Category Archives: IOT

MIT Developing a Device Can Hear Your Inner Voice #WednesdayWearables


via Wearable Technologies

Dubbed “AlterEgo,” the device resembles a jawbone hooked around the ear and attached to the user’s face between lip and chin. AlterEgo Uses a bone conduction system to hear and respond to the wearer’s internal voice via electrodes attached to the skin.

The device will efficiently fuse human and machine together, according to Arnav Kapur, who led the development team at MIT’s Media Lab. Electrodes pick up subtle neuromuscular signals that are triggered when a person verbalizes internally.

When a user says words inside their head, artificial intelligence working within the device can match particular signals to particular words, feeding them into a computer. The computer in return responds via the device using a bone conduction speaker that plays sound into the ear without the need for an earphone to be inserted. The idea is to create a seemingly silent computer interface that only the AlterEgo wearer can hear and speak to.

“We basically can’t live without our cellphones, our digital devices. But at the moment, the use of those devices is very disruptive,” said Pattie Maes, a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT. “If I want to look something up that’s relevant to a conversation I’m having, I have to find my phone and type in the passcode and open an app and type in some search keyword, and the whole thing requires that I completely shift attention from my environment and the people that I’m with to the phone itself.”

In a trial conducted on 10 people, AlterEgo managed an average of 92% transcription accuracy with about 15 minutes of customizing to each person. That pulls the device several percentage points below the 95% plus accuracy of Google’s voice transcription service. The human threshold for voice word accuracy is thought to be around 95%. Kapur said the system will improve in accuracy over time.

See and learn more!


via Adafruit

Would You Look At That Yaw Control

[Jeff Bezos] might be getting all the credit for developing a rocket that can take off and land vertically, but [Joe Barnard] is doing it the hard way. He’s doing it with Estes motors you can pick up in any hobby shop. He’s doing it with a model of a Falcon 9, and he’s on his way to launching and landing a rocket using nothing but solid propellant.

The key to these launches is, of course, the flight controller, This is the Signal flight controller, and it has everything you would expect from a small board meant to mount in the frame of a model rocket. There’s a barometer, an IMU, a buzzer (important!), Bluetooth connectivity, and a microSD card slot for data logging. What makes this flight computer different is the addition of two connectors for standard hobby servos. With the addition of a 3D printed adapter, this flight controller adds thrust vectoring control. That means a rocket will go straight up without the use of fins.

We’ve seen [Joe]’s work before, and things have improved significantly in the last year and a half. The latest update from last weekend was a scale model (1/48) of the Falcon Heavy. In a 45-second video, [Joe]’s model of the Falcon Heavy launches on the two booster rockets, lights the center core, drops the two boosters and continues on until the parachutes unfurl. This would be impressive without active guidance of the motor, and [Joe] is adding servos and launch computers to the mix. It’s awesome, and certainly unable to be exported from the US.

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In Development: A Wearable That Could Prevent Drug Users From Overdosing #WearableWednesday


via Wearable Technologies

A Vancouver, British Columbia startup is developing a device that drug users can wear on their wrist or finger to prevent drug overdose.

Around 28 people a week died of drug overdose in British Columbia last year, bringing the total to 1,448. The first three months of this year saw that number rise past 30 deaths a week, 91 per cent of them indoors and alone.

Gordon Casey and biomedical engineer Sampath Satti decided to do something about this unnatural deaths so they planned to invent a system that could help drug users from overdosing. Casey poured $50,000 of his earnings into this tech startup aimed at saving lives in the opioid crisis.

“What if there was a local alert system that, when someone is using and an overdose episode occurs, we look at the physiological changes that happen in the human body and elicit a local response?” Casey told StarMetro in an interview.

A team of engineers led by Satti are developing software for the device that is essentially a pulse monitor. With the software the device will be able to calculate users’ breathing rate based on very slight variations in their pulse. If the device detects a slow pattern of breathing it will send an alert, as slowed breathing is one of the first symptoms of an overdose.

“Heart rate does slow down eventually,” Satti said, “but by then it’s too late.”

Once a suspected overdose is detected, the device would alert either health authorities or a network of volunteers to rush to the person’s side and administer Nalaxone, an antidote used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.

Learn more!


Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!


via Adafruit

A YouTube Subscriber Counter With A Tetris Twist

When it comes to YouTube subscriber counters, there’s not much wiggle room for creativity. Sure, you can go with Nixies or even more exotic displays, but in the end a counter is just a bunch of numbers.

