Friday, February 25, 2011

Concept 2: Flower Power

Wasted electricity has become a social issue in recent years. With growing awareness of “dirty” energy (such as coal) many green interests have expressed an interest in reducing our power usage. Hydro companies have jumped on this as a chance to charge people for every kW they consume. Which has, in turn, led to a rise of energy metres.

However, these energy metres were made with the Hydro companies in mind, not the home owner. Such readouts only show a number - a poor indicator of the side effects power saving grants. We wish to make a power metre that will show this relationship more directly. Our proposal is called Flower Power.

Flower Power takes the form of a block that plugs into the wall. On top of the plug is a flower, which glows when plugged in. The block itself offers a power socket, allowing another device to be attached.

The flower is an indicator of power consumption. If the attached device exceeds a predetermined power amount over a given time, then the flower begins to “wilt”. It grows more limp and the light loses some of its brightness. Extended time will cause the flower to lose more of its life, until it hangs completely limp and the light turns out. This indicates that the flower has lost its “life” to keep the device working.
If the device stops drawing power, then the flower will begin to regenerate. It will slowly stand up and begin to glow again. This indicates that the flower can recover if you give it time.

Exact measurements will be conducted with an Arduino board attached to a CT sensor. This setup is inspired from the project found here. The Arduino board will draw power from one plug while the other is forwarded to the user for the appliance. The board will respond to the power drawn by controlling the flower’s limpness and brightness. The brightness will be handled by one or more LED’s in the centre of the flower itself. The limpness will either be controlled by muscle wire or a motor and string run along a stem made of chain.

Concept 1: Healthy Sleep

Unhealthy sleep is a common problem these days, especially among students in high school or university. Disruption of sleeping patterns can lead people to feel awake or sleepy when they should feel the reverse. We thought to give people a visual indication of how healthy their sleep patterns are. While direct readouts could give a precise answer, it doesn’t convey the feeling of being tired or awake. So, we thought to give that across with a human analogue: a mannequin.

A drooping mannequin easily shows tiredness, while a standing one indicates wakefulness. Making the mannequin reflect the user’s sleepiness will draw more attention to it and hopefully encourage reflection on how tired they feel. It is our hope that this will result in improved sleeping patterns for the users.

The Healthy Sleep prototype is comprised of an Arduino board, a mannequin which represents your wakefullness and at least one accelerometer which will attach to the user’s mattress. Inspired from the Sleep Cycle app for the iPhone, the Arduino will detect when you are asleep or awake - then use this data to estimate your current wakefullness. The mannequin will be adjusted accordingly through the use of a pull-string on a motor or a piece of muscle wire.