Alert Belt

Code: https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3170557/Body-CentricTechnology/Week5/AlertBelt.rar

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Alert Belt is a smart wearable notification device that provides vibration along its surface to notify its users with their selected set of messages. For this project, the belt is connected to an ultrasonic sensor on a step motor that monitors the surrounding of the user and vibrates base on the angle of the objects approaching the user.

Strategy:

My goal for this project was to explore the different effects that you can create using simple vibrator motors. It’s straightforward to connect the small vibrator motors to wearable projects, and it is an excellent way to only notify the user without revealing information to other people.

Something that has always been on my mind is the warning systems that are available on cars. Especially when dealing with projects that are very visual base, I feel that vibration would be an excellent replacement using other senses to notify the users with warning signals.

 

Documentation:

Experiment 1:

I uploaded the “Blink” example onto the Arduino, examining its performance. I initially placed the disk on the table and tried to hold my finger on top of it, but this limited the movements of the vibration disk and reduced its power. So I decided to place the motors on my body instead. I tried the vibration disks in two different places, my fingertip and my wrist. When it was on my fingertip, I could only sense the vibration at that location, but also it felt too strong and annoyed me after just a few seconds as it was placed right on top of my blood vessel. On the other hand, when I placed it on my wrist, I could feel the vibration around my hand, and it was a much smoother vibration.
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I tried changing the frequency of the blink to see at what point do I feel the motors turning off. I only started feeling the motor blinking above 30ms of delay, anything below that it felt as if the motor was continually vibrating.

I then tried running the “Fade” example on the Arduino. I noticed that the analogue value was not directly proportional to the power of the vibration disk. Anything under 60 was just off, and anything higher than 130 was almost full power. In addition, the vibrator’s vibration power increased by more significant steps when it was closer to 60 than when it got to higher values.

Experiment 2:

For the second experience, I wanted to test the three sensory illusions that we had discussed in the class. I made an array of motors and tried turning them on in order. I was able to get a phi phenomena illusion, where it felts as if something was moving up my skin.

For another test, I placed two motors apart from each other on my hand and turned them on at precisely the same moment to achieve a funnelling illusion. It did really felt as if the whole line between the two vibrators was shaking.

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Experiment 3:

For the third experiment, I installed the Haptic Driver and ran through all the different vibration formats that they had in the library. What I noticed was that for most vibrations were only the power changed I could not feel the difference at all. But the library did include some interesting vibrations which would have be interesting to explore further as a mean of sending different messages.

Experiment 4:

For the final experiment, I wanted to do something that I have always wanted to do. I had always wondered why they don’t use vibration motors as a mean of alerting in cars, especially for blind spot monitoring or the different new warning systems that have been installed on new vehicles, instead of the extra lights that they keep on adding to the cars.

To explore this topic, I placed an ultrasonic sensor on top of a rotating step motor to scan the user’s environment and set three vibrating disks along a belt to vibrate according to the angle at which objects were approaching the user. I used the funnelling effect to give the user a full sense of 180 degrees of direction with only three vibrating disks.

Part List:

  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires
  • Arduino Micro
  • 3 x Vibrating Disk Motor
  • Micro Servo Motor
  • Ultrasonic Sensoralertbelt_bb

Insights:

The spacing between the different vibration disks is critical when you are trying to achieve a funnelling effect. If they are too far apart, you don’t get the result. Another issue that I found was the exact location of the motors. If they are placed on top of a vein, you feel the vibration throughout your body, but also if you place it too far away from your nerves, you won’t feel the vibration.

Information sources:

Adafruit DRV2605L

How to build a Radar:

https://howtomechatronics.com/projects/arduino-radar-project/

Next Steps:

The next step would be to build a belt that would house the vibrating disks and test it on the body to see if the relation between the position of the vibration disks and the objects in real life is natural for the mind to understand.

 

You Are the Nature

Code: https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3170557/Body-CentricTechnology/Week4/YouAreTheNature.rar

You are the Nature is the first step towards connecting yourself to nature. The project monitors your heart rate and controls the speed of the flow of water for your office table’s fountain. The faster your heart beat, the higher the flow of water, the more natural sound and the more relaxing your environment. The device helps you to lower your heart rate without taking much for your attention and time.

