DIY Wearable Computers
Here’s a neat little bit of DIY engineering. London-based freelance digital art director Dhani Sutanto has created his own wearable transit pass by gutting his public transportation pass card and implanting its electronics in a ring.
The Oyster card, as it’s called, includes an RFID chip and antenna. For his homemade ring pass, Sutanto removed the tag and antenna from the card using nail polish remover, wound the antenna loop into a smaller circle to fit his resin mold, and then cast a prototype ring. The initial version has to be removed to activate the reader, but he plans to make another version that casts the loop in the ring’s surface.
You can read a lengthy interview with Sutanto over at PSFK. He discusses the possibilities that wearable computing holds for improving a number of technology applications, and even ties in 3D printing:
“With 3D printing you can make custom products, so why can’t you store all your info on a universal ID accessory. It’s similar to how you can sign into different services using Facebook. You can basically create a unique universal ID so you’re not dependent on a plastic card manufacturer – you can customize it to be a ring, bracelet, or necklace. This device would contain all your information doesn’t depend on an Internet connection or mobile phone battery.” — Dhani Sutanto
I’m not sure which surprises me more; how easy the project was, or that mass transit authorities aren’t experimenting more with form factors beyond the traditional card. Designers have been tinkering with wearable devices for years, and Google Glasses are the latest item to gain attention. While we can stick a phone in our ear, there hasn’t been much uptake of the technology, despite development efforts that go back to the 1970s. (For some perspective, the New York Times recently ran a piece on wearables pioneer Steve Mann, who also made news recently when he was attacked by the employees of a French McDonald’s).
Perhaps DIY efforts like Sutanto’s can spur further advancements.
You can see a video of Sutanto’s project below: