Here at MIT, we are often awake late at night, p-setting or working on projects. Often, candy is what makes us persevere through the night. Being engineers, we wanted to devise a new way to dispense candy just by asking a machine to do it. Hence the M^2 Candy Dispenser came to existence.
However, we also have other visions for this projects. It can be used by parents to know the number of times their children get candy. Most of all, it can be used by blind or disabled people to obtain anything that fits into the dispenser without touching the machine.
M^2 works by using Amazon Echo to understand a voice command and turns the machine on to dispense an item - in our case, candy. It works like any other candy dispenser, except that the M^2 offers its dispensing capabilities to a wider population.
We wanted to explore the prototyping and creative powers of K'Nex, so we explored how to assemble the frame of our dispensing machine from the K'Nex parts. We used a modified water bottle to dispense the candy, and we wired a motor and the Echo to power the dispenser work. Since our project is a candy-themed one, we made sure to use as many colors as possible to liven up our project.
One of our biggest challenges was to use a raspberry pi and Amazon Echo to switch on our device based on voice commands because it was our first time using either tools. With the help of mentors and company representatives, we were able to overcome most of our challenges.
We have learned a great deal from MakeMIT, including how to use several power tools and products. We intend to take part in many more hackathons and learn more each time.