A group of researchers from Nokia and a number of universities have designed a gadget that has the same benefits of Google Glass, while eradicating the need to wear them around one’s face. The gadget, which is tethered to an Epson Android computer and an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168), provides an eye-level display for quick, discreet access.
Loupe is described by its creators as a novel interactive device with a near-eye virtual display similar to head-up display glasses that retains a handheld form factor, while having the capability of gaining access to information feeds.
“We present our hardware implementation and discuss our user interface that leverages Loupe’s unique combination of properties. In particular, we present our input capabilities, spatial metaphor, opportunities for using the round aspect of Loupe, and our use of focal depth. We demonstrate how those capabilities come together in an example application designed to allow quick access to information feeds,” the team wrote in its report.
With its cylindrical shape, the lipstick tube-sized gadget can be held up to one’s eye when a user wants to check their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and such. When not in use, the device can easily be stowed away in a pocket or worn like a pendant necklace.
The Loupe prototype is comprised of several components, such as a micro-display obtained from Epson Moverio BT-100 binocular head-up display. The team reveals that they disassembled the Epson glasses, discarded its optics and housing, and then extracted one of the LCDs and associated LED backlight. The LCD is a 0.52-inch color display with a resolution of 960 x 540. The front of the display uses simple magnifying optics. For the current prototype, the researchers used a jeweler’s loupe in order to take advantage of its level of magnification.
Loupe was devised with a numerous sensors for input, including an ATmega168-based Arduino Pro Mini used to collect and preprocess sensor data that is then forwarded to the Android control box of the Epson Moverio.
The handheld creation also features nine DOF motion sensing with a 3-axis accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope from Sparkfun. Using a sensor fusion algorithm, this data provides the orientation of the device. Additionally, an infrared proximity sensor is placed on the end next to the optics to determine when the device is placed in front of the user’s eye.
Listed as one of its primary objectives, the device allows quick access to notifications and information feeds that the user may be interested in any time of the day, ranging from social media updates to the latest news. When a new piece of information comes into the Loupe, the display begins to blink as a way to notify the user. Of course, this notification alert from the device occurs only when it is not in use or in an idle stage.
“There will likely be several different types of devices that will offer different technical capabilities and be useful for different purposes. Loupe represents a point somewhere between a phone, a smart watch, and glasses, and there are probably many more devices to be explored,” explained Yahoo Labs Principal Research Scientist Kent Lyons.
While much of the current interest in wearable technology is centered around smartwatches, activity tracking wristbands, and smart glasses, Lyons believes that the market will expand over time. And, as the segment matures, you can bet Atmel’s versatile MCUs will be smack dab in the middle of these platforms and devices.