Strategy:

My goal was to develop a system that helps us monitor our body’s status without requiring much processing from the user. Being that I have always been fascinated with human’s heart rate and how much data there is, I wanted to build something that does the monitoring for us in the background and shows us the result without giving us any numbers.

But when I got into designing the product, I realized the bigger goal in knowing our heart rate at any time is to monitor,  and I thought wouldn’t it be much better if the design could actually do the monitoring in the background for us without getting us involved in the whole process.

I found that our body’s heart rate is hugely impacted by the sound in our environment. But finding a sound that is always playing without annoying the user is really hard, so I thought how about natural sounds. I decided to build a small table fountain that creates more water noise when the heart rate is hard so that it would automatically lower the user’s heart rate by relaxing them.

Documentation:

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I did not have a table fountain nor a water pump, so to get started I replaced the pump with a DC Motor as the pump is simply a DC motor underneath and tried designing the circuit that can control the speed of the motor.

I did not have the heart sensor anymore, so I used a potentiometer as the input that controls the speed of the motor.

The DC Motor requires a higher voltage and current than what the Arduino board can offer with its pins, so I needed to design a circuit that would allow me to use a 9V battery to run the DC Motor and control the voltage using Arduino.

I was able to do that by using a TIP120 Transitorthat was controlled by sending a PWM signal to its base and completing the rest of the DC Motor circuit by passing it through the collector and the emitter legs of the circuit. The base signal basically acted as a switch connect the other two legs together at the rate of the PWM signal.

Part List:

  • Breadboard
  • Jumper wires
  • Arduino Micro
  • DC motor
  • TIP120 transistor
  • Rectifier Diode
  • 220 Ohms Resistor
  • 10K Potentiometer
  • 9V Battery

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I talk more about the challenges that I faced in the “Insights” section. What I was able to achieve was to control the speed of the dc motor using the potentiometer.

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Insights:

I initially tried using the feather ESP32 for the project so that the connection of the heart rate values would be much easier using the wifi, but after a deep dive into the coding I realized that I needed to use the PWM of the board, and because of the weird story going on with the PWM of the Feather I decided to use the Arduino Micro instead.

The hardest part of the project was designing a circuit that would allow an external 9V source to power up the DC Motor. I was able to find similar examples to it online, but all of the examples did not work. When I was trying to control the speed of the motor, I was only able to turn it off or on.

I tried writing my own PWM code using digital wite and delay and giving different timings for the delay base on the heart rate value, but the process just seemed too complicated and even after that I was still not able to fully control the speed of the motor.

After a bit of calculation, I found that the resistor value that I was initially using was too high (1K Ohm) and did not allow much current to flow into the transistor’s base. To get more current into the base, I changed the resistor to a smaller one (220 Ohm).  That did the trick, and I was finally able to fully control the speed of the DC Motor.

I can use the same circuit to run any other device that requires higher voltage and current than what the Arduino can offer.

Information sources:

How to build your own Fountain:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Tabletop-Water-Fountain/

https://plantcaretoday.com/make-a-diy-recirculating-fountain.html

How to control a DC Motor Speed using PWM:

https://www.taringa.net/+hazlo_tu_mismo/arduino-motor-de-12v-con-control-de-velocidad_ibf6h

Next Steps:

The next step would be to purchase a 12V Liquid Pump and test the code with the pump itself. After that, I need to join this experience with the previous one, that measure the user’s heart rate so that I can replace the potentiometer with real data from a heart rate sensor. The final step would be to find the ideal body for the project that would also look nice on my desk.

Touchable Future

Part 1: Material Tests with Multimeter

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To find consistent data, we decided to follow the same procedure for all the materials being tested. Every material’s resistance was written down as they were connected to the ohm meter. We would then activate the axes and read the new values on the ohm meter. After activation, we would allow 30 seconds to the material to revert to its original state, where we would read the next resting value and repeat the procedure until we received three readings for each material.

