SOBEaR v02 :: the responsible robot bartender


Finally, my finalized prototype of SOBEaR, the responsible robot bartender.

SOBEaR is a robot friend for anyone who does not know their own limits, or has problems controlling themselves.

I’ve added a glass coaster with a glowing status light to tell you that he is on, as well as a sewn-on patch to show you where the ‘go’ button is.  When you press the “breathe + pour” button on his right foot, the status light goes solid, and the user breathes into SOBEaR’s face.  You can see the alcohol sensor above the bowtie, under his chin.  Your current blood alcohol content (BAC) is then shown a scale from 1 – 6 with green, yellow, and red LEDs in SOBEaR’s chest.  Depending on how drunk you are (or aren’t) SOBEaR will pour you a drink appropriate for your current state.  In the video below, SOBEaR is pouring cranberry vodkas for my user tester.  Two servos hold the alcohol and the mixer, and with the SoftwareServo library for arduino, programming this aspect was simple.

For many obvious reasons, I used a MapDuino which is an ATmega168 chip soldered into a custom PCB circuit (started with perfboard from radiocrack) for the brains of this robot.  The alcohol sensor was super easy to implement, got it from sparkfun via my computation studio teacher.

This robot takes the shape of an adorable plush teddy bear, because I felt it gave it a sense of trustworthiness, as if a teddy bear could ever do you wrong. Trust SOBEaR, he knows what is good for you. It was a tough decision between naming this guy “SOBEaR” or “Teddy Drunkspin” [credit goes to matt for that one!]. Other suggestions?

There are a lot more pictures in my first prototype’s post HERE.

thanks to José + Chris for drinking and filming!

Robot Bunny // Desecrated and Celebrated

On Friday, we were told to bring in any plush toy that had interesting innards that we would want to understand. Naturally, I picked out a stuffed bunny that has a switch on his foot which triggers a song to play, and two motors to start up- one in the body, one for the ears. Here’s a vid of mr. Rabbit before dissection time. I accidentally pulled one wire out at the end,but I found it’s connection and had the “bunny” in a fully functional state. Seeing just the motors, speaker, button, and battery working completely disembodied made me feel like some great robot surgeon. Poor bunny.

The most interesting findings in this specimen were

– the PNP/NPN circuit that reversed polarities every second of faster in order to make the ears go up and down
– the gear box that was inside the bunnies’ head was quite intricate, and contained at least seven differently sized cog wheels
– the fact that the PCB was made up of completely through-hole components. This definitely surprised me, as I thought surface-mount is much cheaper. Yury told us that factories are set up to do one or the other, and changing is more expensive than it would be worth.

I will definitely be salvaging both motors, as well as the switch (appears to be a small tactile one similar to what radioshack sells, only in a plastic encasement), and the 8ohm speaker that seems to be quite loud and clear for it’s size. Oh, and the battery holder is definitely something I can use- screws shut and holds 3 AAA batteries. Overall, very much worth the $12 (kmart had a sale on Easter themed plush!)

Spatialized Umbrella v01

This is my first prototype of the Spatialized Umbrella.

The Spatialized Umbrella project offers an entirely new dimension to walking in the rain. Using light and sound spatialization this umbrella creates an immersive, mobile, and highly personal multi‐sensory environment.  Range sensing technology helps the Spatialized Umbrella react to your movement through a space.

5 speakers and LEDs are mounted inside of the umbrella, around the users’ head, allowing for sound and light spatialization.  The ‘raindrop’ samples play in a loop, each speaker playing their own unique raindrop. The LEDs light up the speaker playing at that moment. The tempo of the loop is controlled by a long-range Sharp Infrared range finder.  The closer an object is to you, the faster the loop plays. If an object is close enough and a threshold is reached, a lightning sequence is triggered. Best part: COMPLETELY SAFE FOR USE IN THE RAIN.

This video is actually an early version of the code, and I apologize for not using a microphone INSIDE the umbrella (it’s hard to hear the ‘raindrop’ sounds). New video soon.

The most time consuming part of the project was in soldering the PCB i used (i wanted it to be small to fit at the top, so the entire arduino did not make sense). I designed my own “mapduino” circuit and used an IC socket for the ATMega168 chip to sit in on the PCB. This way i can just pop the chip out and replace it with another I have reprogrammed on an Arduino. Rigging the umbrella also took a little while.

***ALL SOUND IS MADE USING ONLY AN ARDUINO AND 8OHM SPEAKERS:: lookup tables store values for waveshaping, which is output directly from Digital Pins from the ATmega chip. See the current version of the code, which can be found HERE.

still to do: linearize the IR data so that there is a more even rate of change in the tempo. When I began, I also had the thought to use an accelerometer, to measure the direction of movement. BUT, I have been successful tonight in reading data from a digital compass sensor, which can give me degrees of rotation — like say if the user spins the umbrella, i could have the sound/light spin around the users head in that direction, at that speed. This is much more interesting data than an accelerometer, in my opinion.

>> UPDATE :: Featured on and and !!