But [Brian Lough] found a way to jazz things up with this Tetris-playing YouTube sub counter. For those of you not familiar with [Brian]’s channel, it’s really worth a watch. He tends toward long live-stream videos where he works on one project for a marathon session, and there’s a lot to learn from peeking over his virtual shoulder. This project stems from an earlier video, posted after the break, which itself was a condensation of several sessions hacking with the RGB matrix that would form the display for this project. He’s become enamored of the cheap and readily-available 64×32 pixel RGB displays, and borrowing an idea from Mc Lighting author [toblum], he decided that digits being assembled from falling Tetris blocks would be a nice twist. [Brian] had to port the Tetris-ifying code to Arduino before getting the ESP8266 to do the work of getting the subs and updating the display. We think the display looks great, and the fact that the library is open and available means that you too can add Tetris animations to your projects.

None of this is to say that more traditional sub counters can’t be cool too. From a minimalist display to keeping track of all your social media, good designs are everywhere. And adding a solid copper play button is a nice touch too.

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An elastic fiber filled with electrodes could revolutionize smart clothes #WearableWednesday


Via Innovation in Textiles:

EPFL scientists have found a fast and simple way to make super-elastic, multi-material, high-performance fibres, which have already been used as sensors on robotic fingers and in clothing. This method opens the door to new kinds of smart textiles and medical implants, according to the team of scientists.

“It’s a whole new way of thinking about sensors,” they say. “The tiny fibres developed at EPFL are made of elastomer and can incorporate materials like electrodes and nanocomposite polymers. The fibres can detect even the slightest pressure and strain and can withstand deformation of close to 500% before recovering their initial shape. All that makes them perfect for applications in smart clothing and prostheses, and for creating artificial nerves for robots.”

Read more and check out EPFL on YouTube.


Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!


via Adafruit

Calm Down: It’s Only Assembly Language

Based on [Ben Jojo’s] title — x86 Assembly Doesn’t have to be Scary — we assume that normal programmers fear assembly. Most hackers don’t mind it, but we also don’t often have an excuse to program assembly for desktop computers.

In fact, the post is really well suited for the typical hacker because it focuses the on real mode of an x86 processor after it boots. What makes this tutorial a little more interesting than the usual lecture is that it has interactive areas, where a VM runs your code in the browser after assembling with NASM.

We really like that format of reading a bit and then playing with some code right in the browser. There is something surreal about watching a virtual PC booting up inside your browser. Yeah, we’ve seen it before, but it still makes our eyebrows shoot up a little.

We hope he’ll continue this as a series, because right now it stops after talking about a few BIOS functions. We’d love to see more about instructions, indexing, string prefixes, and even moving to code that would run under Linux or Windows. It would be nice, too, if there was some information about setting up a local environment. Now if you want to make a serious investment and you use Linux, this book is a lot to chew on but will answer your questions.

Of course, there are many tutorials, but this is a fun if brief introduction. If you want to know more about assembly outside the browser, we covered that. If you really want to write a real bootloader, there’s help for that, too.

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Refurbishing A DEC 340 Monitor

Back in the “good old days” movie theaters ran serials. Every week you’d pay some pocket change and see what happened to Buck Rogers, Superman, or Tex Granger that week. Each episode would, of course, end in a cliffhanger. [Keith Hayes] has started his own serial about restoring a DEC 340 monitor found in a scrap yard in Australia. The 340 — not a VT340 — looks like it could appear in one of those serials, with its huge cabinets and round radar-like display. [Keith] describes the restoration as “his big project of the year” and we are anxious to see how the cliffhangers resolve.

He’s been lucky, and he’s been unlucky. The lucky part is that he has the cabinet with the CRT and the deflection yoke. Those would be very difficult to replace. The unlucky part is that one entire cabinet of electronics is missing.

Keep in mind, this monitor dates from the 1960s when transistors were fairly new. The device is full of germanium transistors and oddball silicon transistors that are unobtainable. A great deal of the circuitry is on “system building block” cards. This was a common approach in those days, to create little PC boards with a few different functions and build your circuit by wiring them together. Almost like a macro-scale FPGA with wire backplanes as the programming.

Even if some of the boards were not missing, there would be some redesign work ahead. The old DEC machine used a logic scheme that shifted between ground and a negative voltage. [Keith] wants to have a more modern interface into the machine so the boards that interface with the outside world will have to change, at least. It sounds like he’s on his way to doing a modern remake of the building block cards for that reason, and to preserve the originals which are likely to be difficult to repair.

The cliffhanger to this first installment is a brief description of what one of the system building block cards looks like. The 1575 holds 8 transistors and 11 diodes. It’s apparently an analog building block made to gate signals from the monitor’s digital to analog converters to other parts of the circuit. You’ll have to tune into the next episode to hear more of his explanation.

If you want to read about how such a thing was actually used, DECUS had a programming manual that you can read online. Seeing the round monitor made us think of the old PDP-1 that lives at the Computer History Museum. We are sure it had lots of practical uses, but we think of it as a display for Spacewar.

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