For the Econyx Stretch Sensing Fabric and Eeonyx StaTex Conductive Fiber, we were able to directly connect them to the ohm meter using alligator clips, whereas, for the Velostat and the Eeonyx Pressure Sensing Fabric, we had to use the Sandwich technique to read the measurements. To do that we used two pieces of fabric with Back glued Conductive fabric. After sewing the two edge of the parts together, we slipped in the material that we wanted to test and connect the conductive fabrics to the ohm meter using alligator clips. We cut the testing matorral bigger than the testing equipment so that it would prevent from any accidental short connection.

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Part 2: Material Tests with Arduino

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To read the values using an Arduino, we made a voltage divider circuit, using the test materials as the second resistor in the circuit and running Arduino’s Analogue Read Example to read the measurements.

We initially used a variable resistor for the other resistor, adjusted to give us the smallest reading possible in Arduino at the resting position, but to confirm the numbers, we also ran all the materials using a 50 Ohm resistor (the average of the resistance from part 1 of the workshop) as well and observed the same range of results as the test with the variable resistor.

We followed the same testing structure as testing with a multimeter, giving 30 seconds between each run for the material to go back to its original shape.

part-2

Lesson Learnt:

  • Velostat:

The Velostat has a great range of resistance ( from 20K Ohm to 20 ) giving the broadest range of readings from the Arduino. Also due to its shape, it can be easily added to any design of any size and be used as a pressure sensor.

  • Eeonyx Pressure Sensing Fabric:

The Fabric was very similar to the Velostat, still a great range of resistance similar to the Velostat, but its unique texture makes it very special and can be used for places where it might be visible to the user.

  • Eeonyx Stretch Sensing Fabric:

This by far was the most fascinating sensor. We did test it on both of its axis, and it returned the same resistance. It stretches a lot and provides you with a functional difference in the resistance. It can be easily added to any design and be used as a stretch sensor.

  • Eeonyx StaTex Conductive Fiber:

This is a unique material because of its form. It can be easily used to fill an object up with and be used as a sensor. It has an excellent range of resistance but takes a very long time to recover after being activated. It also might never turn back to its original shape causing the resistance values to change quite a lot between different runs.

Part 3: Build Your Own Sensor

How nice would it be to be able to control your phone during the winter without having to search for your phone in your many jakcet’s pockets with your huge gloves. How nice would it be to control your phone by simply pressing on your fingertips? For my project, I wanted to use the Velostat to create small pressure sensors, attach them to a glove and create a method of fast communication through a smart glove.

here are the steps to build the sensors:

  1. Cut out 8 small circles of felt to use as cushion. If you want to make the pressure sensors softer, you can cut two different layers (16 pieces).
  2. Cut out 4 small circles of velostat, a little smaller than the felts.part-3
  3. Cut out small pieces of Iron glued conductive fabric and iron them as shown in the picture below.
  4. Use conductive threads to connect to the tabs of conductive fabric on the two felts.
  5. Put the three pieces together and sew them together.part-3-2
  6. Invert the glove and sew the sensors onto the tips of the fingers.img_20190129_214131
  7. Test the device using a multi meter to make sure it works.

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Challenges:

It was very difficult to connect the sensors to the gloves and taking care of the wire connections. During the testing, the sensor did sometimes read out of range values because of short circuits in the wires. Another difficulty was to correctly position the sensors in the gloves so that when your hand is in the glove, the sensor would stay at their resting status.

Next Step:

The next step would be to come up with smaller sensors so that it would be easier to install them. I would also create a fix path for wires to reduce the chances of short circuits. For the final touch, I would connect the 4 sensors to a micro controller and set it up to control whatever device that you would like.

 

Smart Belt

The Smart Belt is the ideal belt for people who always find the time to have a nice meal even on a busy day. When you had too much food, and you fill like you need to make your belt a bit more loose to have that last bite, you don’t need to worry about it anymore. The moment the belt detect a bit of a force stretching it, the belt will automatically add to its length.

