FamiLAB members on the road – WearScript workshop for Google Glass developers at MIT Media Lab
Want to turn a light on and off across the room with a hand gesture? View the ground live from a flying quadcopter, without taking your eyes off the sky? Play a multiplayer augmented reality game that uses Pebble, Google Glass, and Myo simultaneously? FamiLAB members have been involved with a project that makes this possible – the WearScript platform.
FamiLAB members first became involved in this groundbreaking wearable technology breakthrough when Lance Vick introduced Connor Brooks (both lab members) to Andrew Miller, co-creator of WearScript with Brandyn White. Connor was interested in working on object detection in images, so Andrew then introduced him to Brandyn, who studied computer vision at the University of Maryland. Brandyn recognized Lance’s programming skills and enthusiasm for open-source programming, and invited him to become involved. Brandyn loaned Lance a Google Glass for prototyping, and Connor was also loaned a Glass. The devices were an enormous hit at FamiLAB. Soon afterwards, the next round of Glass invites were deployed. Within several months, more than half a dozen lab members were using Glass.
Brandyn developed a Go server backend to support interfacing devices with Google Glass. With the addition of FamiLAB members Lance, along with Connor Brooks, Daniel Grove, Shane Engleman, Cory Kinberger and Jeremy Stover, the team of Brandyn, Andrew, Scott Greenwald and Cole Gleason rapidly expand WearScript to a web-based programming platform capable of interfacing nearly any combination of devices. Brandyn visited FamiLAB twice in recent months to teach workshops, where participants built their own eye-tracking devices. Lab member Pat Starace used the interface to move the eyes of his animatronic robot developed recently through his kickstarter project AnimatronicShop.com
Then WearScript began to take off. The system was straightforward even for entry-level Glass app developers to use. This caught the attention of the Google Glass development team. Brandyn was asked to organize a workshop for Google Glass developers, held at the MIT Media Lab. WearScript was introduced as a platform to quickly configure different technology to communicate with each other, via an android device. Equipment was supplied by Pebble, Myo , Bitcraze, Gadgetcat, and others. A design sprint and hackathon would be held to develop project ideas.
Because of their extensive involvement in the development process, Brandyn reached out to the FamiLAB crew to help host the workshop. Google provided travel funds for several members. In preparation, the crew worked feverishly to meet the deadline, both together at FamiLAB and by remote communication over IRC [freenode channel #WearScript]. To interface with Brandyn’s Go server backend, a web IDE was developed and WearScript libraries were rapidly developed with tools for interfacing Google Glass, Pebble, Myo muscle sensor devices, Arduino, bluetooth devices, and examples were organized on a website. The brilliance of this platform began to emerge, as it became clear that WearScript allowed communication between wearable technology platforms that weren’t originally designed to work with each other. And the modular, open-source approach allows flexibility to add new devices in the future. This is especially exciting for the maker community. In particular, the Arduino interface allows makers, artists and inventors who are already developing Arduino-based creations to interface them with commercial technology such as Glass and Pebble.
Six FamiLAB members traveled to MIT to assist with the workshop, including Lance Vick, Connor Brooks, Daniel Grove, Shane Engleman, Cory Kinberger and Brooks Zurn. After landing in Boston, the beautiful event space of the MIT Media Lab rapidly became the venue of a FamiLAB-style late-night hackathon.
Lance architected and rebuilt the existing web IDE from the ground up, with support from Daniel Grove. He also configured WearScript to coordinate muscle input from a Myo armband (so new, units can only be pre-ordered), to change the colors and brightness of a Phillips Hue bulb. With a gesture, Lance could now turn on lights A La Superhero. Connor Brooks quickly integrated Pebble support into the WearScript platform. Now Glass could be controlled by and/or send information to Pebble devices. Cory Kinberger wrote a version of the popular virtual sliding-tile game 2048, with piece motion controlled by the Myo wristband. Shane Engleman and Daniel Grove worked with the tiny quadcopter Crazyflie. Brooks Zurn’s company Gadgetcat provided SparkFun RedBoards, arduino supplies & support for attendees.
Tiny Crazyflie quadcopter flew so high it got stuck in the ceiling projector and had to be rescued by the maintenance crew.
The event has already been picked up by several news venues. Cory’s Myo 2048 game video was featured on TechCrunch. Articles about the event were posted on Network World and Slashdot
The opportunity to help present a MIT Media Lab – hosted workshop for Google Glass development and the WearScript platform was exciting and inspiring, and helped further the FamiLAB mission of education and outreach to Orlando and beyond.