For our physical computing midterm project, my team (which included the wonderful Wajma Mohseni and Wang Yang) developed a fun installation to track and encourage healthy eating in a shared kitchen or break room.
And now on to the details.
Collectabite was an idea borne from our belief in:
- HEALTH, particularly nutrition
- COMMUNITIES influencing eating habits
- SOCIAL ACTIVITIES that are fun and that can positively influence healthy eating!
How does it work?
Collectabite is a shared nutrition system that tracks how often people are eating fruits and vegetables, and highlights the positive habits of individuals and the group.
A day in the life of a Collectabiter:
Solange is a busy techie at a startup firm. She eats an apple at 11am instead of grabbing her usual danish. Feeling happy with herself, she high fives Lil’ Collectabite in the kitchen to register her apple consumption. “You go girl!” it yells out in encouragement. It takes a photo of her from a camera which is projected onto a public screen for everyone to see: “Solange the Healthy Superstar” using a cool picture format. The eat-o-meter goes up by one on the screen, getting closer to the company’s combined goal for the day. Now everyone will know Solange is eating healthy and contributing to the community goal.
The collectabite information is fed into a website, where pictures of healthy eaters are stored, the meter is monitored, and discussion forum + social media feeds are streamed.
Once the community goal is reached, Lil’ Collectabite shouts out and cheers. The information will be fed into a tweet or website so all members of Collectabite are notified (and if companies or organizations wish, rewards can even be provided!). The meter is refreshed for a new week of healthy eating. If the goal is not reached, it will be recorded and tracked.
Collectabite is built using serial communication between an Arduino micro-controller and the Processing development environment. The user registers a healthy eating action by high fiving our apple figure (aka “Lil’ Collectabite”). Using force-sensing resistors that we calibrate, we are able to determine exactly when a high five has been registered by the system.
Once the system has been triggered, Processing takes over. Each High Five produces the following action:
- An encouraging sound or song is played (using the Processing minim library). For example, “You Go Girl!” or a series of cheering.
- A series of photos are taken to document who just registered the healthy action and at what level the meter is currently. An animated .gif is created (using the gifAnimation library in Processing), shown on the public screen for everyone to see in person, and uploaded to a website that everyone in the group has access to. The website allows for even more public recognition of the healthy individuals as well as a tracking system of the meter.
- The meter goes up by 1.
- If the goal has not yet been reached, the system remains open and someone else can high five Lil’ Collectabite.
- If the goal has been reached, a final “winning” song is played and the system resets.
Video on the User Interaction
Visual Display of the digital system:
Image of the physical installation:
Video on the making of Collectabite