Curious Cube – Project Proposal


Your shy cubical friend that you can speak to once a day. The thing is, she needs a long time to get to know you. You’ll eventually grow on her, I promise, and she’ll let you know when it happens.

Inspired by Will Odom’s research on slow technology, I wanted to enable interactions with a “device” where long-term feedback is only triggered after receiving consistent input. In this project, user is presented with a cube. Once a day, the user tap* on the box to record a short message, which is stored in a server. After a year* of input, the box opens up and displays a message & QR code*, through which the user is presented with a website that has all their sound file archived.

* starred items are flexible

In this iteration of the project, some elements would be compromised for time’s sake. Since it’s difficult to use the Arduino as a recorder, the recording will likely happen on the computer — the cube with Arduino inside is going to act only as a controller, which lights up when listening / recording.

Bill of Materials

Hardware: Arduino, undecided sensor, OLED Screen, Servo motor / magnet (for opening the box)

Fabrication: undecided material (probably 3d printing), black pixie-glass, tears and hot glue

Software Resources: p5 sound library, Arduino BLE library, RTCZero library?

Progress Report

This week, I made a basic Arduino interaction with p5, via BLE: press to record (LED lights up), press again to stop recording, playback and download (LED turns off).

p5 sketch available here

My next steps will be 1) Figuring out the actual sensor for the box: would it be touch (Capacity?), gesture (APDS 9960), something else? 2) Start integrating the time element. Preferably I’d like to sync up with the actual clock, but I’m a bit unsure if that’s achievable without Wifi. An alternative solution would be using RTC and setting a time as close to the actual time as possible, or, even easier, just use a 24 hour interval before enabling recording again

Then, after figuring out how to record and save multiple sound files, I’d start migrating the p5 code into an HTML site to house the BLE interaction as well as the recordings.

Hopefully by this weekend I’ll start fabricating the actual box!! This would include writing code AND figuring out physics for the box opening… which would be very interesting. If I still have time after all this and am feeling ambitious, I’ll try to use a secondary Arduino as central device so that I don’t have to deal with connecting to bluetooth if I ever take my computer away from the box (which is likely).

Ok, back to tinkering…

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