Whenever winter rolls around, the possible chilling of feeling when you first step out the door is unbearable to any sane human being. But with weather as unpredictable as State College you never know what you are going to get. That is when we thought there must be another way to deal with this unexpected sudden sharp frigid experience once you walk out into the unknown. We decided that a counter temperature impulse to combat this terrible experience would solve this sporadic problem. Additionally, this impulse would be needed only in the beginning when the medium, a coat, is at its coldest. This is where the dots connected themselves that a preheating coat hanger for coats would be perfect for this task. Finally we decided that to deal with days when this technology is needed less so or not needed at all without making the user look up the data themselves we wanted to implement Accuweather's API to call for the weather and temperature anywhere around the world automatically.
What it does
The smart coat hanger does an API call to Accuweather's API to query for the weather and temperature for a given location provided on a computer once. The coat hanger then proportionally heats the coat's internal temperature to a value appropriate to the outside temperature and weather and maintains it. This is to ensure that the user can enjoy a warm coat right before going outside into the frozen tundra.
How we built it
Hardware-wise we used an Arduino MEGA and RAMPS board to power the ohmic heating plate. The Arduino MEGA connected to the PC using a USB cable and currently communicates through Serial due to a lack of a Bluetooth module. The application runs in Java, doing the API call and GUI elements while the Arduino is powered by C++. Geoffrey put together most of the hardware while Justing focused his efforts on the application.
Challenges we ran into
We had immense trouble with a reliable Serial connection to the computer and were very upset that we forgot our Bluetooth module. We also had disagreement over how to attach the heating plate to the hanger. We came to the agreement of a minimalistic approach to minimize complexity and unnecessary insulation, reducing the final coat temperature.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were quite pleased that we finished with a very solid working product that worked reliably under testing. We were also happy we finished early and were able to write incredibly descriptive explanation of our hack. We were also excited that though different our backgrounds may be, we were able to come together to create a truly cool hack.
What we learned
Over the course of this hackathon, we learned a lot about how to develop a viable product prototype, a skill which we did not previously posses. We also learned a lot about how to debug an interface problem between developers where we did not know which one of us caused the minor but frustrating problem.
What's next for HeatHanger
There are quite a few next steps for team heat hanger. We would like to continue to develop our unique prototype by slimming down the hardware and finalizing more of it. We also thought that adding Kalman filtering to maintain the temperature would increase our accuracy to a responsive product. Finally, the biggest improvement would be to add wireless touch contact points so the coat hanger would be completely seamless and you would not be able to tell if it was a heat hanger or just a regular coat hanger. As a bonus, this technology can also be applied to the automotive industry such as in a GM vehicle. A heated seat can be preloaded with heat before a car is turned on based on Accuweather data proportionally to the outdoor temperature to conserve energy as compared to existing technologies.