SHDC#4 – I sense a theme…

SHDC#4 seemed to have a lot to do with sensing forces.

Rob was suffering from a fractured elbow as a result of a bike accident. But as they say, the best thing to do is get back on so he was working on his plans to pimp up his bike with pretty much every sensor you can imagine. He was still able to use a tablet PC to sketch out various ideas for measuring air and wind speed. I love drawing diagrams by hand so am very jealous of it! Next time you need a diagram in some document, try the pen, paper and scanner route over visio/powerpoint.

Henry bought us cake and novely beers, and got in to the force sensing thing too. I had some FlexiForce sensors lying about which we started to look at for another monitoring idea. They seemed interesting but measuring 1 dimension didn’t seem to cut it. So a google or so later our eyes were opened to the existence of 6-axis force sensors! So the plan is to get hold of something like that and see if we can get anything useful out of it.

FlexiForce and 6-Axis Sensors

My task for the afternoon was to try out an accelerometer. They are really popular now so easy to get hold of, and I love the fact you can use them to determine orientation (thanks Newton!). So my idea was to mock up a little tilt based interface. So I hooked up an LCD and an accelerometer:

Tip and Touch LCD

My first test app just moved a horizontal and vertical line at a speed based on the tilt direction; this seemed to work fine.

I then thought i’d try something a little more interesting, and basically simulate the lines having mass/momentum (i.e. move to the tilt controlling acceleration rather than speed). With a few tweaks to the multipliers and maximums, this seemed to work quite nicely too. My final touch was to allow you to hold the lines with a finger (i.e. zero their speed).

Mixing a touchscreen and accelerometer makes for a pretty intuative interface.

Good stuff! I’ll aim for the next SHDC around the end of january (maybe Sat 26th January? – check SHDC group to keep track).

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