Wearables Final Project: Fog glasses

For my final project, I decided to explore the topic of body image by creating a pair of glasses that will block the user’s vision if it detects a mirror. My inspiration came from my personal experience and conversations with other friends surrounding body image. Growing up, I never felt confident about my appearance, and now, I realize that it’s not just me that’s having that internal conflict. Is it our own perception that is affecting how we view ourselves? I want to investigate the relationship between our perception/vision and our body image and see if we would pay less attention to our physical appearance if the visual element is taken out.

So, I started brainstorming how I’d make this happen. First, to detect if someone is standing in front of a mirror, I’ll need a motion detector. I immediately thought about infrared sensors because they offer the ability to record motion. Next, I found a smart film material that will fog up when there’s no current running through the circuit. Although it costs $20 for just a 6-by-6-inch piece, it’s a sleek and convenient way to fog up the glasses.

So, I listed out my shopping list:

  • IR sensors (break beam, normal, and PIR for testing)
  • Circuit Playground Express
  • Smart film
  • Battery pack
  • Conductive materials

With all the materials laid out, I created a simple sketch:

After receiving the IR sensors, I tested them out to see if they could detect motion with the signal being reflected through the mirror. I found that the IR break beam sensor works the best since it’s simple to set up and gives quick feedback compared to the normal IR reciever+transmitter, which needs to be decoded. The PIR sensor works in this case as well, but it’s detecting all movements in front of the sensor, which isn’t what I intended to do.

Just as I thought everything is going to go smoothly (which is never the case), I realized that the smart film material actually runs on AC power, despite being powered with two AA batteries.

I reached out to Kit and was suggested that I can try to power it with a transistor circuit or a relay unit to convert the AC power to DC.

So I whipped out my transistor circuit and plugged the smart film in, and of course, nothing was happening. Then I tried using a relay unit, which was a bit more complicated than I thought. At this point, I started thinking about my plan B, because I thought that even if I get the relay working, I’d have to figure out a way to hide all the wires and hardware.

I decided to switch to plan B, which is to use two pieces of fog material powered by servo motors to block the vision. This solution is much more manageable and pretty easy to code.

In my code, I set the two motors to the opening angle when the break beam is broken (not standing in front of a mirror). When the break beam connects, the servos will rotate to the closing angle. After testing out the circuit and made sure it was working as intended, I started replacing the connections with conductive materials.

I suddenly realized that I need a detachable connection so the user can put on the glasses without having to disconnect the circuit. I took a look at my inventory and found some velcros. I sketched out this design which I think is going to solve the problem:

So the two pieces of velcros will be lined with conductive tapes, and when the two pieces close, the connection will resume without disturbing the wiring on the board. Then, I found that the velcro is too narrow for three lines of tape and it was not stable enough to stay on my head. So it was obvious to me that I have to either figure out another connection or reduce the number of tapes on the velcro.

I asked Kit if I could connect these wires without having to isolate all of them, and was told that it’s totally possible as long as I’m not crossing the 3.3V connection with the ground, which would cause a short. I quickly fixed my design and made a much simpler connection using the same velcros.

For the other side, I used some conductive tapes with another clear tape on the outside to prevent the wires from touching each other.

Before I put the glasses on, I tested out the connection one more time:

With everything working, I put on the glasses and tested them out in front of my mirror in the bathroom.

Final video:

When I’m facing the camera, the connection is broken and the glasses open up, and when I turn to the mirror, it will close down. You can see the sensor status on the serial monitor on the right.

This was definitely a challenging but fun project. I went through so many different issues and I’m satisfied with how it turned out eventually. In the future, I want to make the velcro design more stable and continue to try to get the smart film working. Looking back at the design now, I realized that I could have designed it as a visor or something that’s much bigger on the face so that I have more space to hide my sensors and wires.



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