Google Glass will go down in history as the first pair of smart glasses to hit the consumer market and also one of the most infamous tech flops. They had some really impressive technology, but they were probably a bit ahead of their time when they first released in 2013. Privacy concerns combined with a high price tag ensured that they never really caught, but they did prove that the technology was feasible. Technically, you can still purchase an enterprise version of the Google Glass smart glasses, but nobody does. Kevin Bates has been on a quest to build smart glasses that were more hacker and wallet friendly, and the Arduglasses are the result.
As the name suggests, Bates' Arduglasses are derived from the Arduboy project. Arduboy is an open source, handheld video game console that is built around an Arduino-compatible microcontroller. That Microchip ATmega32U4 controls the Arduglasses. They also run a lot of the software developed for the Arduboy — you can even play games on these smart glasses! Unlike Google Glass, which has a single screen visible through a prism in front of one eye, the Arduglasses have a more conventional dual-screen setup. A transparent display sits in place of each of the lenses that word normally be mounted in the frame of glasses. Each display can be controlled independently, which opens up some interesting possibilities. But, for the most part, Bates is simply mirroring the displays.
The frame of the Arduglasses also doubles as the circuit boards for the electronic components. There are four individual PCBs, all of which were fabricated by OSH Park. The frames are assembled using small hinges meant for jewelry boxes. Each display “lens” is a transparent OLED screen with a standard SSD1309 driver chip. A small five-way joystick and a second button are soldered to one side of the frames so the user can operate them with their fingers. Power comes from a tiny LiPo battery back and charging is handled through a USB port. Bates points out that you can still see, even with the displays on. But even so, you probably wouldn’t want to wear Arduglasses for an extended period of time. He doesn’t have any plans to put the Arduglasses into production, but he has said that he may make the design files open source if there is enough interest from the community.
Feeling inspEYEred? Enter Bates' current DIY Arduboy contest for a chance to win a brand new Arduboy FX!