Wearable Requirements

Most people who know me know I’m absolutely in love with wearable computing. I’m in love with it to the point of wanting to go to grad school to work with them after I get my Electrical Engineering degree.

It recently came to my attention that I may have nearly everything needed for a good step in the right direction.

The ideal wearable is modular, as the equipment available changes all the time. When I’m sitting down at a trusted computer with my wearable, I don’t want to rely on a tiny display or auditory output. I want to be able to interact with my data on the dual 19 inch LCDs.

I need to be able to

  • send and receive email
  • browse the web
  • instant messaging
  • make and view appointments and other calendar-based information
  • make and view a contacts list
  • write and read basic text documents

ON THE GO!

Now, there are a lot of reasons why it’d be good to have a head-mounted display that lets me see some computer output as well as the real world. However, there are a lot of reasons why that isn’t going to happen in the next year or two for me. I don’t have over a thousand dollars to spend on a display. This limits my options a large amount. I also don’t have the knowledge of optics required to homebrew a solution based on a cheaper display.

Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at once above and far below human society.

Neal Stephenson, “Snow Crash”
If I want these functions to be accessible on the go, I need both on-the-go input and on-the-go output. On-the-go input will be acheived with a homebrew bluetooth septambic keyer. This will be detailed in the future. On-the-go output is usually acheived with a head-mounted display. Now, there are a lot of reasons why it’d be good to have a head-mounted display that lets me see some computer output as well as the real world. However, there are a lot of reasons why that isn’t going to personally happen in the next year or two. I don’t have over a thousand dollars to spend on a display. This limits my options a large amount. I also don’t have the knowledge of optics required to homebrew a solution based on a cheaper display. The only head-mounted display options left to me are ones that would condemn me to the path of the gargoyle, something I’d really love to avoid.
An on-the-go output method that is often ignored is audio. Bluetooth headsets are not a rare sight these days. I could certainly find a fairly cheap, non-gargoyle bluetooth headset, and this would provide me with an auditory output.
Is this really possible? Could I actually interact with my computer in a usuable fashion without a DISPLAY? It looks like I can.
Enter BLINUX, a project in active development increasing the usability of Linux to the blind user.

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