Arduino in the hands of designers

    Recently, the British Graduate School of Design held a preliminary defense of projects in the course of industrial design. Students presented the concepts of smart device projects that will be brought to mind, namely, the readiness for mass production.

    Somehow, during the last year and a half, a friendship has developed between the British and Amperka. And Amperka was invited to the defense, for which many thanks. We happily came, looked, took a picture. I want to share with you what I saw. The projects seemed extremely interesting to me from the point of view that they do not at all pretend to hardcore electronic stuffing and programming, but as a result, interesting, funny, utilitarian things still turned out. And all because before the implementation the analysis of existing problems of life was carried out and elegant ways to solve them were found.

    I present to you a short review of 9 projects that were presented at the defense.

    Egg tray

    Problem: The date of production is not written on chicken eggs. New eggs arrive in the refrigerator and existing ones are seized. It is difficult in the end to understand which eggs are already rotting, and which else can be eaten.

    Solution: Advanced egg tray. As soon as the egg enters the cell, an individual timer is started for it. After two weeks, the indicator near the cell changes color, symbolizing the problem with the egg.

    Several trays can be articulated snaps together. At the same time, control electronics is necessary only in one of them: the connection of additional trays from the point of view of electronics is simply the addition of another shift register to the cascade.

    Because it’s not so easy for an ordinary user to get power inside the refrigerator, an elegant solution has been invented. The device is powered by a battery, which is made in the form, you guessed it, a chicken egg and it is placed simply in one of the holes. The energy egg is actually a “kinder surprise” inside of which standard batteries are placed. Fortunately, most of the time the microcontroller does not need to do anything, but fuss only when the refrigerator door opens and the light turns on.

    Freshness data can also be found on a mobile device while in, say, a store.

    Pencil sorter

    Problem: After the artist or designer has worked, an unsystematic pile of pencils and felt-tip pens of different colors is organized on the table, which are very sadly put into place, preserving the gamut.

    Solution: A device where you can load all the pencils in one heap, and only it will understand their colors and lay them out in the right palette.

    The device is based on a color sensor ; gates based on a stepper motor that supply pencils one at a time; and a movable stand, controlled by another stepworm with a worm gear, which becomes opposite to the currently needed compartment.

    Unfortunately, we only have photos. In dynamics, the work of the prototype looks exciting.


    Problem: When the hostess is at work, and the cat is at home, they are sad and they miss each other.

    Solution: Lightweight mobile robot with camera and laser. Cats like to play with a moving laser spot, this is known, and the owner will be pleased with the opportunity to watch this process from the office through the camera.

    The device accepts simple commands to activate the game mode via Twitter. The bot itself moves autonomously, by sensors on board. Video from the camera can be obtained via Skype: in this way you do not need to do additional software and you can have fun both from the desktop and from the mobile device.

    For the robot, the 2-wheel chassis with yellow wheels, well-known to the arduinists, was quite suitable. It remains only to realize the aesthetic casing, which will close the wheels, reliably hold the periphery and delight the eye.

    AR: Arduino Pot

    Problem: Different types of tea need to be brewed in water at different temperatures for different times. Keeping track of these parameters manually is lazy.

    Solution: A teapot that you can specify which tea we are going to brew. The kettle will give a signal when the water reaches the desired temperature and you need to fill up the tea leaves and then notify you with sound and color that everything is ready for tea drinking.

    As a result of a long search for a new form: from the standard one for juices and milk to the ideal disk without a pen and nose, a simple, but unusual and at the same time functional form was chosen. All electronics are hidden in a pen. Three buttons are displayed outside to select the type of tea: black, green, white and LED indicators.

    Cat Lawn

    Problem: Cats always need fresh water and grass for proper digestion. And constantly supplying them manually is tiring.

    Solution: An eco-friendly drinking bowl with water recirculation and a fresh grass micro lawn.

    Arduino , pump and sensors maintain the right microclimate for grass growth; and also from time to time they provide replacement of water in the drinking bowl, driving it through the filter. To make the grass grow better, in low light conditions phytolamps turn on. On the prototype, their role so far is played by 5 mm LEDs.


    Problem: Regular switches and dimmers are boring.

    Solution: Turn on the lighting in the room or electric fireplace with elements of primitiveness. The more active the three “silicon”, the more “fire” we get.

    The device is based on several capacitive touch panels, and the microcontroller monitors their rubbing.

    Musical Octopus

    Problem: Music is movement, movement is life; life lacks music.

    Solution: A music player that plays when the owner moves, and the track depends on the dynamics of movement.

    Arduino, Wave Shield and accelerometer do their job. All electronics will be housed inside a cute monster with el-Wire teeth and tentacles with suction magnets. Such a comrade can be easily fixed on the frame of the bicycle or, say, on the shoulder when you paint the walls.

    Not that this device is super necessary in our everyday life, but the demonstration of its prototype was one of the most groovy. I personally live in a place of a large concentration of cyclists and I don’t see any cyclists. I am sure that such a device would find its consumer among them.

    Color pyramid

    Problem: Children do not know what color is obtained by mixing the other two. Designer's children should know this :)

    Solution: A classic children's pyramid, the elements of which summarize their color with the color of an adjacent element or other object.

    The color sensor, microcontroller, several pieces of RGB tape and the long process of finding the shape led to the prototype that was demonstrated.

    Automatic pan lid

    Problem: When cooking, foods should be poured when the water boils and at different times, so that they are ready at one point.

    Solution: A container lid with a swiveling bottom allows you to place up to 3 ingredients in it. As soon as the water boils, the contents of the first compartment will be dumped into boiling water. The remaining 2 compartments will fall into the broth with the set delays a bit later.

    Boiling water detects the sensor DS18B20 +. Next, the microcontroller sends the necessary signals to the step-changer, which directs the hole in the lid to the desired sector. After the contents are in boiling water, the motor parks the hole in its original position so that the water does not boil away.

    Such a story

    Students until the summer have to solve a host of issues related to the optimization of the production of cases and electronics. Surely, many will abandon xduino in favor of raw MK, someone will have to re-examine the form factor, but somehow the prototypes seemed to me quite curious and viable. I want to wish them all success and a great future.

    Personally, I really liked a couple of projects, just as a potential consumer. And if they appeared on Kick Starter in the summer, I will definitely put my 5 kopecks into their appearance on the market, because they are cool and I want those.

    And what seemed to curious habrachitateli?

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