Introduction: Glasses Mounted Video Display to One Eye - Turn Yourself Into a Borg

Picture of Glasses Mounted Video Display to One Eye - Turn Yourself Into a Borg

UPDATE 15th March 2013: I have newer better version of this now in another Instructable:

Believe it or not the real purpose of this project was not to play at being a Borg.

I needed to make some form of wearable head up display that also allowed me to work simultaneously, i.e. see what I was doing at the same time, to test the feasibility of a concept for a research idea I have had. I needed to for example be able to remotely watch a video screen with data on it and also later may want to view protocols, checklists etc on this "head up" display.

My interest in this is because I think wearable displays will be a valuable tool in hospital medicine, especially in anesthesiology.

The proper name for this is a monocular HMD (Head Mounted Display).

A number of video-glasses already exist for watching DVD's for example and these generate an image for each eye. The downside is that you cannot see your surroundings while wearing them.

So-called monocular (one eye) displays do exist but can be very expensive. I already had an old pair of Olympus Eye-Trek(TM) video glasses, which are (relatively) inexpensive and decided to hack them and embed one of the display units into a pair of workmans safety glasses.

Then, having made this display work, I used the innards of a wireless security camera / receiver combination to make the system work wirelessly and finally packaged all the circuits with appropriate batteries into a just-about-pocket-sized container.

This project might also interest the "wearable computer" fraternity. You could also attach an infra red camera to it to give yourself night-vison.

Step 1: Another View of Finished Glasses

Picture of Another View of Finished Glasses

Here is another view.
The box on the left contains a video receiver from a low cost security camera video transmitter / receiver combination plus batteries, plus the drive circuitry from the Olympus Eye-Trek(TM) video glasses.
The small circuit board and one set of optics from the video glasses are mounted in the safety glasses on the right.

These glasses may look bulky but it is actually better than some commercial systems out there, very light in weight too.

Step 2: Construction 1

Picture of Construction 1

A wireless hi-res colour camera CCTV kit from was used very similar to this one: Order Code: N12CX

This comprises a colour camera which will run off a 9V battery or mains. This has a radio transmitter in it which is claimed to be good for 100m. Also in the kit is a small video receiver. This comes with a 3 section lead that takes the audio (red and white plugs) and video (yellow plug) out of it to your television, or in our case the Olympus Eye-Trek(TM) glasses.

The receiver runs off 9V also and has a single circuit board in it which we will transplant later into our pocket sized unit.

Step 3: Construction 2

Picture of Construction 2

Here we see the boxed video receiver on the left and the unmodified Eye-Trek glasses bottom right.

Step 4: Construction 4

Picture of Construction 4

The video glasses have now been very carefully taken apart (v small cross head screwdriver required). There is a circuit board in the glasses themselves and also another one in a hand held driver/control unit that the source video signal is sent in to.

What you see here is the small circuit board from the glasses themselves and ONE of the two video display units. The second has been simply unplugged from the circuit board.

A backlit LCD screen projects an image down from above your eye into a prism arrangement that redirects the light into your eye.

I have tried to give you some idea of what the view looks like although tricky to photograph - it is better than this in real life.

Beware, any dust and debris on the or near the LCD screen will be very visible when you look through the prism - keep everything clean and no fingerprints on the optics!

Step 5: Construction 5

Picture of Construction 5

Here is a view of the tiny camera, the receiver and the hacked internals of the video glasses waiting to be transplanted into one lens of the safety glasses.

Step 6: Construction 6

Picture of Construction 6

Here the prism unit has been grafted into the lens of the safety glasses.
The lenses of the safety glasses are polycarbonate which means you can cut a square hole out of one of them with a Dremel with a cutting disc in it and the lens will not shatter.

Measure twice, cut once. I marked up the square hole using black insulation tape strips and then moved them around over and over until exactly right before cutting anything.

I glued thin clear plastic to sides of prism and then cut them down little by little so that when they were stuck to lens of glasses the prism was held at exactly the right angle for you to see the screen properly while wearing the glasses. This stage needs to be done very slowly and carefully in small increments to get it right.

I used plastic glue very sparingly in places and a hot melt glue gun also (with care).

Once the prism unit was mounted I reassembled the display components back into the top of it. It all clips together although very delicate. Tiny blobs (and I mean really tiny) of hot melt glue stop it coming apart when assembled.

Step 7: Construction 7

Picture of Construction 7

Here we see the prism mounted into the glasses and the LCD display plus backlight reassembled onto the top of it. The circuit board is attached by a fairly short pair of ribbon cables. These are so tiny I did not dare lengthen them so the circuit board is now mounted on side of prism unit. It would have been neater to mount it on side arm of the glasses but I did not dare cut into the ribbon cables as they are so delicate.

The next problem is how to box this up neatly, multiple curved surfaces - really tricky.

Step 8: Construction 8

Picture of Construction 8

Here is a better view of the circuit board. Very fragile, masses of components on it. Easily damaged.

