Open-Source AR Hack Chat

Making the world a better place to see

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Raj Nakaraja will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, May 31 at noon Pacific.

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We may live in a soup of electromagnetic waves that range in wavelength from the diameter of Jupiter down to a fraction of the radius of a hydrogen atom, but our eyeballs have evolved to only let us sense a tiny slice of that spectrum. That's too bad, really, because there's a lot going on in the rest of the spectrum that could potentially inform our ROYGBIV-centric view of the world. Think of the possibilities of being able to see UV the way an insect does, or being able to watch the radiation pattern of an antenna and make adjustments on the fly. Sounds like a job for augmented reality.

If seeing the world with different eyes sounds as cool to you as it does to us, you won't want to miss Raj Nakaraja's stop by the Hack Chat. Raj is head of engineering at Brilliant Labs, an augmented reality company that's looking to bring AR into the mainstream. They've got some cool ideas about AR, and we're going to take the opportunity to talk to Raj about open-source AR in general, Brilliant's products specifically, and how AR can be incorporated into not only our projects, but into our lives as well.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney05/31/2023 at 21:25 0 comments

    Dan Maloney
    11:57 AM
    Hi Raj, welcome aboard! We'll get started in a minute or two

    Dan Maloney12:00 PM
    Hello and welcome back to the Hack Chat. I'm Dan, and I'll be moderating today along with Dusan as we welcome Raj Nakaraja for a chat about Open-Source AR.

    Hi Raj, welcome. Care to start us off with a little about what you do?

    Raj Nakarja12:00 PM
    Hey Dan! Excited to get started :)

    Raj Nakarja12:01 PM
    Thanks for the warm welcome! I'm Raj, head of Engineering at Brilliant Labs. We're a startup making open-source AR/heads up display glasses, and my job is leading the hardware and firmware design

    Pinembour joined  the room.12:02 PM

    Dan Maloney12:03 PM
    So, as you can probably tell from the way I promoted this, I tend to think of AR as being able to see other parts of the EM spectrum as an overlay on the regular view of the world. I suspect that's not all there is to it, though. How far off the mark am I?

    Dan Maloney12:04 PM
    Nto gonna lie -- kinda want a Geordi LaForge visor ;-)

    Raj Nakarja12:06 PM
    Haha, that's a pretty cool idea honestly. I imagine myself being bombarded with colors as soon as a microwave turns on, or the phone rings. Well, there are tons of use cases for AR glasses. One favorite of mine was a startup a while ago that was doing a circuit overlay on top of PCBs. The idea was that you could see the current and voltages in realtime while you're probing your board

    Raj Nakarja12:07 PM
    I think they got bought up by one of the big PCB software companies and I never heard of them again. We want to avoid that happening by being open source and building a community around our devices

    Dan Maloney12:09 PM
    Yeah, that company was started by a guy we had on the chat a couple of times. It was a really good idea that just sort of disappeared. Forgot all about it, actually.

    Raj Nakarja12:10 PM
    If anyone wants to recreate it, they can try it out on our Monocle!

    Dan Maloney12:13 PM
    Can you go into Monocle a bit? I'm particularly interested in the optics -- having a big goofy thing stuck to your face always seemed like a barrier to general AR, but Monocle is much more streamlined.

    Dan Maloney12:13 PM


    Brilliant Labs

    Pocket-sized AR for imaginative hackers. At Brilliant Labs, we're building an open-source ecosystem to support developers and creatives reimagining the future.

    Read this on Brilliant Labs

    Raj Nakarja12:16 PM
    For sure! Well firstly, here's the full datasheet: There's a brief description down the page on the optics, but in short it's a tiny micro OLED which projects down to a beam-splitter. The image then appears as a screen floating a couple of meters in front of you

    Raj Nakarja12:16 PM

    Dan Maloney12:18 PM
    The reason I ask is for those of us with "old eyes". Seems like we'd have a hard time focusing up close, but maybe that's not how it works, since the apparent image is so far off

    Raj Nakarja12:19 PM
    Exactly. It looks like a tablet screen at arm's length basically

    Raj Nakarja12:20 PM
    The display is driven by an FPGA which allows for some nice graphics acceleration, and Bluetooth networking is done via an nRF52. The nRF runs MicroPython, so actually, Monocle is totally python driven

    Raj Nakarja12:21 PM
    Additionally, there's a 5MP camera, microphone, leds, and a couple of touch sensors

    Dan Maloney12:25 PM
    Would you want to use this on your dominant eye? Or would you put it on the weak eye and leave the dominant eye free to see the real world?

    Raj Nakarja12:26 PM

    Raj Nakarja12:26 PM
    This is how it looks in real life. You can compare the text size here to my laptop screen

    kjansky112:27 PM
    What is the experience like I mean I've always had a hard time seeing through a microscope where the instinct is to close the other eye but you are really supposed to mentally turn off the eye not looking through the microscope?

    Raj Nakarja12:29 PM
    I personally put it on my weaker eye. It's not really something you have to focus...

    Read more »

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