This sprint allowed us to practice device prototyping. For me, it was my first experience with prototyping and physical computing. We used the Smart Home Kit by littleBits, a brand of prototyping system. LittleBits is really easy to use and has awesome capabilities; it’s unique in that both children and adults alike can use it with ease to create cool circuits.
Our task for this sprint was to create a device prototype prompted by a specific design challenge. Our first major step in creating our prototype, thusly, was choosing the challenge to address. The available challenges were as follows:
As indicated, my group chose challenge no. 5, “baby cries a lot”. We wanted to develop a prototype that would detect the problem [baby crying] when it occurs, and would provide positive reinforcement in order to solve the problem. Babies are fragile and need to be nurtured, so we took care to try to prototype something to soothe and comfort the baby as opposed to something that just enforced silence and could have a negative impact on the baby’s well-being.
We came up with a couple of different ideas. This is the one I found the most promising/interesting:
Our prototyping process went well, aside from the fact that we had difficulty with the sound trigger (the most important part of our prototype). We were in a loud room, so that was probably the cause. Even though we couldn’t trigger our prototype correctly every time, we continued on with our design. In the future, I wouldn’t work on a prototype in a loud, busy room like that. I’d work in smaller quarters.
Other than that setback, I had a good experience working with littleBits. It was super easy to use and create circuits; the magnets and color-coding made it make a good amount of sense. If anything, the magnets made it a bit difficult to keep our circuits together. But all in all, it was my first time working with machines in this way and it was a positive experience.
How would you use the littleBits Smart Home Kit to connect your home to the Internet of Things?
I would create a circuit that would, at a certain time each morning, turn on my coffee machine. (I would prepare it with grounds and water the night before.) Then, when the coffee is done, it would turn the machine off and send a text message to my phone to tell me that the coffee is ready. :)