DavidMolnar TouchPlusMyVu Experience

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I (DavidMolnar) spent a couple of hours the other day walking around my neighborhood with a jailbroken iPod Touch, ScreenSplittr, and the myvu shades. While the Touch of course only has connectivity via 802.11, I can use my phone to create a 3G-to-802.11 bridge, which works well enough as an "iphone substitute." The end result is a small 320x240 screen with connectivity in the lower field of my vision, with enough of the rest of my vision intact that I could shop at Trader Joe's, grab coffee, etc. Only walked into a wall once.

  • The two applications I focused on were baseball information and Twitter. Both of these are notifications that provide value even with partial attention. Furthermore, Apple and Major League Baseball recently began streaming video of live MLB games through the MLB iPhone app! I figured if I can put together a good enough baseball experience, I can give these glasses plus ipod touch to Dad as a belated Father's Day present. He's a huge Cubs fan.
  • The industrial design of the myvu shades is broken for this application. Most noticeable for me is that I can't focus on the screen well enough to read text and simultaneously push the shades up far enough to cover my eyes. I can work around this by leaving the glasses perched precariously on the tip of my nose, but it doesn't look good. No one mistook these for Oakleys, unlike the Zetronix camera glasses.

A second major issue is that the cable assembly connecting the iPod touch to the shades is not long enough. This causes tension in the cable, which in turn makes it hard to turn my head if the iPod is in my pocket. I eventually worked around this by placing the iPod in a shirt pocket, but that is not a permanent solution. I'll pick up an extension cable and see if it helps. Another part of this issue is that the cable assembly includes a control unit and battery for the glasses, and the battery is heavy enough by itself to tug on the glasses.

Finally, the glasses have four wires coming out of them: two earphones and one wire for each LCD eye. This is three wires too many. It's kind of nice to have integrated earphones, but all the wires complicate putting the glasses on and taking them off. The Zetronix camera glasses are significantly better here, although they have the major advantage of not displaying information.

May be even four wires too many. What's available for wireless transmission of standard definition video?

  • All that being said, the mlb.com WAP site pages for updating information about live games worked out well. I found that using the Full Screen Browser iPhone app improved on Safari in two key ways. First, it saved some screen real estate. Second, I could lock the display in landscape mode. Turns out that iPhone landscape mode feels much more "readable" than portrait with the shades viewer. Locking the display is a bit of a pain (you have to turn off the rotate lock, rotate, then reengage the rotate lock), but then it works. This is almost good enough to show to other people, but I suspect my Dad would have problems due to the text size being small.
  • Twitter clients fared less well, mainly because they tend to have text that did not work well with the 320x240 screen, becoming too small. Furthermore here the issue about needing the screen to be a little more distant became especially pronounced. The best so far are Landscape Twitter (for using landscape) and Twitterriffic Premium (for large size font).
  • A nasty surprise: ScreenSplittr will rotate the display to TV Out from landscape to portrait and vice versa, even if the application doesn't do anything to redraw for a portrait friendly orientation. This makes a lot of sense once I think about it, but it means that the orientation in the glasses changes without warning!
  • The MLB live game video plays OK, but by the same token it is shown in portrait form and not in landscape. This is the one case where I want a change of orientation to happen but it doesn't seem to notice. The ScreenSplittr frame rate is low, but on the edge of acceptable. With software actually built to use the TV Out, this problem would go away. Not good enough to ship to Dad yet.
  • Context switching requires pulling out the Touch and fiddling with it. The whole point of this is to not fiddle with the Touch. Need something new here. Maybe shaking the Touch? Maybe adding an accelerometer to the glasses to detect head shakes? Something else?
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