David Forbes, an electrical engineer from Tucson, Arizona, has found a way to mix fashion with one of America’s favorite pastimes. The engineer has created a vest packed with LEDs that turns him into a walking TV.
Forbes’ TV vest began as a coat in 2009, which he populated with some surplus LED displays. He says the 50 pound all-red screen was “the world worst television.” Later he upgraded to a lighter version using an old overcoat to create a 160 x 120 pixel display with LEDs.
Forbes’ video coat gets its images from from an iPod Classic connected to a circuit board which is powered by two lithium-polymer batteries. The batteries go in his pants pocket, and the control boards are hot-glued to his coat’s shoulders; the whole setup weights about eight pounds.
The engineer was actually stopped at a Detroit airport en route to his Tucson home with family last summer while wearing the coat. Police officers had received 50 phone calls from those alarmed about the hardware the coat was packing. However, Forbes soothed the officers’ concerns by playing episodes of The Simpsons on the coat.
The coat has since been trimmed into two comfortable vests, which hold the iPod circuit board on the left shoulder. Roughly five gigabits of data are flowing around his chest when the vests are displaying video. One vest contain 14,000 green, red and blue LEDs. The lithium-polymer batteries gave the coat an hour of power, while a vest gets up to 90 minutes. For audio, Forbes incorporates another invention of his which is a boom box for bicycles built from six-inch-diameter drain pipe and some outdoor marine speakers. The project cost him a total of $20,000.
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