RaspberryPi Powered Wearable Computer

Picture of RaspberryPi Powered Wearable Computer

I have been interested in wearable computing for a while.  Until the RaspberryPi was released, there was no affordable and compact option for the computer part of a wearable computer.  My original setup used a laptop in a backpack, but that is a little too big to be practical.  I have seen a lot of arduino based wearable electronics, but they are not exactly what I have been looking for - a full power desktop computer that you can carry around at your side and use while walking, standing, sitting, or doing anything else. 

As a linux guy for many years, the RaspberryPi is the perfect solution to my problem, and I'm already comfortable with the OS.  Before you begin, make sure you read through my instructions.  I have updated several sections through the past few months. 

Just so you guys know, this is my first instructable after being a lurker here for almost seven years.  I'm excited.  So, let's begin! 

Update March 2013: I am now using a new (3D printed!) case.  Significant updates to the battery pack made as well.  The new case prevents the Pi from being totally enclosed, and marginally decreases the form factor. 

Update September 2013: Added a new video demonstration.  Check it out! 
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clapfilk11 days ago



Thats brilliant

I think going li-poly here would be a reasonable option. Lighter, smaller, and quite a bit more power. The tricky part is dealing with charging and such but even then, there are several pre-made packs that would fit the bill if you don't want to get into rolling your own.
meztek (author)  jairuncaloth1 year ago
Yeah, that's a really, really good idea. I've recently improved the battery pack a little bit, but I do think you're right on going to li-poly batteries. The biggest interest I would have is not only more power and a smaller pack like you mentioned, but also cost. The battery pack I used in the project cost a total of $70. When you think about that being for only four AA batteries with a charge controller.... that's a decent 15-20% of the project cost. Any ideas where I could find a pre-made compact pack?

How about li-ion batteries? I should think they would be easier to charge. And since they're used in cellular phones, slim li-ion batteries in the size of a Raspberrypi might be easy to come by.
judas79 meztek18 days ago

I recreated your instructable except for the power pack. I bought a dual output rechargable 5v 2.1 mAh and 5v 1.5 mAh but its not enough to power the edimax wifi, candybar keyboard or even a wireless mouse. I even tried hooking it up with a battery powered hub without success. How many amps. is your power pack putting out? What operating system are you using? Wheezy has worked the best for me so far, as far as loading the bluetooth drivers for the candyboard and edimax; I couldn't get those same drivers loaded for XBMC. Advice will be appreciated!


Oliverhall1 month ago

Nice project! Those mini wireless keyboards, you can buy them here:

They sell them cheap and ships from Canada!

They also have mini wireless adapters for Raspberry Pi:

clickyummy1 month ago


bearblue1 month ago


gazumpglue2 months ago

mate I would love to buy the complete setup from you, can I do this Ill pay nicely

jasonZak6 months ago
What kind of keyboard is that?
tomzbeast6 months ago
mate I would love to buy the complete setup from you, can I do this Ill pay nicely
acasalini7 months ago
For video, use omxplayer, as it can decode h264 via the RPi video chip, that has no issues with full hd. The CPU can't really handle sd video, but the gpu is all another thing. :D
Mariska Botha7 months ago
Oh wow, super awesome!!
BunnyRoger7 months ago
Super amazing, and way way cool!!
MAApleton7 months ago
Appreciate the links that you gave and the pricing, thanks for that!
thaddock8 months ago
Do you think this would work well with a Peregrine Glove?
otarkhan8 months ago
What about coding a program and adding some sensors or anything and make it like IRONMAN suit ^_^ 3:)
ssully18 months ago
BusDriverLOL9 months ago
Since the new camera module came out, and it is pretty small, do you think you can use the camera module to show on the screen what is in front of you?
If you were to set up another Pi in parallel, do you think you would be able to increase the processing power by a substantial amount, or would it not be worth the money?
jped11 months ago
Hey, this looks amazing.
I am planning on making one of these over the summer. However, I had in mind to make something that is a peripheral to my phone (like google glasses). I want something where i can recive text (possibly return) and also emails. Do you have any advice
pyrohaz1 year ago
Thats absolutely awesome! I'm thinking of making the same thing though I want to have the image projected only into one eye. Have you tried just using one side of the glasses to see if its possible to change focus between the foreground and background?

Either way, cool project!
I wont knock your idea because I like rasberry PI although I still haven't grabbed one for a few reason main becuase you can get a small android computer that is dual 1.5ghz 1gb ram has hdmi output and microsd card slot and 1 usb for like $50 so it has much more support then the PI and much better specs and not much more price..

But I wanted to say that I have a samsung galaxy s3 I paid $200 for it from att.. It has android, gps, lte 4g net, wifi, phone, 8gb internal mem, 8gb microsd, dual core cpu, huge amount of ram, latest android, and can easily be hooked to a pair of those video glasses.. So the point I am making is my phone is 20x better then the PI and will hook directly up to some glasses/headphone and have pretty much a fully running computer that is as powerful as some decent netbooks and easily fits in one of those little pouches and has WAY more features then the PI as well as much more support for thousands of apps to do different things, most of them being free as well as if I wanted to I could make an app for it myself..

