a ski boot, while the second is a ~1mm insert that’s actually placed inside the boot. All the data is then analyzed through an accompanying mobile app, which allows skiers to receive feedback on their performance either on-screen or in real-time, through earphones or heads-up displays. And for more sophisticated athletes, Carv can automatically synchronize video from your GoPro with the data, enabling instructors and coaches to scrutinize the footage alongside the overlaid information.

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The solution employs a series of sensors, hidden under the boot liners. Each sensor unit packs 48 independent pressure sensors, meant to pick up even the most minute changes in the pressure distribution, along with an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer that provides Carv with information related to the motion and orientation of the skis. Communication is handled by Bluetooth Low Energy.

The sensor unit is powered and controlled by the boot-mounted Carv trackers, which serve as the brains of the system. These trackers are responsible for coordinating data collection, performing calculations for pressure and motion at high frequencies (220Hz), and overseeing wireless communication with the smartphone.

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As high-tech of a platform Carv may be, you’ll barely notice that it’s even there. Inspired from current snow sports wear accessories such as customized insoles and boot warmers, the smart insert is super thin and can be slipped in without affecting the way you ski. What’s more, the Carv tracker can be quickly and easily clipped and unclipped whenever it needs to be charged (via USB).

“The idea for Carv began when I was looking at how recording and analysis of data can help people do things better during my PhD. It was an academic problem that got out of hand,” founder Jamie Grant explains. “Coming from a physics background, I was particularly interested in the telemetry side of things – looking at how you can measure movement. Then, whilst studying for a PhD in financial statistics, I worked on the data analysis side – what can you actually do with those measurements once you’ve recorded them? As a keen skier myself, I soon started applying this to my experience on the slopes.”

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Grant and his team had a secured a place at HAX, an exclusive hardware accelerator in Shenzhen. With this mentorship, the MotionMetrics crew was not just able to bring their idea to life, but to further develop their unique pressure and motion sensing system that can now measure metrics like weight distribution. Ultimately, this development helps users spot common mistakes such as leaning too heavily on a turn, an action that can slow the skier down, or even worse, cause cranes.

Sound like the 24/7 coach you’ve been looking for? Race over to Carv’s Kickstrater campaign, where the team of PhD students from the University of Imperial College London is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in November 2016, just in time for next year’s snow season.