Richard W. DeVaul
MIT Media Lab Wearable Computing Researcher
Toshiba Fellow Ph.D. Candidate, Human Design (the group formerly known as Perceptual Computing)
Alumnus of the Aesthetics and Computation Group
There are many reasons why a general-purpose, context-aware personal wearable computer makes sense. Here are only a few:
Platform development includes hardware and software. Most of these efforts are directed toward the the MIThril project. My MIThril system, pictured at the top of the page, is now my full-time wearable, and makes the previous Plug-N-Run system obsolete.
The memory glasses project is an attempt to build a proactive situation-aware reminder system based on high-bandwidth context sensing techniques.
Context aware wearable computing applications can be made simpler and more robust through the use of lightweight infrastructure, such as inexpensive infra-red or radio frequency tags.
Ari Y. Benbasat and I developed the Crystal Tag IR active tag system in the summer of 1999. The Crystal Tag system is an active IR tag system suitable for tagging areas, objects, and even people. The system is based on the Squirt board developed by Ari (a very small, low-cost design based on the PIC 12C508) and PIC code I adapted from the earlier Locust project. The result is an IR tag about the size of a quarter with a total production cost of $10 in quantities of 500 or so, including the battery which provides (in the new version) a solid two weeks of performance with a 1-second transmission duty cycle. After the initial development in '99 project languised with slightly buggy tags and busy researchers. Josh Weaver has stepped in and, working with Ari and I, developed the next version of the tag board and software which fixes all of the known problems with the old system and adds useful new features. The schematics, code, and other details for the Squirt board and Crystal Tag application really will be available through this web site soon.
The light-bulb project is an (as yet) conceptual project to explore harvesting parasitic power from buildings to power light-weight wearables-support infrastructure. The goal is to develop simple systems (in the form of a screw-in light-bulb socket, an extension cord, etc.) that plug into existing building infrastructure and power low-power devices like active tags or short-range RF network transponders. Because the power requirements are low, the light-bulb socket or extension cord which houses the parasitic device can also be used as a conventional socket or extension cord.
The USBiRX! board is a microcontroler-based USB and RS232 enabled system (it operates as a generic 4 port USB hub with the microcontroler as a 5th USB device on the hub) for multi-purpose wearable-integrated data collection and sensing. The microcontroler (a PIC16C76 clocked at 20MHz) provides 4 general-purpose A/D pins, an I2C bus, and a number of general-purpose I/O pins. The microcontroler is integrated with the USB hub interface chip, an RS232 line-level converter, and a large I2C flash or EEPROM for on-board storage. The production USBiRX! "motherboard" is a compact surface-mount design with a row of connector pins at one edge allowing a variety of custom application daughter-boards to be designed with hardware and connectors tailored for specific applications. It is intended to be used as a multi-sensor data-gathering system for low-bandwidth applications.