My stupid pet trick is finally complete! In light of the assignment, I made a “digital neon” sign that tells the viewer whether they are ‘hot’ or ‘not.’ Interestingly, I wasn’t the only one in my class to have such a shallow (but hilarious!) idea. Matthew Rader made a “hot or not” detecting flash device.
I created the digital neon effect by aiming two super bright LEDs through a piece of 1/2″ diameter acrylic rod. I experimented with different lengths of rod, and 5″ seemed to be the right length so that there was no dim spot in the middle. Next, I sanded the outside of the rod so it diffused the light through it. I also drilled holes into either end so that I could inset my LEDs into the sides. This served a dual purpose of bouncing the light through the tubes, as well as holding the tubes in place.
Anyway, after getting some advice from my professor Tom Gerhardt and classmate Toby Schachman, I decided to mount my acrylic rods into foam core, so that the LEDs are actually what’s holding them in place. I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out since, a) I didn’t have to break out the hot glue gun so no messy glue stuff, and b) it would be fairly easy to disassemble if I wanted to repurpose / refabricate the digital neon.
When no one is standing in front of the sign it cycles through a default animation, lighting each vertical rod one after the other, in an effort to attract viewers to stand in front of the sign. An IR proximity sensor mounted to the bottom of the sign detects if a person is standing in front of the sign. This causes it to flash a few times in order to “measure” the person, then it displays one of two messages back to him/her: “Hot” or “Not.”
I was originally going to use a lower profile IR emitter and detector pair. They were working to detect motion at some point (see “Stupid Pet Trick Progress Post”), but eventually proved way too finicky and unreliable, so I switched to the more robust IR proximity sensor.
Many people have wondered how the sign can tell whether you’re attractive or not. Let’s just say it involves some pretty complex computer vision algorithms that compare the various ratios of the width vs height of your facial features….NOT! It’s random. Cuz that’s just funnier anyway.
Now, without further ado, here’s the HOT or NOT sign in action: