Setting Myself Free with Raspberry Pi and MyVu

I have been spending a lot of time on airplanes lately. There is hardly enough space to sit, let alone open a laptop screen. I’ve been intrigued by these mini displays that sit right in front of your face, just outside your glasses. After a little research, I found that what I am looking for is not quite here yet. I’d like something that does not completely cover my eyes, so I don’t have to look at the screen all the time and can glance at a keyboard. Eye fatigue is a risk with any of perhaps even if you’re not looking at them all the time. Besides, I don’t want to be completely antisocial. There are some that get pretty good reviews that are made for radio control. A camera is attached to a model and the operator controls the model as if sitting in the driver’s seat - definitely how I would want to do it if I were into radio controlled model aircraft. Fatshark.com seems to have some good ones, but they completely cover the eyes. Others that don’t completely cover the eyes, like Google Glass, are either not quite on the market yet, or have gone out of business. MyVu marketed some for old iPod’s a few years ago. But it was necessary to jail break the iPod in order to see anything but movies. Only movies are sent out of the connector with the default Apple software. Alternately, one could cut the cable on the glasses and wire in another device besides the iPod. The Raspberry Pi is a perfect candidate because it has a composite video output, which is exactly what MyVu needs. I found that others had done this and posted successful results on the internet.

I looked up MyVu in the Salt Lake City area on the local classified sites, since you can only get them used now, and found only one pair for sale in Bountiful. I live on the other side of Salt Lake, but was going to be downtown for the RootsTech conference and stopped by before the conference to pick them up. Alexis asked me come to the VaporLoc store in Bountiful. I walked in, tested paid for and then asked her: “What is this place?” All I could tell is that it smelled interesting, and had pipe paraphernalia. I thought I must be in a smoke shop. It turned out to be the opposite of a smoke shop. VaporLoc is a ‘stop smoking’ shop. There were many flavors of small bottles completely lining the walls. The bottles come in five different concentrations of nicotine so that the smoker can work their way from one concentration to another and eventually break the physical addiction. The bottles had “none of the 400 carcinogens that tobacco has” when smoked, Alexis said. I was impressed and complimented her on her store, happy to have learned something new.

Now I have two choices, to jailbreak the phone and use an old iPod as the video source, or to cut the cable and use a Raspberry Pi. Why not just use the iPod as the screen with a wireless keyboard and scrap the glasses? Well, the primary purpose of this display is for writing, and frankly, I find it hard to get into the writing ‘zone’ when others are sitting right next to me. I write in journals. Who writes in a journal with someone looking over their shoulder? It’s not that you wouldn’t let that same person read it later, possibly, but you don’t know that until your done writing it. I might write an essay that may be controversial. It requires thought and concentration. It’s hard to write a draft on a controversial subject when you don’t know the person sitting next to you even though you would be happy to share your finished work. Yet other times I am writing for business and might have an idea I’d like to develop that I would consider competition sensitive. Even if you don’t care that anyone sees what you are writing, the fact that you know they might be reading it could influence what you write. You have to be free when writing, and I wanted to see if the glasses set me free, while trapped in the fuselage of airplane, with my knees jammed into the seat in front of me.

MyVu and the pi

MyVu and the pi.

This still leaves me with two choices: jailbreak the iPod or use the Raspberry Pi. Waiting for another device to hit the market is just not an option. After some reflection, I am going with the Raspberry Pi. I have one, I am comfortable with linux, and the MyVu does not work new with new iPod’s. The pi worked! I didn’t even have to cut the cable. I simply connected the red audio plug into the Pi video jack. I couldn’t find this instruction anywhere on the net, but decided to try it when I noticed that as I slowly put the 4 conductor plug into the MyVu jack with the yellow plug in the Pi, that I could get a little signal, but never when fully inserted.

This scheme is likely to be obsolete in a year or two, but I’ll be free in the meantime.

Update 2019: VaporLoc turns out to be a vaping store. I don’t think their intention is to help people stop smoking so much as it is to get folks addicted to something similar. Better than smoke … I guess.

I never used the MyVu much. Due to the field of view, it has to be positioned on the face very precisely. I had to re-position it constantly. An extra keyboard, battery, and device were too much, in addition to the poor 320x240 resolution and quick eye fatigue. A kick starter company Vufine almost got there. They had higher resolution and a single hdmi cable to connect to any device. If they had only made the lens about twice as large it might have worked. But positioning it needed to be even more precise than the MyVu. I don’t use it either.

References and Further Reading

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