So wearable computers are already very much available and very easy to get, you can get a pretty decent spec smartphone for like $50 now days so I mean while I get what they are trying to do with the PI I don't see it replacing the android market anytime soon, maybe if it was $5 instead of $50 once you pay shipping, and the specs went WAY up since it isn't even in the same ballpark as the cheapest android platform systems.

Good job though! I would do a project like this just for the experience of doing the project not really caring much about the info i posted above so I would still do it myself, my main things about not wanting to do it is those eye goggles don't work well with people who wear glasses as well as they have not come far enough with their technology to really be feasable for normal use unless maybe you get one of those $1000 pairs that are kind of bulky.. The ones I see have to many cables, to big battery that doesn't last long enough to watch one movie, low resolution, ect. I have hdmi on my phone so if they had one that just had a micro hdmi port to hook into my phone for video/audio and not 500 different cables for different devices and a 4hr battery that wasn't the size of a laptop then I would buy one lol
I lost you when you said you could hook up an S3 to the video glasses... I wasn't aware that it had RCA out, or even mini-HDMI ;)
There is a small $25 cable that you plug into the usb and it gives you a usb for charging and an hdmi.. RCA no but why in the world would you want crap RCA lol HDMI ftw..

All in all I could get one of these cable adapters so I have hdmi for $25, get an extended life battery (becasue my battery doesn't really last more then a couple hours if you actually use the phone) and a self powered set of glasses that accept hdmi and lose about half the weight of this system as well as cost the same if you had to buy the phone, half if you already have the phone and do 100x times more stuff with it, have much more speed and much more memory.

If you really wanted to go hard you could take an s3 or another smartphone and remove the screen which takes most of the power and hook it up to the glasses and use it strictly for computer and have the wifi so you don't have to pay a cell bill and use google voice you can still make and receive free txts and emails with gmail..
That's pretty expensive for a cable that just breaks out existing connections.

RCA is much easier to handle (you can generate it in software with a decent microcontroller) and it has a nice round stress resistant connector. It's also to some extent ubiquitous, even now that it's not put in everything by default.

HDMI requires some serious processing power and a very high-res screen (you need at at least 720p to benefit). I doubt you could tell the difference between the two at 640x480.

You could lose the weight, but you'd lose the versatility and be dependent on an app store app or a ton of extra work to free your phone from being locked tight, maybe drop android and run a different linux. Besides your phone offers zip in terms of ways to hack sensors and other I/O peripherals into without the hassle of USB. I'm pretty sure the S3 has nothing for GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output).

Simply put, it would be much easier to use the raspberry, and especially so at the prototype stage.
Please dont take this the wrong way, I understand what you are saying.
But, Meztek has provided alot of detail on what to buy, and where to buy, the wearabel computer. Not to mention supporting open source software/hardware in the mean time. All you have provided is your thoughts.... why dont you buy the gear you are talkign about and set up a wearable comptuer and share how you did that? in other words.... put your money where your mouth is.
oh yah and they make those types of keyboard mouse controllers that run on bluetooth that will hook to any android phone so you can have the keyboard and mouse also.
Isn't $50 for a decent smartphone only possible if you buy your phone with a new activation and a data plan? There are a lot of places in the world where phone hardware prices are not subsidized by 2 year service plans. What does an S3 cost if you buy it new, factory unlocked. I'm guessing in the $500 range. Also, the R-Pi will let you add all kinds of storage and sensors rather easily. I don't really know if you can add an external drive or sensors to an S3. That would be cool if someone made a snazzy breakout board for the S3 that allowed interfacing all kinds of things with it.

Also, if you 'get what they are trying to do with the PI', then everything you said in the paragraph after those words has no bearing. Please don't take all of my words has hate or frustration. I guess my point is that this instructable shows one way to do it at a certain price point. Your way would be at another price point.
Nick_de1 year ago
Nice project! Have you tried overclocking your Raspberry pi? You should be able to safely go up to 950 MHz. If are worried about overheating check out my shop: I offer a tiny fan and set of heat sinks for the raspberry pi
meztek (author)  Nick_de1 year ago
I'm up at 1GHz stable, actually. Haven't pushed any higher, but it seems my Pi could handle it. Only problem is it doesn't run all that much faster. I've noticed my Pi still sits at 700MHz a lot, even when I think it could benefit from going faster. I'm sure I could change that.... but I haven't bothered to I guess.

You've got some neat things up on Etsy. If I didn't already have piles of SD cards, I'd be tempted use a microSD card for the Pi....
snotty1 year ago
meztek (author)  snotty1 year ago
I've seen those. That's definitely another option, but the resolution isn't terribly much higher for the price, and they're kinda big. For virtual reality, it's great. But for a portable setup? I suppose with the way it covers your eyes it would be good for AR.... but I'm frightened to think of what would happen to the poor RaspberryPi if we tried to have it stream a live video feed to the monitor all the time.
This is awesome you might want to make a wearable desk for the keyboard only so that it is more like typing on a real desk.
meztek (author)  instructamaker1 year ago
A wearable desk wouldn't exactly be what I'd call portable though :/
nerd74731 year ago
this is epic
MartijnD1 year ago
Nice project! With 2 separate screens you can add 3D vision, download divx files with SBS(side by side) encryption, run XBMC and watch 3D movies wherever you want!
Some ideas:
wifi security camera: supports IR so you night vision
Use cell-phone with video out, instant 3G support, bluetooth, wifi,...

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