This is an ongoing project we made for our daughter Harpa (1 and a half years old). It's a hand sewn elephant head sculpture with microcontroller electronics inside- essentially it's a night light. It has evolved from a small paper origami elephant with blinking LEDs, to a large hand crafted elephant lamp shade with Wifi controlled RGB LEDs, microphone, speaker, and a custom designed iPad application to teach Harpa about colour.
Project was also on display at the 2014 Sydney Design Festival as part of the Protiotype Internet of Things exhibition in Central Mall Broadway.
The elephant model was designed in Blender, and 3D printed as a solid wireframe using the Shapeways service. The 3D print cost $70 and measures a fairly large 50cm wide x 50 cm high x 30cm deep. The idea with the wireframe was to hand sew all the faces onto the model, that way I could try different materials as well as save money on the 3D print (printing filled surface faces would cost thousands at that size).
The electronics are driven by an Arduino MEGA 2560 microcontroller with ethernet shield for network control. Connected to the board is a 50cm 5V RGB addressable LED strip with 30 LEDs, a 3.3V microphone module for sound detection, and an 8ohm speaker for playing back generated 'white-noise' audio. Total cost for the all the electronics was less than $100.
A custom iPad application was designed/developed which allows Harpa to learn about colour by selecting from colour presets. The main interface displays a grid of coloured elephant heads. When one is selected- the name of the colour is pronounced from the app, and the main night light changes colour.
There is a hidden control panel in the iPad app which allows me to change some of the more advanced features. For example- I can switch the 'white-noise' speaker on (this used to be the only way we could get her to sleep all night uninterrupted); I can switch on audio reactive mode which uses the microphone to detect variations in sound level to change the LED colours (great when playing music, not so much for a sleeping baby); I can also change the number of LED's, brightness, saturation, and have them auto cross fade into different colours.
Adriana Tcholakova - sewing