The saying “There’s power in numbers” perfectly defines the idea of IOT. A web of interconnecting sensors and devices storing their input online to be used in later applications. The more sensors gathering data the more data there is to use and thus applications to be made with it. We felt due to the vast possibilities within IOT we should try and create a device aimed at helping anyone with difficulty conducting themselves on a day to day basis; particularly the visually impaired.
What it does
HAACS aims to aid those who are visually impaired by creating an IOT infrastructure where various analog and digital sensors (i.e. Light sensors, ultrasonic sensors, pressure sensors) are connected to wifi allowing them to store their data for later use. HAACS then relays that information to the users phone where it is then converted into audio and sent via bluetooth to a pair of bone conduction speakers (mounted onto some glasses) where the user can be updated in real time.
How we built it
HAACS was initially thought to made using a Raspberry Pi 3 or Arduino however we later decided to use the ESP8266 module for its extensive wifi capabilities. The LED’s were then controlled via a Grove light sensor. Because of how the ESP-8266 is designed the various digital pins on it can be used exactly like an Arduino’s, declaring them as an input or output; meaning the addition of more sensors (i.e. Ultrasonic, pressure, etc.) is much easier. The wifi chip was then connected to a third party server where the data was sent to a smartphone. The smartphone then sent the information to the bone conduction speakers. The speakers were then mounted onto a pair of glasses and connected to a bluetooth module for easy connection.
Challenges we ran into
When making HAACS the greatest problems we ran into occured when setting up a wifi server or network. We initially thought to use the Arduino Uno along with its Wifi shield to host a simple web page. However, after countless errors we decided to switch to using the ESP-8266 and instead host its own webpage. And due to slow speed and unreliability we then chose to connect the chip to a 3rd party server due to its ease of access.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We’re most proud of successfully setting up the light sensor even though the hackerboard isn’t designed to directly take analog input. And along with setting up the sensor, sending its data across wifi to a phone is also an accomplishment due to the many obstacle we had when trying to establish a stable connection. In addition, even though some members in our team are rookie hackers we still managed to finish early!
What we learned
Because of the many obstacle we faced during this years Mhacks, we were forced to create many iterations of HAACS where we used completely different forms of transferring data from microcontroller to phone. At first we used an Arduino but later realized that the Hackboard can be written using the same Arduino IDE all while having stable connection to the wifi.
What's next for HAACS
Due to how open ended IOT is, HAACS has many possibilities moving further. Firstly, we plan to incorporate the XDK in later iterations possibly using it as a humidity or temperature sensor. Also as of right now HAACS is primarily a one way system that provides the user with information without actually allowing them to send back their own; an issue we plan to resolve by installing a mic for voice-command.