Sharp Infrared Range Finder sensors

Click on image to walk through a great lesson myself, kerstin, and cecilia put together about Sharp Infrared range finding sensors. there’s info in there about pin connections, the 3 types of sharp IRs, and code for mapping, smoothing, and calibrating the range finder data.

HERE is the link to the page, if your resolution isn’t high enough for lightbox. and code links:


Smoothing and Mapping a tri-color LED

..and a vid – sorry, didn’t realize our hands were so out of frame when we filmed it — but you get the idea: closer the bluer, the further the redder the LED gets. this is demoing the last arduino code link i just listed.


Luminosphere • v0.5

Finally finished!!!

Here it is in all it’s glory, luminosphere. You can check out my Arduino code HERE

I also had to make a product sheet, the PDF file can be downloaded HERE.  There is also an image of it, in case you don’t want to download (always a hassle, i know).

I am going to sell this item on, i’ll post up here when i post it on there. probably will sell for $20, and my teacher, Yury, has guaranteed anyone who sells something they make for class for more than the cost of parts, an AUTOMATIC ‘A’.

so buy my stuff. thx. bye. UPDATE: (!!!)


[flickr-gallery mode="photoset" photoset="72157623547745970"]

User Testing • Luminosphere v0.4

Welcome to my User Test for NiteLite Luminosphere®!

I invite you to examine the concept and look of a new product to be released worldwide in March 2009.

NiteLite® is a product to be used in any darkened room. Simply turn NiteLite® on, and enjoy the vibrant colors radiating from the base of the product and then watch in awe at the projection of colors on your ceiling or wall!

Watch a video of NiteLite® in action!


Learn about additive color synthesis, as Red, Blue and Green light mix to make White, and every color in between! **assuming projection surface is white to begin with

Here’s a diagram of how it works!

Now for a few questions:

1. What are your initial reactions to NiteLite®? Are you interested in using this product?

2. Do you want to have any control, or do you desire any physical interaction with the product (ie, pressing buttons to alter the light)?

3. What do you think could/should change about the NiteLite®’s physical design? Size? Shape?

4. What room of your domicile would you put NiteLite® in?

5. What sorts of activities do you think you would partake in, while in a room with NiteLite® turned on?

6. Is there any functionality you would want NiteLite® to have? Features?

7. Any other comments?

8. Would you consider purchasing this product, and how much would you pay?

LED time piece • v03

third iteration of the timepiece project for computation. we were allowed to use PWM (pulse width modulation) with the LEDs, so now they can FADE, not just on/off. i created a “nite light”, that projects the colors vertically onto your ceiling. it’s a nice effect, i feel alright about it. the green is brighter than red or blue (this is just a fact about color LEDs, green and yellow are brightest), so a perfect WHITE is never reached.

i also added buttons as you can see here – the toggle, simply breaks the ground to all the LEDs, essentially turning the device off (although in reality, the arduino is still running the sequence).  holding either the red or black push buttons down triggers a different sequence of light color.

international toy fair 2009

visited the international toy fair 2009 yesterday, and got to see all the latest developments in toy tech for the year from tiny startups to mattel and hasbro. this was an ‘industry only’ event; in other words, the public was not invited, only sellers and buyers. the sellers ranged from startups with only 1 or 2 employees to the top secret toy developments made by Mattel and Hasbro. the only reason i was able to attend is because my studio:computation teacher is a registered vendor (he makes this: ) and was able to get passes for our class as “interns” for his company.

Essentially, this is mattel’s chance to sucker in toy giants like toys ‘r’ us and wal-mart (the buyers) to place orders for products to be sold in their stores. really interesting shit. a lot of it was boring like light sabers and random toy-ish decorations, but a lot of it was rad. i took a few pictures, but also, a sweet vid.


here are some highlights

LED time piece • v02

second iteration of the expression of time through LEDs and an arduino project. i built an enclosure for the LEDs, complete with outside access to both power and USB inlets for the arduino mounted inside.

i tried to arrange the LEDs in a pattern according to color (yes, believe it or not, they are not randomly spread out over the cardboard backbone with which they are held. My idea was that the color alone would express the progression of time, along with the incrementing light. I think the result would make a good entry into the failblog(.org). Aesthetically, i am satisfied, and the sequence still comes through, but it doesn’t have the same gravity as when the colors were placed together, in order (like in v01).

here is the schematic i used for construction, followed by more images of guts, etc…


my hilariously ineffective code can be viewed HERE.  yes, i realized a nested for loop could accomplish the final 500 lines in about 10, but that’s my style, OK?! i’ll fix this in the next iteration.

speaking of my next iteration, i realized after working on this project, that i am BASICALLY re-constructing the same object/aesthetic as i did for my studio final LAST SEMESTER.  a cube, littered with colored LEDs. see what the hell i am talking about.  i have decided that my next iteration will be a completely new enclosure, and one consisting of perfect spheres. i’m done with cubes, it will be a very, very long time before i put LEDs into plastic or plexi cubes. this i vow.