Version 15

    Wearable Tech

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    You may be familiar with superhero costumes that go beyond simple disguises. Using electronic components you can design an outfit that can give you special abilities such as a costume that uses an accelerometer to detect speed, magnetometer to detect orientation, a microcontroller to act as the brains, and speakers to produce sounds like punches and kicks.  Projects such as these make great Halloween costumes.


    Here's an example of a SuperHero Costume from The Ben Heck Show:


    Ben Heck's Superhero Wearables
    Superhero Wearables Part 1: Development Episode Superhero Wearables Part 2: Assembly Episode

    When you think of Superhero you think of people that wear costumes to mask their super human abilities.  But every super hero has their vulnerabilities...  Some of these superheroes must overcome obstacles over many things we take for granted.  Daredevil relies on heightened senses to makeup for his loss of his sight,  Professor Xavier relies on telepathic and psychic power to battle villains from his wheelchair, and Tony Stark uses a metal suit to sustain his weak heart and become Iron Man.  Each one of these superheroes is a fighter who didn't let the hand that life dealt determine their fate.


    Meet Cody, a Real Life Superhero


    Now, let's meet a real life superhero. Cody is a fighter and so are his parent's who are doing everything they can so that Cody can live a "normal" life.  Cody appeared to be just a regular 2 year old playing with his toy.  That was until his Mom called out to him while he was playing and became concerned.  At this point, it appeared that something could be wrong. Then, when he began putting a toy to his ear so that he could hear the sound it was making, it became painfully obvious that something was wrong. Imagine the panic his parents must have felt.  As a parent its your job is to protect your child, especially when they are very young, at their most helpless and vulnerable point. Hearing loss at such an early age would be cruel enough.  So much of what everybody takes for granted has already been robbed. Without the ability to hear, you don't get to feel what its like to have music move your soul, you can't hear the love coming from someone's voice no matter what their words say, and it would be completely disorienting and confusing to not hear something as simple as someone walking up behind you until you see the person with your eyes. As it turns out, the news was worse, far worse....


    Chris and Shannon Coulter were about to learn that their son Cody had a rare disease most people will go their entire life without hearing about, Peroxisomal Biogenesis Disorder. How rare is it? In the United States there are only 500 cases. Most children do not live past the age of 10 years old. Like all degenerative diseases, there’s no hope that anything is ever going to get better.    It will lead to almost certain blindness, the loss of hearing, and shut down most of his body. Cody is beating the odds.  His condition is stable, although the reality is that it could get worse at any time.  No one knows how long Cody has. PBD is so rare that there is not much known about his condition at this time. His parent's refuse to quit fighting for Cody.  As long as their son has a chance to live, they’re going to provide him with as normal a life as possible.


    Not Impossible Labs:  Work Begins on a Superhero Costume for Cody


    Batman had Wayne Enterprises. Iron Man had Stark Industries. Cody has Not Impossible Labs. The mission of Not Impossible Labs is to make the impossible not impossible in order to inspire and solve the world's biggest problems. The designation for the project is C.O.D.I., standing for Computerized Object Detection Interface.  The team has developed a wearable device, adapted from Music: Not Impossible technology, and built it into a superhero costume. It includes range-finding technology that is built into Music Not Impossible's existing vibrotactile hardware to allow Cody to feel what his eyes will no longer be able to perceive.


    “What Cody can see now is like if you had a straw and you looked through the straw... He would just see that little field of vision.” — Shannon, Cody's mother


    The idea is to remap the visual and auditory components of Cody’s world into the tactical domain. Here the distance, composition, approximate location of predominant environmental sounds, e.g., mom calling, engine siren, etc, are mapped into unique tactile experiences.  In addition to remapping the sensory domains, likely extrasensory inputs will be mapped as well, e.g. temperature,  auditory reflectance, optical reflectance, radio frequency field mapping,  etc. These will be Cody's superpowers.


    Project C.O.D.I. | Overview, Current Proof of Concept, and Next Steps


    Project C.O.D.I. |  Schematics, Arduino IDE Sketch, B.O.M, and Eagle Files!