Do you remember Google Glass? They were smart glasses with a bit of augmented reality thrown in. Unfortunately, they never became a full product; however, with advancements in computer vision and miniaturisation of computers, custom smart glass builds never really went away.

One maker, Matt Desmaris, recently revisited the idea. “I made PiGlass V1 in 2018,” he explains. “I wanted to try to make a heads-up display wearable and see how far I could take it. I kept running into performance issues with Raspberry Pi Zero when I was trying to add more features, and I made a note to revisit the project when Raspberry Pi Zero 2 came out.”

PiGlass V2 has some extra features, like bone conduction earphones. It also makes use of a wearer’s hat.

Virtual vision

Matt was in contact with us throughout the process of making this and the build, actually,  was quite quick, as he elaborates: “Construction was straightforward – a soldering iron, heat gun, and small flat-head [screwdriver] are all that’s required. Construction took place over a couple weeks as I progressively got more and more parts in. Everything is secured with zip ties or heat shrink.”

The whole system is controlled with a gamepad, which makes for an interesting sight. 

“There is a button on the audio hat on the back of my head,” Matt reveals. “It is the start/stop button. Start the menu program or kill every program that could be running. The menu program uses the [picamera] API which allows it to be recorded, including the text overlays. The menu program has a few options: camera (from PiGlass V1) at 1080p, record video with audio at 1080 p, stream YouTube at 720p, Emulation Station, Kodi at 720p, and Steam Link [with controller issues].”

While Matt developed it hooked up to a monitor, he’s tested it thoroughly by watching streaming video and playing some retro games – something we heartily approve of.

Seeing cyber

“Within the menu/related programs it works very well; some things take a few seconds to load,” Matt tells us. “The 720p display looks really good; all the text in menus and captions are easily readable. The camera program allows you to take 1080p images/silent videos, and video with audio records at 1080p, 25 fps, with 44kB audio. YouTube stream will livestream to YouTube in 720p, 25 fps, with 44kB audio.”

With the project now at an advanced stage, Matt has been thinking of future improvements as well: “I want to add voice commands and I have a few ideas. The microphones are located on the back of my head and they can pick up my voice at normal speaking levels. I want to add real-time object detection. I have tested demo code and it looks like [Raspberry Pi] Zero 2 W can do it. I want to make a program that uses the gamepad to be able to select which type of object is being detected.”

We very much look forward to the cyberpunk cyberglass future.

From The MagPi store


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