Step 9: Construction 9

Picture of Construction 9

In the end I used two very small plastic hobby electronics boxes and Dremelled them down carefully until they fit the structure and against each other. Gaps filled with "liquid metal" which is just an epoxy based filler and then all painted black (next picture). Again very fiddly, need to go slowly to avoid mistakes.

Step 10: Construction 10

Picture of Construction 10

Here the enclosure has been painted black.

Box on left contains the circuit board from the video receiver, the circuit board from the hand held control unit for the Olympus video glasses, a 9V battery for the video receiver and 6X1.2V rechargeable batteries to power the Olympus Eye-Trek(TM) circuits.

My aim was to make this box pocket sized whaich I have just about managed to do.

Step 11: Construction 11

Picture of Construction 11

Here is the control box opened up:

Top left: 6 X 1.2V NiMh rechargeable batteries to drive the Olympus Eye-Trek(TM) circuit board.
Middle left: 9V battery to power the Video receiver circuit board.

Middle: Two circuit boards one above the other separated by an insulating layer of clear hard plastic.
Upper board is the one from the video receiver.
Lower board underneath is the one from the hand controller of the Eye-Trek glasses.

There is an on/off switch for each board.

I made up a cable to take the "video-out" signal from the receiver to the "video-in" port of the Eye-Trek glasses (this also included the audio too). If this is unplugged from the "video-in" it allows you to run the display from a cable fed video signal if you want to, with the video receiver unit switched off.

Step 12: Finished

Picture of Finished

Here it is finished.


CD_tatro (author)2013-05-22

I noticed in your last hmd you said you had a camera hooked up to this I was wondering if this mod had a camera also and can would it be able to work with a smaller camera like the kind you find in those spy pen? I want to make one of these for soldering for some reason and I want to put a zooming camera on it..

IRDave (author)2013-04-24

John, I started out with a Microoptical CV3 that the cables failed after 3 years. I hacked a Vuzix 310 to monocular but the 1/8" round jack is bad on that after a year. What would you say to building me a more rugged unit for my IR camera? I alos like the idea of wireless if that's possible from my camera to my display.

Laserbeamtoast (author)2012-11-26

where did you get the eye- trek glasses?

XenonJohn (author)Laserbeamtoast2013-03-02

Hi, I bought them around 2008. They sold them in an attempt to get gamers interested.

Currently working on a new version inspired by the eye-tap devices (google it) and of course the google-glass projects. Next one will not be mounted on a glasses frame and will be more borg-like just covering one eye (in miniature though). If it works will post an update instructable.
People say you look silly wearing these, well yes, you do. People say they have no real world practical application. I disagree, my application is very mundane. I have no intention of walking around the supermarket in them, nor do I want augmented reality necessarily.
I just want to watch downloaded TV on my attached iPod while simultaneously doing other things around the house, looking after children etc and this device will suit me just fine.


MillenniumMan (author)2011-02-10

How is it even possible to see anything from that close?

I have glasses to help my vision, but if I try to see anything that close, it's just one big blur.

XenonJohn (author)MillenniumMan2012-10-21

Try a pair of regular video glasses. The image appears to be 2m away on a 52 inch screen.
Therefore your eyes stay focused on long distnance whether you are looking through my glasses or at the screen, therefore it all works OK no blurring or eye strain.

Would be great connected up to the forthcoming google augmented reality phone apps that are promised that will overlay information on the items of interest around you.


Roflolommo (author)MillenniumMan2011-11-26

I was thinking that too. I assume there is a lens in front of the screen.

tpower4 (author)2011-12-07

Are u going to patent this.

blckthng (author)2010-02-23

If i remember correctly, the two screens on a the ipod thing is focused about 2 meters away, so that the image is "46 inches from 5 feet" or something, would using just one, sorta mess up the optics? make it a tad blurry or something like so?

inventordude14 (author)2010-02-14

 could you use a digital photoframe keychain? i have already hacked it to have calendar and to do lists

jongscx (author)inventordude142010-02-21

Problem is getting one to get video input.

thakvongsa (author)2009-08-20

does it matter what kind of video glasses is used to make video display on one eye? thanks,

CShaffer212 (author)2009-02-05

Indeed you can, and I've done it! I didn't use glasses though, I used a bicycle helmet to mount the display. There is somewhat of a plus to using the camcorder also, as the driving circuits for the camcorder eyepiece are built in to it. The entire part will work anywhere between 5 and 9 volts, and takes composite video signal. for pics because I haven't made an instructable for it.

haha very nice use of VEX. it is expensive though amazing! I to made a project but put in a camera and some IR lights which are on an amazing board might I say.

hg341 (author)CShaffer2122009-06-13

hey how old are you? ps your supercat game looks fun

CShaffer212 (author)hg3412009-06-13

I'm 18 and finally finished with the monotony of high school and moving on to a university specifically chosen for promising not to bore me! :D

hg341 (author)CShaffer2122009-06-15

how far along is your spuercat gamei going to download the beta

CShaffer212 (author)hg3412009-06-15

It's a few levels along now, theres the starting level where you find the armor, the next level which has a basic puzzle and a tank boss, then the fire level which is in two parts and has a turret miniboss and a incomplete super hovercraft turtle robot boss encounter. due to technical issues I am restarting the project as a Source engine mod with new graphics and a re-done character model

hg341 (author)CShaffer2122009-06-17

cool and can you give a link to the beta i can't find it

Saint_Awesome (author)2009-02-05

Intelligent Image Processing by Steve Mann is a pretty good (not too detailed though) guide to making eyetap (mediated reality) devices. It's got the trig formulae to calculate where the diverter should be and how large, ect. Anybody know a good place for cheap displays?

