For this second project, we had to create something with multiple inputs and outputs. Thus, I considered two possibilities: 1) create a completely new project with different dynamics and switches or 2) build up a new system with more inputs and outputs based on my previous project. After much pondering, I decided to go with the second option and continue with my main purpose of connecting people through lights, making it only possible for the lights to turn on solely if people connected or collaborated.
The first thing I decided to do to expand this project was to add more switches by creating four more bracelets. I first considered making people do different poses or hand gestures that would cause different light patterns to emerge. I also thought of writing a code that would make the longer the connection between the bracelets the more complex the patterns for the light. In the end, I decided these ideas were a bit too complex to follow through, so I settled with the concept of making something that would change the light patterns shown depending on the combination of connected bracelets. After considering how I would implement this both physically in the Arduino and in the written code, I realised the difficulty of altering the switches in such a way as to allow this outcome. Therefore, I decided that the light patterns would change according to the number of connections made rather than the combination of bracelets. For instance, if no bracelets connected, all the lights would be turned off. As more bracelets started connecting, more patterns would ensue.
Initially, only 4 LEDs were placed in a single-file line. It was until later that I decided to add them to another breadboard and place them in a circle to make the patterns more elaborate.
The following video shows an example of my next attempt at making different light patterns depending on the number of connections made.To explain a bit fully, there were initially going to be 7 patterns. If bracelets A1 and A2 touched, switch A (first connection) was made, and pattern 1 would occur, if switches A and B were on, pattern 2 would occur, and this would continue on. In the following video, there are two patterns shown. The first pattern lit up due to the first connection, and the second occurred due to the addition of a second one.
After writing the code for the next 5 patterns, I started thinking that perhaps my idea was too simple. What was truly the point of making different combinations with the switches? What message did I want to convey? After considering this for a long while, I decided to change my approach and relate the idea of connections to heartbeats. Now, depending on the number of connections, the LEDs’ flickering would simulate that of a heartbeat. When less connections were made between the bracelets, less lights would turn on and the slower the flickering, simulating a “normal” heartbeat. Once more connections were made, more lights would flicker in unison and the faster the flickering would become, culminating in all the lights being turned on. In this manner, I wanted to simulate the excitement that surges through connections and relationships with others. I searched through various online sources and youtube videos on normal to accelerating human heartbeats to try to make the flickering of my LEDs the most accurate.
Links to codes:
- Link to the first code (only containing certain patterns and combinations).
- Link to the final code with heartbeat flickers.
The following video shows the outcome of making two connections (or joining four bracelets together).
This next video shows the final product and what occurs when more and more connections are made. As is shown in the video, as more bracelets are joint together, the faster and the higher the number of flickering LEDs. The purpose of this final product is for six people to put the bracelets on and play along with the combinations to see the simulation of the heartbeats through the LEDs. As can be seen, once more and more connections start occurring, the more lights flicker and the faster they go.
All in all, this was a very lengthy project that, although seemingly simple, turned out to to take approximately 5 to 6 hours. The process of writing the code was a bit tedious, since a very minuscule error in syntax led me to a 2 hour delay of simply debugging and trying to figure out which components of the code were incorrect. Other than this, the code was full of “if conditions” that were initially difficult to get a hang of but were still manageable. The process that took the longest occurred once I decided to change my initial idea of having multiple patterns to the final heartbeat project, since I had to adjust the code to the new idea and had to change the circuits from a single file line to a circle with a larger number of LEDs. Finally, if I had more time and more knowledge on Arduinos, I would have implemented sound into the project, as to make the sound of an actual heartbeat accompany the flickering of the LEDs. This would definitely add to the whole experience of connections between people with these bracelets.