Have you ever imagined that one day you’d be able to watch TV shows on your t-shirt? Engineer David Forbes didn’t see any reason why not. In 2009 he created his first prototype for a wearable LED television, and he just unveiled the final design! Scaled down from his initial 50-pound model, the finished version weighs only eight pounds and boasts a 160-by-120-pixel display.
Forbes, an electrical engineer, raised concern in the Tuscon, Arizona airport last year when he entered with 160 circuit boards and a plethora of electronics strapped to his body. Authorities quickly relaxed when he showed them an episode of The Simpsons and explained the device.
Forbes first version was a cumbersome LED, all-red screen that he soon decided to revise. Using a surplus of old LEDs and flexible circuit boards he had collected, he created a model with 30 rows of four LEDs each and sent it off to production for 175 more.
How does it all work? A vest provides the basic structure to support an iPod, two lightweight, inexpensive lithium-polymer batteries and four circuit boards. A circuit board located at the left shoulder contains a digitizing chip that converts the iPod video to a resolution that conforms with the display. Ethernet-like cables transmit the information from the iPOD to the four screens. The four boards, one on each shoulder and hip, make up the full screen. Ribbon cables transmit the signals to the three miniature chips on each of the flexible circuit boards located on the chest and back. Chips in each of the circuit boards then turn the LEDs on and off 360 times a second to produce what we see as television.
The batteries can power the television for one to one and a half hours. Forbes initially thought of attaching small speakers to the shoulders of the coat but with plans to showcase his invention at Burning Man, he decided he would need to produce more noise. Using one of his previous inventions- a six-inch-diameter drain pipe and outdoor marine speakers- he wired it to the coat to be able to make a scene at Burning Man. We will be waiting to see if he gets any security after him in the Nevada Desert!