As avid cat enthusiasts we wanted to investigate what makes holding a purring cat so comforting, and how we can replicate that feeling. We found studies showing that the frequencies cats purr at lower stress, decrease blood pressure, and promote the healing of bones and soft tissue. The long list of associated health benefits inspired us to create a passive wearable that provides relief from chronic pain as well as relaxation from constant stress.

What it does

Thrum is a wearable device that utilizes frequencies ranging from 20 to 100 HZ to produce soothing vibrations in the collarbone that promote bone growth, reduce anxiety, and alleviate bone/joint pain symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis. Thrum also includes an electromyography sensor that allows the wearer to send vibration signals to other wearers by twitching their own bicep muscles. This provides wearers with a new, wireless communication method based on haptic feedback, effectively creating a "6th sense" that allows wearers to feel each other's presence over a distance.

How we built it

We generated sound files that incorporated specific frequencies that have been shown to have positive health benefits with prolonged exposure (specifically 25, 35, and 50Hz). Using the Pico i.MX7Dual development board with AndroidThings firmware we made a wearable device that plays these frequencies on a surface transducer that contacts the collarbone.

Challenges we ran into

We found out that IoT devices have unique configuration requirements due to their limited hardware capabilities, which required extensive crawling of Android Studio tutorials and documentation.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Developing on Android Things was a very new experience for all of us and it took a while to get everything set up. Based on that fact alone, we are very proud to have gotten so far along in understanding and working with this new and interesting IoT system. We are also proud to have developed our own electromyogram from raw materials to create a unique interface for communicating with people wirelessly.

What we learned

We gained valuable experience in signal processing and noise filtering, and learned about the complexities of securing user to user communication platforms.

What's next for Thrum

Our next steps are to explore the possibilities of wireless haptic communication. With more channels for user input and a broader range of received frequencies wearers could hold full conversations at a distance without every saying a word. The received message coming in the form of a vibration conducted through the bones also allows the deaf and mute to use Thrum to communicate and express themselves in new ways; a great target for future use cases.

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