My first physical computing project was to create a device that had 1 input and 1 output. Being interested in assistive technology, I was inspired to create a prototype for children on the autistic spectrum.
Twinkle-B is a special needs toy that detects stress and anxiety in young children on the autistic spectrum. Many children on the spectrum find it difficult to communicate, leading to frustration and sometimes what is known as a meltdown. The idea behind Twinkle-B is to allow the child to visually see how they are feeling by using a ‘galvanic skin response’ sensor and LED lights. Although the product is in its first steps, it will eventually be able to measure other kinds of emotions and visually record it. Not only will the child be able to see it, but the parent will be able to see and record the emotions through the output. Most of all it is done in a fun yet simple way!
I wasn’t quite able to make the bear detect stress though. After lots of hours/days/weekends spent trying to figure out how to detect pulse rate with a GSR, I eventually thought to learn more at a later date, but just detect changes in temperature for now, to show what the cuddly could potentially do at a later date.
It was a funny and cool process. I tried with several different components and mediums. One thing I tried to use was Adafruit’s ‘Flora’ circuit, neopixels and conductive thread, which was a BAD idea as i’m a terrible sewer and not one pricked myself several times, But I also burnt myself (when the thread connected to ground and the thread connected to power touched) and also the tester product (good thing I brought more than one bear!)
However, I learnt a lot about what I works well and what doesn’t work so well in this sort of product and have a bunch of new idea on what I could do for my final project as a sort of follow on for this one!