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Body Computing System: A Redux, and a Dream

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Back before the dawn of mankind, in the month of April, I wrote about1 my struggles with the body computing system and what I was going to do to build a system that actually worked for me; since then, I've gone back to just using my Thinkpad full time, and carrying it in a backpack with my smallbag. I had plans to build, essentially, my own laptop, with my Ergodox and a Raspberry Pi. I've been playing on and off designing something that worked like this, and even came up with some decent solutions. The most promising in recent memory was this briefcase system2 which would have worked and been good but wasn't really the style of something I want to carry every day. I just need a way to mount the screen on the top half, and I could use this today. I've also designed a number of printable Ergodox-computers along lines like this3. Overall they are nice, functional systems, and useful interfaces, but they failed to scratch the real itch that I have: ubiquitous, easy to use personally-controlled computing.

Over the last four months, I've sold, in my head, the issues I've had that led me to a dead-end on the Body Computing System last time:

With these big issues routed around, I've begun working on my MVP again, and have had some promising first results; I've integrated Emacspeak in to FSEM10 and begun working on good patterns to work with it, and generally starting to understand how fucking hard it is to use computers if you're visually impaired. A post for another time, though. I've also worked on the hardware, with some pretty good first results.

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The really really cool part about this implementation is that the HDMI port and USB ports are easily accessible at any time. This means that I could build a dumb terminal with just a display and the Ergodox and just plug it when I want to use it. It's a very promising pattern, if I can put together a small mobile thing that fits those needs, a la the printable computers I am designing.

Essentially this idea of creating a ubiquitous computing platform is starting to become a bigger project than just that – a compute fabric for all of my systems, not just when I'm on the go. It's also becoming much more attainable system. Matrix has proven11 12 really simple to work with so far, and the effect is nice. I'm excited about this project and am carving out more of my personal time to hit this project as hard as I want to.

At the Emacs-SF Coffee.el meetup last month, I met one of the engineers behind Avegant13 a neat personal projection unit, and I'm really looking forward to seeing that ship, I may even pre-order one and integrate it in to this whole system, at which point I would have a fully-functional personal computing system which even could do display. Exciting times.

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Ryan Rix is a privacy rights advocate and net-art wannabe. Reach him on the Fediverse as @rrix@cybre.space, twitter as @rrrrrrrix, via email to ryan@whatthefuck.computer or on Facebook or on Matrix as @rrix:whatthefuck.computer.