... a recipe for Internet-activated wireless toys. This is an update on Becky and my plush (and not-so-plush) creations, and a look at some of the details of the project.
First, let me mention that I've changed my focus from support tickets to blogging and RSS feeds. I feel blogs offer more of a chance for social commentary, and it's also just more fun to be able to subscribe to four different feeds, customized by the toy-owner. It's transformed from an office toy of sorts to a kitchen toy (yes, a kitchen toy), still purposed as an ambient alert system. The form of this isn't plush at all, since it's meant to blend in with common household items: a pound of unground coffee is held in a transparent container, from the sides and top of which beams of light escape. Here is "Caffeine Alert" in progress:
These are the ingredients for Jonah's coffee & blog toy. Getting ready to bury the circuits in the acrylic cannister, in a way where the blog LEDs will be most visible. Receiver is at the very top, Arduino board and transmitter right below it. Mm... coffee
Testing out the signals using an on-board testing button
And this is the full board that is hidden inside the toy. The contents of the box are visible from many angles through the coffee beans. The right-hand side of the box (to be placed at the top of the cannister) contains an on-off switch and all four LEDs, one for each blog.
And now for the plush -- Becky has settled on the form of her toy, Chatter, which is a pillow with three icons at its center. Each icon is connected to an instant message ("xo", "talk to me","on my way"), and will light up when the message is received. The result is a comfy pillow that you can keep on your bed or decorate the apartment with.
Preparing the icon inlay for Chatter. The wires at the top of the photo are ready to be attached to the back of each icon patch.
Becky's pillow with board exposed. The Arduino board and transmitter are to the left and below the toy, but not sending any signals yet.
In its final form, all three messages are sent to the pillow. Each LED turns on separately and stays lit for several seconds.
Also, here are a few shots from when we were testing out the hardware and messaging system, raw:
A mess of wires, and way too many boards -- this is from when we first started prototyping the system. At this point last week we had receiver/transmitter setup, but no messaging.
A more recent test, this confirmed that the receiver was getting messages sent from Adium/GTalk. The board and transmitter are on the left of the desk, receiver on the right. Host computer (toy-owner) is in the back on monitor display, with the client (IMer) in the front on the laptop.
Full photo set here: http://flickr.com/photos/bekathwia/sets/72157594374052703/