Arduino CirCAT Board


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A toy for humans and their cats made from a cat toy hacked with Arduino. This was in response to the ask: “Hack a toy with Arduino to create a ludic (playful) experience and enhance the existing toy experience."

My teammates for this project was Stephanie Louraine. This is one of the projects for Shaowen Bardzell’s Advanced Prototyping course at Indiana University Bloomington.

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Arduino CirCAT Board

  1. 1. Indiana University’s Human-Cat Interaction Design (HCI/d) purrogram purresents: Arduino CirCAT B ard Stepurrnie Louraine Angélicat Rosenzweigato (Stephanie Louraine) (Angélica Rosenzweig) I590 Advanced Purrototyping Fall 2013 Professor Meowen Bardzell (Shaowen Bardzell) Associacat Instructor Gopinaath Catnabiran (Gopinaath Kannabiran) Associacat Instructor Yue Paw (Yue Pan) 1
  2. 2. Our task Hack a toy with Arduino Create a ludic (playful) experience. Enhance the existing toy experience. Use two inputs and two outputs. 2
  3. 3. Cats love to play! Even the grumpiest of cats likes feathers Tardar Sauce, aka “Grumpy Cat” Used under educational fair use 3
  4. 4. Humans love their cats! The Internet is full of cat photos and videos Lil BUB Used under educational fair use Hamilton the Hipster Cat Used under educational fair use Maru Screenshot from Used under educational fair use 4
  5. 5. HCI is interested in pets too! Animal-Computer Interaction “Important recent research directly related to Animal-Computer Interaction has focussed upon companion animals and has mainly sought to develop interactive technology that aims to foster human-animal interaction while benefitting both sides of the relationship.” Mancini, C et al. “Animal-Computer Interaction SIG” (2012). CHI ‘12 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. “...[Owners] actively assume the role of animals, and infer thoughts and feelings from the animal’s perspective... [Projecting] human capabilities onto pets makes them legitimate participants in social interaction.” Noz, F et al. “Cat Cat Revolution” (2011). CHI ‘11 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 5
  6. 6. Research: Toy ethnography PetSmart, Bloomington, IN We went to a pet shop to see what cat toys already exist in the world. We were able to explore and play with a lot of different toys to test their movement, weight, etc. 6
  7. 7. Insights Cat toys are often colorful and festive, reflecting light and making sounds. 7
  8. 8. Insights Large numbers of cat toys involve some human interaction with the pet, rather than just watching. 8
  9. 9. Insights A large number of cat toys are amusing for humans just as much as cats (obviously cats don’t smoke cigars!). 9
  10. 10. Research: Our (feline) users Stephanie’s house, Bloomington, IN We studied two cats to see how they like to play, and which types of toys they love best. 10
  11. 11. Kalinka A sassy but skittish 10-year-old lady who loves playing with the ball track. 11
  12. 12. Chip An energetic 4-year-old guy who likes to attack feathers. 12
  13. 13. Concepting and ideation Sketching to explore the space Following are a few sketches showing our exploration of the cat-toy interaction space. 13
  14. 14. Keep your cat off forbidden areas Disadvantage: Not very playful 14
  15. 15. Pressure-sensing lighted cat mat Disadvantage: Cats are mostly colorblind and don’t care about different colors of light 15
  16. 16. Long-distance cat-cat interactions Disadvantage: Not sure if cats feel the need to contact distant cat companions 16
  17. 17. Training device to make cats into ninjas Disadvantage: If you can’t see your cat, you’re missing out on a lot of the fun 17
  18. 18. Our final concept Colorful, playful, and can involve many cats and humans at once 18
  19. 19. Our purrototype Arduino CirCAT Board Cats love to attack birds, feathers, and any moving objects! This prototype combines two toys (ball track and stuffed bird) into one playful, colorful toy. 19
  20. 20. How it works Tail feather wagging The ball in the track triggers a light sensor When the ball’s shadow passes over the light sensor, the servo motor (hidden in the box) wags the bird’s tail feathers 20
  21. 21. How it works Bird chirping The ball in the track triggers the flex sensor when it bounces against it The piezo speaker hidden under the cardboard wire cover makes “chirping” sounds when the flex sensor triggers 21
  22. 22. Wiring the prototype Schematics of our wiring created in Fritzing ( 22
