Action at a Distance - project overview
"Action at a Distance" is my final project for the Physical Computing class.
It consists of four separate lamps, lit with multicolor LEDs, that display the same pattern of lights in response to gestures, no matter how widely separated. (Well, within radio range).
What do I like about the project?
* Gesture control of the lamps is fun, especially since the response is immediate.
* The instant synchronization of the lamps, all separated, is attractive and engaging.
* It's attractive - I would not mind having it in my house. (This was actually a primary design goal)
Click on the thumbnails below to see pictures of the lamps on display:
Read past the link for more detailed information, including links to related posts:
The project was inspired by my midterm project, a gesture sensitive lamp for attracting attention in restaurants. I realized that project was more interesting for the interaction, than for the practical application.
I defined the project as a cluster of intelligent lamps, where the big step forward would be using radios to synchronize the lamps.
In order to drive the multicolor LEDs without using all the outputs on the microcontroller, I used AD5206 digital potentiometers.
Radio communications was handled with Zigbee radios from Maxtream. There were some challenges involved in using them, but with Rob Faludi's invaluable help, I was able to get everything running well.
A key part of the project was defining a simple protocol for lamp communications. Since I had not finalized my design for the interactions, the protocol is more general than it needs to be. In the end, I only used the commands related to lighting lamps, signalling that a lamp has turned on (and needs to be synchronized) and for reporting status.
Physical construction was straighforward. I used white foamcore in the interests of time, though in future I will rebuild the lamps with plexiglass. The most time-consuming part of assembly was building the wiring harnesses for the sensors and the LEDs, which involved a lot of delicate soldering work. The end result looks OK, and setting up the LEDs to reflect against a white background gives a nice diffuse effect.
As of this writing, the lamps have been functioning continuously for over 24 hours, so the code seems reliable. I notice occasional glitches probably due to the loss of data sent over wireless.
Future plans for the lamps:
* Rebuild in plexiglass
* Adaptive behaviour to lack of activity
* Better display routine
* More complete implementation of gesture processing