I have often bemoaned the sheer number of wires I have to deal with when using the vOICe. There are 3 wires. They do not sound like much but get hopelessly tangled.
- The wire going from the glasses to the computer.
- The wire going from the headphones to the computer.
- The wire going from the computer to a reserve battery or in some cases, to the main battery.
I have now found a solution which eliminates most of the wires. The solution utilizes a little known feature of the vOICe for Android. It can interface with IP cameras. I have mounted a portable IP camera on a pair of industrial safety glasses and have connected the camera to my Android phone wirelessly. A pair of Bluetooth headphones completes the setup.
- A maker space: Banaao in my case
- The AI-BALL camera
- The BLUEZ 2S from Aftershokz
- An Android phone. I am using the Motorola Moto G4 Play
- A fish-eye lens.
- A pair of glasses.
- A phone battery pack.
- A cloth pouch for holding the battery pack.
- A set of straps to hang the battery pack from the glasses.
Assembling the solution
It is crucial to order the USB charging cradle with the AI-Ball camera.
- Remove the charging circuit from the USB cradle of the AI-Ball and attach it to the battery pack. This is where the maker space comes in. You will need help for doing this unless you are comfortable with soldering irons and removing circuit boards.
- You will need to mount the camera on the safety glasses.
- The battery pack will go into the cloth pouch along with the battery charging circuit board.
- Mount the fish-eye lens in front of the AI-BALL camera.
- You need to strap the battery pack in its cloth pouch to the legs of the glasses.
- Power up the ai-ball and configure it to be infrastructure mode.
- Connect your Android device and ensure that you can see the stream of the camera on the phone’s browser.
- Download the vOICe for Android on to your Android phone and ensure it is running.
- Add the AI-Ball’s streaming URL to the vOICe’s camera dialogue after setting the camera type to IP camera.
- If using Talkback, as of this writing, you may have to swap out of the vOICe, use the “over view” button to get back in and then click on “continue.”
Once you have successfully added the URL, the soundscapes will change. The vOICe will begin to use the IP camera. Keep Foveal Mapping enabled because you are using a wide angle lens. You can then pair the Bluetooth headphones and go wireless.
- You do need to tinker to assemble this solution.
- You need to handle 3 batteries namely the phone battery pack for the camera, the phone’s battery and the battery powering the Bluetooth headphones.
- Some of the functions of the vOICe may not work with an IP camera because these cameras lack standard parameters so need to be catered for individually.
- At the time of this writing, I have not found a way to force my Android phone to connect to my prefered network. I have a home wireless network and the network of the camera. I need to connect the phone to the camera each time I power up the solution.
In terms of the wires, a thin wire connects the camera to its USB cable. This wire runs along the right leg of the glasses. There is also a set of straps that take the weight of the battery pack which hangs behind the glasses. I usually let it hang inside my clothing.
The above solution can be used with any IP camera. You are free to substitute any of the components. You could even use different kinds of cameras such as thermal cameras assuming they support MJPEG streaming.
Are there easier options?
Yes. The vOICe is a flexible platform which you can run on a variety of devices. The other option is to contact Banaao and ask them to assemble the rig. This will be a bespoke project because much will depend upon several factors such as what infrastructure you already have, what you can source locally and what has to be imported.
- Mr. Prem Sagar, Founder and CEO of Banaao>
- Various trainees at Banaao include Davis Devasia, Gurjap Singh
- Mikael Holmgren for introducing me to the AI-BALL camera
- Dr. Peter Meijer for modifying the vOICe virtually on the fly to handle large frames which were output from IP cameras.