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Golden-i microdisplay on show at ESC Boston

Headset PC controlled by voice
Wed Sep 23 2009, 17:06

A WEARABLE COMPUTER will let you view documents on the equivalent of a 15in SVGA screen and navigate them by moving your head as if you are looking 'round a room.

The device, called Golden-i, was demonstrated yesterday at the ESC embedded systems event in Boston, Massachusetts. It takes the form of a headset dangling a 800x600 micro-screen slightly below your eye level so that your view of your surroundings is not obscured. The idea is that you can 'snack' on information while doing other things.

golden-iAlthough the micro display is tiny, it offers a virtual 15in display - the geometry is such that looking at the screen from 2in with some crafty optics is equivalent to viewing a 15in screen on a desktop.

The screen is driven by a computer embedded in the headband, running Windows CE 6.0 on a Texas Instruments OMAP 3530 system-on-on-a-chip, which packs an ARM Cortex 8 core.

The device supports Bluetooth 2.0 and WiFi links, giving the Golden-i access to the web or local networked machines, and enabling it if necessary to act as a remote front-end to a PC running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. Golden-i can also respond to context-sensitive voice commands such as Zoom In and Zoom Out.

The Golden-i was developed by Kopin, a major supplier of heads-up displays to the US military. But it will be sold by Motorola when it goes into full production for use by people such as hospital staff and service engineers who require hands-free mobile access to information.

The response to voice commands was a little erratic in noisy show conditions, but Chris Parkinson, a member of the design team, said that array mics due to be fitted in the final version will work a lot better.

The navigation by head movement, enabled by motion sensors, worked well judging from a short try-out, though it would take some getting used to. Jeffrey Jacobsen, senior advisor on the project, said a lot of design work had gone into the optics and ergonomics of the eyepiece.

"Looking down [as you do to see the image] is the most restful position for the eye. After all we evolved to walk around with our eyes looking at the ground for obstacles."

The Golden-i will be available late next year, priced between $1,500 and $2,000. µ



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