I've just recently discovered TextBlade. From the sounds of things, it may be while before I actually have one to play with. So I wanted to ask a few questions to the folks that have one about my intentions/hopes/dreams.
I've been doing some thought experiments on how to build a truly mobile complete computing experience. I am the CTO and Software Architect at a startup in FinTech, and build home automation gadgets as a hobby. I only work in the office 10% of the time. 40% of my job is figuring out how to make something work, then documenting that decision on slack, trello, or a google doc. The other 60% is actually writing code. So this gives me opportunities to work while taking my daughter to the playground or the science museum, running errands around town, hiking in the woods, etc... but I need a way to write down the thoughts or crank out code that pop into my head wherever I am, whether I have a table to set up a pocket keyboard and phone or not.
The ultimate vision is to wear some full AR smart glasses like Vuzix Blade, with a text input device hidden in a pocket in my shirt (think hoodie pockets that go all the way through). The short-term bootstrap goal would be a strap with my phone on my forearm, with the TextBlade attached to a lanyard with a flat piece of plastic under it to provide stability.
However, due to the positioning of your arms and hands on your belly instead of out in front of you, the ideal positioning of the space and keys is not the usual layout. It would look something like this if you were looking down on it hanging from your neck: (excuse the poor ascii art)
So, perhaps oriented more around 70 degrees than 90 degrees, depending on the length of your arms and comfortable wearing position, etc, but you get the idea.
Let's assume for a moment that I can 3d print a plastic plate that will hold the blades securely in that position, and that I can position small neodymium magnets and wires in a way to fake the blades into thinking they are connected in their standard position.
Some technical questions arise. It looks like there is a magnet that connects the top of the left blade to the top of the right blade in the center. Does anyone know if that magnet also carries data between the sides or if it is only used to mechanically keep the parts together? Is there more than one contact between the left and right side? On the magnets that connect to the space blade, it looks like there are 2 metal contacts. Does anyone know if there is a chip anywhere in the left/right blades themselves? With only 2 wires and multi-touch, I'd assume there would at least have to be a capacitive touch controller chip in there, which would likely make the 2 wires a protocol like 1-wire, providing parasitic power on the data lines. Or maybe there are some extra contacts between the left and right side that I don't see in any of the pics, and the 4 lines together make an SPI connection. If there is no chip at all in the left/right blades and they are completely passive components, and all the processing is in the space blade, then I can't see how you get a multi-touch interface out of a single capacitive electrode. If it is actually an analog capacitive signal being sent back to the space blade, my idea is probably shot... adding any extra wire would throw off the readings. But a digital serial signal would be a bit more tolerant.
Either way, if anyone has any technical details on what type of signals are sent between the different parts or any hardware hacker treggers want to put an oscilloscope or signal analyzer inline between the parts, it would be a good start to the "modding community" I expect will grow up around this tool.
I wish Waytools would release a devkit with the hardware and whatever SDK and/or source code they were willing to release. Since most of the remaining issues seem to be software related anyway, open sourcing the software and firmware and getting the hardware into developer's hands might actually speed up general release... just a thought.