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Strategy:

My goal was to design a relaxing belt that is useful for eating. I thought about my personal experience with belts, and one thing that consistently came to my mind was how I wish my belt could sometimes automatically change its size. As a foot lover, I felt that this would be an ideal product.

Initially, I wanted to create a long rectangular shape pompom, so that by pulling on the two sides of it, the resistance of it would decrease and would allow more current to pass through it.

After my first attempt at creating a small pompom, I realized how time-consuming this would be, so I decided to weave the belt. I created two long rectangular shape belt, place them on top of each other with a small amount of overlap, added a pompom between the overlapping area so that if you pull on the two sides of the belt, the pompom will allow current to pass through it allowing the mechanism to be activated.

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Documentation:

After the Crazy eights exercise the workshop, I decided to stick with my Smart Belt idea, as it required its own soft tech custom made sensor. As I already mentioned in the strategy section, the initial idea of creating the whole thing using felting seemed too impractical, so the design was changed to a weaved belt, with a small pompom ball as a soft switch, that would be turned on if the two pieces of the belt were pulled upon.

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To start the weaving process, I created a loom out of cardboard to help me do so. I added a conductive thread to the three center lines so that I could later use it to conduct electricity to the pompom. Then I took about 50 rounds of Yarn and started the weaving, One key point was that it was challenging to pass the 50 rounds of yarn through the loom every single row, so I ended up putting all the yarn around a small tube and used that to help me speed up the process. I started by going from the bottom and started going over and below from there. Left a small piece of yarn at the beginning to tie it up after the whole loom is done.

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After finishing the whole loom, you cut all the yarn that hold the piece to the loom. to finish the piece, you have to put all the extra yarns at the end into the piece itself. To do that, you insert the needle into the piece, put the extra bit of yarn in the needle and go into the piece itself.

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For the final touch, I used conductive thread to mark an X on the spot where the pompom is to be placed. Also added an extra bit of conductive thread to the edge of the product where the rest of the circuit is going to be connected. After finishing both of the pieces, I put them on top of each other and sewed them together.

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After finishing with the weaving, I started working on the pompom. I cut the conductive fibre into small pieces and used felting to create the small pressure sensor. Every time I did a layer of conductive fibre, I added a layer of non-conductive material. Throughout the whole process, I had to constantly use of the testing tool to make sure the distribution of the conductive material was well done. I ended up with a pompom that was great in one direction but not in another, so I sewed the pompom on to one of the X marked on the belt so that the direction would stay the same.

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I finally did some testing by pulling the belt and seeing if it would turn the LED on the testing tool on.

Insights: What knowledge did you gain from your prototype/ experiment? Don’t just include successes, your failures along the way are useful insights as well. How could you apply this knowledge?

Weaving takes a lot of time, especially if you require long pieces. Having to pass a long piece of yarn every time through the loom is very difficult, especially when you need to make sure that no knots are being made. I did end up using a small roll of paper as the place holder for the yarn and passed that through the loom. Also, I initially made sure my loom was very flat and straight, but later on realized that the fact that I could fold my loom was very helpful especially when I had to pass the big roll of yarn through every single line. When you get the flow of the process, it gets much faster, but it is very difficult to make sure every line is exactly the same length. If you push the yarns too much if will narrow your piece and makes it more difficult to weave. To make sure every line stays the same size you need to push the yarn only enough to make sure everything is tightened together without ruining the rest fo your loom.

The pressure sensor pompom requires a lot of testing. Even though I did a lot of testing while I was felting, it was still not enough. I only tested the pompom in one direction, so I ended up with a pompom that only worked in direction. I would recommend that you make sure you test the pompom in every direction and that you don’t use long pieces of conductive fibre as that would reduce the quality of the pompom and change it to a simple switch.

Information sources:

I used the Weaving Loom tutorial to create my own cardboard loom.

Next Steps:

After finishing the design, I realized that the pressure sensor conenction was too big, and I wouldn’t use it as belt myself. For my next step, I would try to add the sensor into the belt like the figure below:

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I would also make it bigger so that it would actually fit around a person’s waist. I would also add a LED to the belt itself so that it would have an indicator on it to show its status.