Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Future thoughts

Through using the blog and in-person meeting and group work we were able to produce the SoundSense Glasses meeting most of our goals, however, there were some features we would change for future versions:
  1. Use real circuit boards. With enough time and resources, we could produce very small circuit boards to store the components
  2. Attempt to use smaller batteries. Possibly using the original 2x 3V CR2032 batteries we would be able to further reduce size and make the hardware truly head-mounted
  3. Fix the light and microphone to strict positions. This was a problem as the LEDs were uneven on each side, however the glasses are still effective as-is so this issue is less serious
  4. Add a cone for the microphones/use better quality microphones. The microphones were very sensitive to wind or direct contact, but it took a loud sound to trigger them otherwise
  5. Add a sensitivity option and a true off switch. These two ideas would make the device much easier to use, as it could be turned off or dulled down when in an environment with lower sound levels. In the Multimedia tutorial room the conversations of others were able to trigger the LEDs in low tones
However, despite these minor changes, the glasses turned out very successful for us and truly do work well for drawing attention to directional sounds. We were very glad to stick within the budget of $20 (at $19.99 including the price of the glasses), making this technology open and affordable for all!

We'd like to see more technologies like this in the future, and were surprised with how quickly a device like the SoundSense Glasses could be made.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's working!

Our glasses are working! Although we found a funny mistake that we made while assembling both of the circuits, their second op-amps were disconnected! However, this is great as we can reduce the size of the two separate circuits to fit on one "breadboard" and make the device more portable (now it can be carried in a shirt pocket).

The weight is also not too bad, at around the same weight as the 9v battery it needs for power, here's some images of the final production of the SoundSense Glasses!

After this circuit board was reduced in size and wires run, we ran the wires to the glasses and attached the LEDs and microphones:

We then tested it out to see if it worked in this short video:
Finally, Tasneem and Peter modelled the glasses for us in class.

Some fun facts:
  • After a capacitor had slipped out of the board it was reconnected in the wrong place and fried one of our LEDs, oops!
  • We also fried a 2N4402 NPN transistor
  • We spent hours attempting to find why the circuit wouldn't work at first, this is probably related to accidentally bypassing the second Op-Amp

Development phase

We started developing the circuit from the example and luckily were able to find all the components we needed in the donated electronics kit, saving us around $3 towards development costs. This is even luckier as otherwise we bought the glasses for $5, a microphone for $9.99, and a pack of battery connectors for $4.99, making the "total" cost $19.99, one penny short of the limit.

While trying to re-create the circuit from Instructables we tweaked the capacitors and resistors until it worked well with a 6v power source made from two 3V CR 2032 batteries.

After some hours of trial and error, were able to get the circuits lighting up to sound! Here is a video of our progress so far showing the varying light levels and 6v power source in action:

With the circuits working, we aim to bring the size down to fit on a single board. However, we have found some bugs/changes to be made in the final prototype:
  • The 9v battery has better performance than the 6v supply, so this will be the power source of choice
  • A variable resistor does not affect the circuit enough to accurately set sensitivity, so there will instead be a mechanical way to alter the angle of the microphones as needed.
  • The LEDs are very directional, so these too will need to be adjustable to the viewers' comfort

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Assembly and Next Steps

We are making our circuit based on the Instructables example by Qs ( http://www.instructables.com/id/A-wearable-sound-to-light-display-without-a-micro/ ), however we plan to modify the design as follows:
-Use parts we've found such as from broken microphones and the electrical component kit donated by Brett Hull
-Use one LED instead of multiple
-Use two CR2032 batteries on each side of the head rather than two 9v battery sources (combined to form a 6v power source)
-Fit the design to a pair of glasses, or as an attachment added to glasses
-Add a variable resistor to allow sensitivity adjustment for each side of the head (eg: when walking on the right sidewalk you will be more concerned with sounds of cars from the left, and can switch the right side off to avoid distraction and save battery life)
We aim for battery life to last just under 10 hours rather than the 20 hours estimate given on Instructables. This is based on the average 9V battery having 500mAh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine-volt_battery#Technical_specifications ), while the CR2032's have on average 200mAh ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CR2032_battery )
This is the materials list of the Instructables version of the circuit:

Electret microphone
LM358 - Op-amp (8-pin DIP)
2N4401 - NPN general transistor (other audio NPN-types)
10k resistor x 5
2.2k resistor x 1
470k resistor x 1 (Can also be 330k)
100-ohm resistor x 1
1uF capacitor x 1
0.1uF capacitor x 1
9-volt battery and connector x 1
Perf-board and mounting parts
And now we start to put this together!

