Inspired by Tamagotchis, we decided to re-adopt a similar concept to approach a modern problem- phone addiction. We wanted something that can make letting your phone a bit rewarding and fun hence the Wholesome Little Robot
What it does
By putting your phone on top of the robot, it will start getting happier as it means you are spending time away from it engaging with more essential activities such as rest, exercise or studying. The longer the phone is with it, the happier it is and the longer the phone is with you, the sadder it gets which encourages the user to use less of the phone - when it is not important- to help make it happy.
How we built it
Using an Arduino Nano, we created a micro-controller circuit such that its sensor input determines the happiness level - which is output using LED and an OLED LCD screen which displays the pet's face.
Challenges we ran into
Initially, we planned on using a larger screen- SerLCD- but the LCD had problems with UART communications. Therefore, we opted for a smaller LCD which used I2C. Another prominent challenge was calibrating the sensor such that the phone weight was enough to give input to the Nano; we also had to resolve some issues with regards to providing sufficient pressure from the phone to generate a wider range of sensory input such that the sensor can detect and time it with little to no interruption.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The team's perseverance and insistence on bringing this idea to life was certainly the thing I am most proud of; we all wanted to continue working on this and coming up with new solutions to the plethora of problems we faced was definitely a strong accomplishment, in hindsight.
What we learned
For many of us, it was our first hackathon, so it was definitely a steep learning curve on many aspects. From time management, to teamwork, to working under time pressure (as I am writing this, there is less than 2 hours left) we certainly learned a lot. A very particular thing we have learned is the importance of constant feedback; we learned that by giving constant updates on our progress, everyone would be on the same page and try to address a problem earlier on without allowing it to build up to a much larger problem later down the line.
What's next for Wholesome Little Robot
Regardless of the outcome of the competition, I am very proud of our team and the project. Not only was it a fun experience working on it, we learned a lot from it in terms of skills and knowledge (it also unearthed a childhood fascination in Tamagotchis) There's certainly a couple of things that we can add such as more facial expressions for the bot as well as improving the overall aesthetic of the bot. Nonetheless, it was fun!
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