If you can manage with B&W; display, the viewfinders of old video cameras is pretty good. I have one of these I've been dying to experiment with, maybe this instructable will kickstart my butt into doing it. This old camera was a Sony, but I'm sure they all have something like that. Also - these days you can get REALLY cheap small digital picture frames, may be worth investigating those? Since you're not after gaming frame rates, these may just be the ant's pants - and they're colour...

ants don't wear pants...

no, they do not

... you obviously don't socialise with the right kind of ants... %) See below for a better idea - I've now begun to look around 2nd hand shops for a suitable cellphone, may be much easier to interface.

Notbob (author)teddlesruss2009-04-09

unfortunately, a lot of the screens on those micro picture viewers are rather, rather terrible quality. I mean seriously terrible.

A cell phone could yield a cheap pinhole camera plus colour LCD screen (if you were careful about removing the connection ribbons from the PCB maybe you could even use the phone as an internet connection).

Wow awesome idea - and if you get a reasonable phone with an good OS and wifi then a lot of your work is already done! One application written in Java could snaffle camera output, send it to a base unit which would process it and add captions/markup, and send the augmented image to the display.

Here is a link to the textbook I mentioned that includes all kinds of great wearable computing/mediated reality stuff.

demonbabi13 (author)2009-02-28

is there any way to make it "slimmer"? what i mean bby that is less bulky because when you mount everything, its glasses with a hunk of plastic and stuff. any suggestions?

muffinhead (author)2009-02-08

now you can be just like the batman! except maybe not as discreet.. great i'ble! :D

paulschulman (author)2009-02-07

This seems really hard. I wanted to do this for an experiment I plan on doing--but this seems like it might be out of my league. And I'd like to do it in 3-D

rbhavanirao (author)2009-02-06

I suppose the gadget can be modified to get a 3 D picture .Each human eye gives an image of an object individually to the brain. Because the each eye gets and gives the image at a slightly different angle , the images transmitted to the brain are slightly different. From these two images the brain constructs the 3D image. EVen a single eye transmits images at different angle by its rapid movement.The 3D image by two eyes is superior to 3D image of a single eye.

I copied following passage from the link

Three-Dimensional Image, or 3-D image, flat image enhanced to impart the illusion of depth. Humans perceive the world and the objects in it in three dimensions—breadth, width, and depth. This seemingly simple phenomenon is the product of a complicated set of interactions between our eyes and our brains that is still not entirely understood. Our eyes are spaced about 6 cm (2.5 in) apart, which causes each eye to receive a slightly different image. The brain fuses these two images into a single 3-D image, enabling us to perceive depth. This way of seeing is called binocular vision, or stereoscopic vision

Go ahead and do it . This very useful in laporoscopic surgery. Already similar thing is developed it is very expensive.

XaqFixx (author)rbhavanirao2009-02-07

Commercial 3D HMD's can be picked up starting about $300, new. The difficult part isn't viewing the 3D, or even necessarily convert his HMD to view 3D, it is finding or producing the source content.

Tinker83 (author)2009-02-05

you might neglect the prism, and use an opaque screen like a teleprompter. the colors would be a little washy, but you could see through the screen as well

IX Smith XI (author)2009-02-05

Is there one input for the screen.

IX Smith XI (author)2009-02-05

I bend looking for something for a long time YAAAAA!!!!!

bwpatton1 (author)2009-02-05

Actually they have one of these in Japan, I think I saw it on Youtube not too long ago.

imonsei (author)2009-02-05

yo dawg, we heard you like cars and racing games so we installed a video screen in your glasses so you can drive while you drive! EPIC instructable!

ljackson (author)2009-02-04

parallax sells a OLED display that is 128x128 with 65K colors, and 1.5" diagonal for $90. It also has its own embedded graphics controller. Don't know if that will work for a similar use. You could also use a prism out of a pair of binoculars to project from the screen. Just an idea.

bowmaster (author)2009-02-03

Holy crap!! I've been looking for this for months!!!

pembo210 (author)2009-02-03

Sweet Device!

balisticjoe (author)2009-02-02

I have been trying to make a HUD for months. This will really help, I just don't want to deal out over $200 for the LCD glasses in the first place.

prutschman (author)2009-02-02

I've always wondered: how difficult is it to focus on the image shown by an HMD? Does it have lenses that make it "appear" far enough away that you don't get eyestrain?

luke (author)prutschman2009-02-02

i had the same problem when i attempted to build a nightvision scope. i never did find a way around it so i scraped the idea..

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