I also saw a picture of a bunch of dudes from the 90s looking pretty cool with wearable tech. We wanted to create a wearable electronic that could help see things behind a person called "The 6th Sense". After finishing the hat, we realized that it would be very useful to vision impaired people as the output signal is auditory.
What it does
The hat can detect objects up to 1 meter in front, left and right of the wearer. It then sounds out a buzzer sound with pitch based on how close the object is to the person. The farther away the object is, the lower in pitch the sound is. The hat also makes longer buzzer sounds if the object is farther away. There are LEDs on the side of the hat to alert people around the wearer.
How I built it
We used an Arduino Uno to control the ultrasonic sensors (distance sensors), buzzer and LEDS. The sensors and outputs are connect via a breadboard and jumper wires.The micro controller is powered by a 9V battery. The logic was created in the Arduino IDE which uses C (hence the name of the hat). The frame of the hat is built of an egg carton and lots of tape.
Challenges I ran into
There are three inputs, distance from the front, distance from the left, and distance from the right. These three inputs all go to a single passive buzzer as the output signal. When coding the logic, this presented a problem as we couldn't isolate each input signal and have three different output signals to the same buzzer. We had to figure out a way to combine all the inputs together as a single signal. We did this by only sending a signal from the sensor with the lowest distance. Tape doesn't stick well to an egg carton so we ended up stapling some stuff together as reinforcement. In general the hat is pretty fragile.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We made something hardware related at a hackathon that is generally characterized by software. As an Electrical Engineer who mostly does math and physics, I didn't think I would ever go to a hackathon as my software skills don't come close to a CS majors.
What I learned
I got to refresh how to use github as I haven't use github in two years.
What's next for The C-ing Hat
If I did want to create a beta prototype, I would probably use smaller (in size) distance sensors, perhaps infrared emitters and receiver diodes as well as add more distance sensors. The hat is currently missing a distance sensor on the back. I would also use an audio output that supports a 3D audio environment so it is easier for the wearer to know where objects are coming from.