  23. 23. The code /* Code adapted by Stephanie Louraine and Angelica Rosenzweig from the Arduino Starter Kit example Project 6 - Light Theremin by Scott Fitzgerald */ } } // turn the LED off, signaling the end of the calibration period digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW); #include <Servo.h> //servo Servo myservo; int val; void loop() { // light sensor read value val = analogRead(5); val = map(val, 0, 1023, 0, 179); myservo.write(val); // variable to hold sensor value for flexsensor int sensorValue; // variable to calibrate low value int sensorLow = 1023; // variable to calibrate high value int sensorHigh = 0; // LED pin const int ledPin = 13; int flexSensorPin = A0; //read the input from flexsensor and store it in a variable sensorValue = analogRead(flexSensorPin); Serial.println(sensorValue); // map the sensor values to a wide range of pitches int pitch = map(sensorValue, sensorLow, sensorHigh, 50, 4000); // Serial.println(pitch); void setup() { Serial.begin(9600); if (sensorValue < 290){ // play a variable tone as output tone(8, pitch, 20); delay(200); } myservo.attach(12); // Make the LED pin an output and turn it on pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH); // calibrate flex sensor for the first five seconds after program runs while (millis() < 5000) { // record the maximum sensor value sensorValue = analogRead(flexSensorPin); if (sensorValue > sensorHigh) { sensorHigh = sensorValue; } // record the minimum sensor value if (sensorValue < sensorLow) { sensorLow = sensorValue; } } else{ noTone(8); } // wait for a moment delay(100); 23
  24. 24. User testing They liked it! Both cats played with the toy! (Although shy Kalinka hid from it at first.) 24
  25. 25. User testing Humans can play too! Humans can also get in on the fun, bringing them closer to their pets and increasing enjoyment for everyone. 25
  26. 26. Video See the video of our user testing at: Scan to view on your phone! 26
  27. 27. Construction process Making of the Arduino CirCAT Board Following is a series of photos showing our general process in working with Arduino and our toys. 27
  28. 28. Trying the original toys Examining the toys to see just how we can hack them For our proof-of-concept prototype, we chose to use only a portion of the available track, just to make sure the sensors were easily triggered. 28
  29. 29. Wiring the Arduino Making the electronic components work We used online tutorials and the help of our fellow classmates to determine how to wire all of the components. 29
  30. 30. Testing and more testing Making sure it’s doing what we want it to do Before building the actual prototype, we had to test each component many times to make sure the output was what we expected. 30
  31. 31. Putting the hacked toy together Hooking the sensors up to the toy We used hot glue to affix the toy together with our various sensors and other electronic components. 31
  32. 32. Covering the wires Making sure the cats can’t chew through the wires For safety of both our cat users and our toy, we covered the wires and Arduino board using an inexpensive cardboard box that we decorated with paw-print paper. 32
  33. 33. Reflection Thinking about materials and our process Originally we planned to add a feather that shakes, and LEDs to attract the cats’ attention depending on where the ball hit. We quickly decided not to use LEDs as it did not add much to the experience, and it would have gone mostlyunnoticed by the cats. We added a piezo speaker instead to buzz when the ball pressed on it. While tuning the piezo, we started calling the beeping “the bird chirp”, and we tuned it to a noise that resembles a bird. As we were setting the pieces in their final spots, we realized we could integrate a toy bird easily. 33
  34. 34. Lessons learned Things we’ll remember in the future Prototyping is about playing We eagerly iterated to improve our prototype aesthetically as well as functionally. We believe this was because we were having a lot of fun. Playing with Arduino as we started was essential to getting us excited about the technology, and triggered ideas for possible applications. Don’t rebuild the wheel (or code) Rapid prototyping embraces the idea of proofof-concept. It is OK to reuse code and repurpose existing solutions to fit our concept. As long as it illustrates the interaction and it works, it’s fair game. Tutorials, Youtube, and other people are key Leverage existing knowledge for troubleshooting and to gain insights as to why something might not work. 34
  35. 35. Ideas for the future Things we want to try out next! We’d love to play around some more and try out the following with Arduino: • Something wearable (cat collar Arduino?) • A cat tracker (to easily find where they’re hiding) • Embedding sensors in the house (ambient detection) • Something that we could use on a regular basis (hacking or augmenting daily use items) 35
  36. 36. Spurrcial thanks We a-paw-reciate the help from the following: Austin Toombs IU’s HCI/d 2014 litter (cohort) 36