Starting to Assemble the Parts

Here is all of the parts we acquired. Next step is sorting them and putting together parts for the glasses.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Materials mostly ready & Friday meetup

Hi guys,

With just under 5 days left here's where we are at:

I've had some donations to our project from a friend (who gave us his whole electrical kit from when he was in college), and the nice guys at Letterbox games store who gave me some old microphones (large style, but maybe we can get parts from them) from Singstar for PS2.

This means we have nearly everything we need now, probably just need a soldering iron, circuit board (might not be needed), and soldering wire to start piecing it together, although we don't have many op-amps so we'll need to take care in testing the circuitry.

Are we all good to meet up Friday again at 4pm to discuss this, and figure out how we'll be assembling the parts?

In the mean time, here's an image of all the development materials we have, the total paid components would be only the LED + battery combo packs (at $2.97 each + tax), and the extra PC microphone (small black one, the small white one is broken from my closet, but I think the microphone piece will still work).

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

First draft of the sound sensing glasses

Here's the first draft of our idea we came up with in class today:

Name: Not sure yet, SoundSense?

1. What is it?
An attachment for glasses, or at least using the frame of a pair of glasses, to mount LED's on each side of the wearers head, which are then wired to microphones on each side of the head.

The microphones pick up sound levels, and depending on a sensitivity switch on the side, will change brightness for each LED respectively.

In order to only show sounds beside and behind the wearer, the microphone should also have a small cone to direct sound input from the sides and back.

2. How do we build it?
I think we can do this with some basic electric components, including 2 microphones, 2 LED's, some wires, and a variable resistor. We have some contacts who know electrical stuff that might be able to give us some insight into the circuitry.

We will also need to decide on battery size, I'm currently thinking two watch batteries on each side of the glasses might work, but I'm not sure how much power will be drawn by the microphone and LEDs.

Lastly, we need to make sure it looks good, so once we get the components working we can modify the design to make it more discrete.

3. How do we test it?
We should probably test it by using ear plugs, if it can alert us to nearby cars/trucks, or other loud noises behind and beside us, then it should be useful for people who are hard of hearing.

It should also avoid being too distracting

4. How do we market it?
I think we should expect this to be a successful product if it works, so maybe we should prepare some marking plan and basic advertising videos and material. Maybe we can help the world with this!

And finally, here's a kind of "first concept" sketch, very rough but showing the placement of important components:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We're all here! Brainstorming begins :D

Okay, so we're all here now, and at the moment our blog is hidden from others. We can discuss our idea freely here and keep a better record than verbal discussion.

Here's some really first-draft idea's I've had (feel free to add yours as posts or comments!):

1. New musical instrument: This could be something like a special synthesizer for portable music-making, maybe have some basic recording function as well. If this sounds good and is cheap enough then we could even sell them for real.

2. Portable light: Based on Nikola Tesla's wireless lightbulb, maybe we could make a powerful LED light that is wirelessly powered from a base unit (running on batteries). Could be useful for illuminating a scene at night?

3. Point-to-point communication: I guess this is kind of like a walkie talkie, but I was thinking if we make it directional then it can go further distances. Probably not a great idea.

Materials I have currently:

-$20 portable bluetooth powerful 3W speaker (brand new, so it uses our whole "bought" budget, and I'd really not want to take it apart). It's a few inches tall and wide.

-2x Wireless motion controllers (like Wii controllers), price when bought new at Princess Auto was $5, and they work a lot better than expected! (we can probably take these apart, but they're compact as-is and use semi-touchscreen buttons)

-An old/used Windows Mobile 6.1 PDA/phone, I can program software for this but can't see it used for much (aside from being a part of the synthesizer idea?), battery life is okay enough that it counts as portable. Free - Counts as found low-tech items, but I also don't want to take it apart.

-An old/used DOS laptop, I can program for this too but the battery is shot so it needs to stay plugged in at all times. Also counts as free low-tech, but again not something I'd like to take apart if we use it.

I'm thinking of checking out the dollar store and other "junk stores" downtown for the older tech stuff. Maybe we can even grab an old CRT TV and combine that into the synthesizer idea to make a visual aspect of the performance?

Other resources:

-My dad is pretty good at basic electric circuits (he taught this as part of the technology program in my school in England), he also has the knowledge of basic plastic moulding and wood and metal working.

-Two of my friends at work are qualified electricians, one is more into grid power and the other does electrical circuits, both are great at fabrication and fixing things

-A third friend/co-worker is good at tinkering with electrical circuits, and may be able to help us out too

Monday, September 30, 2013


Okay, here's our blog! Right now only logged-in authors can view posts and reply to them, so this is a great time to brainstorm ideas and then go public with the ones we like!