Discussion of HUDs

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Short discussion on currently available HUDs.

The HUDs I'd like are still reserved for the military. If you can manage to get one, they cost around $2,000. One of these is worn by Thad Starner. Steve Mann has his own custom eyewear that uses laser input into the eye and is built into a regular pair of eyeglasses. It is called the Eyetap and took over 500K to develop. Steve Mann wrote a paper about how best to manufacture, develop and wear HUDs that is the best paper to read in this area.

There are some eyepieces coming out of Korea. They are quite good, but are still of low resolution. Their main selling factor is that they are very lightweight, monocular, and snap onto one's glasses.

The main problem with all current eyewear is that it does not wirelessly transmit a signal or offer a transparent viewing screen or layer on top of reality. Rather, the wearer must deal not only with the HUD, but with the cables leading to their portable computer or mobile device.

Doing a Kickstarter might be a functional option, however the only reason MyVu Goggles are so affordable ($200-300 a pop) is that their business model was to offer portable view screens for those wishing to stay immobilized in chairs while watching television or film on their iPods or other portable devices. Because of this, they were able to make these displays en mass. Their original aim is to make monocular displays but there is simply not a large enough market for it and the R+D expense is extremely high - almost inapproachable by those not in the military sector.

There is one light on the horizon that has not been covered very much at all. If you look at the patent filings for Apple and a recent hire (approx. one year ago) there is evidence that they are researching a lightweight AR HUD. They hired one of the world's most talented wearable computing experts and have filed patents on HUD technology. It may be quite a while until this technology comes to fruition. Recall that Steve Jobs wanted to create a tablet computer almost 20 years ago and it took him that long to complete his vision with the iPad. It may take a similar amount of time to create a truly feasible heads up display.

Aside from the hardware issues, any non-monocular displays will block one's vision and lead to vertigo in the wearer. I have experimented with this myself while trying to walk around and watching moving images through my MyVu goggles. It is a sickening and unenjoyable experience. Even with a monocular display, displaying images on top of reality requires an input and processing loop that is real-time enough to display images on top of reality with minimal lag. Any lag in the input entering into one's eye can confuse the vestibular sense in one's ear, leading to a feeling of motion sickness. Steve Mann got around this by having his monocular display input the diminished or augmented reality view into his eye at a 90 degree angle. Over time, his eyes adjusted to this view of reality and he was able to function quite well. He is known to edit Wikipedia articles while walking down the street.

If you are actually interested in modding a MyVu for advanced AR functionalities, I have a friend in Germany who routinely builds bluetooth MyVu AR iPhone Arduino hacking projects in his free time. He uploads all of his images and processes to Flickr and is very welcome to work with people. He has access to a very high quality 3D printer at work if you need specific custom pieces made.

Gallery of images and examples: Steve Mann using eyetap input and processing videocamera and monocular display with an iPhone (2009) http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/5215220505/

Steve Mann and current EyeTap glasses with laser input and video processing loop: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3125979434/

How to make a super-cheap EyeTap device (iGargoyle): http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3132191055/

Here's me wearing non-monocular MyVu goggles: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronpk/5049972438/in/pool-929521@N25/

Here's a head-mounter computer with a clip-on monocular display. Pretty clunky: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lockergnome/4381025209/in/pool-929521@N25/

Here's a MicroOptical AV-1 (rare and historical - ASCII input): http://www.flickr.com/photos/56083335@N00/3038494619/in/pool-929521@N25/

Someone fully deconstructed a MyVu goggle to make a very lighweight clipon MyVu Goggle display (created by my friend in Germany): http://www.flickr.com/photos/56083335@N00/3031539501/in/pool-929521@N25/

Another image of the deconstructed MyVu goggle (from friend in Germany) http://www.flickr.com/photos/56083335@N00/3031543757/in/pool-929521@N25/

MyVu Goggle image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3145415302/in/pool-929521@N25/

Microvision kind of has this released, used for meeting notes and teleprompting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3125135031/in/pool-929521@N25/

Another, for GPS-related updates: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3125962780/in/pool-929521@N25/

Steve Mann modified MyVu goggles (I have a pair of these and recommend them) http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3121511415/in/pool-929521@N25/

PVS-14 Monocular Night Vision Device (Military) http://www.flickr.com/photos/peosoldier/3759641226/

The BEST ONE (by MicroOptical - now only available by the military) http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/4611801231/

Vuzix M920-VIDEO Monocular HUD (sold out) ($1,300) http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/4866133917/

Here's a feed from Mann's Eyeglasses showing Diminished Reality (vs. Augmented Reality) - Steve Mann's Wearcam: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/4521834460/

Historical Account of WearComp and WearCam - Steve Mann 1997: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/4510346246/

The Chirplet Transform: A Generalization of Gabor's Logon Transform by Steve Mann: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3076978480/

At Airport Gate, a Cyborg Unplugged - New York Times: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseorganic/3122465152/

Related Reading

Wearable Computing