UIST Student Competition

Our proposal to the UIST Student Competition has been accepted!
The team consists of:
Point-of-contact: Gradeigh D. Clark
Victor Kaiser-Pendergrast
Elie Rosen
Yulong Yang
Faculty Adviser: Janne Lindqvist

This year’s competition focuses on innovations with the Kinoma Create. From what I gathered while doing research for this, the Create is a maker kit designed for software developers. Apparently coders have a lot of trouble doing hardware projects with Arduino and sensors? I didn’t know that was a problem that needed to be filled, but a successful crowdfunding venture says otherwise.

The creators describe the device as a “The JavaScript-Powered Internet of Things Construction Kit”. I look at it as an Arduino with a 3″ display unit on it. They really want web developers involved in maker projects and they are really into using JavaScript. Extremely into the idea. Constantly, the notion that because this thing uses JavaScript it must be easier to use. I’ve never had that experience (though I’ve been told it’s “because of user error”).

Not to mention the Kinoma Platform Runtime has this frightening “plus”: “Created by architects of QuickTime, Apple Media Tool, and iShell”
The architects of QUICKTIME worked on this? Yikes.

Some thoughts when looking at their specifications:

Speaker and microphone – I don’t know why, but the speakers made me think of this

No breadboard required for many breakout-board-based sensors – The video on the website showed 2(I think?) projects that had external breadboards dot dot dot

Custom, lightweight Linux distribution to support the Kinoma platform – This never fails to strike fear in my heart.

PWM (3) – Well, on Arduino, every pin is a PWM … 🙂

After “much” brainstorming, our ideas were:

  1. Ephemeral Locks – Use the touchscreen interface with a companion application to do dynamic locking of any door in the house (or near the Kinoma)
  2. Privacy-preserving occupancy detection – Use the Kinoma with various sensors to determine where occupants are. We wanted to do it do differentiate children from adults, but ultimately this devolves to an IR sensor.
  3. Gesture recognition for activities – This was a cool concept but endlessly difficult to execute in the time frame that we had. The idea would be based on concepts from this, using only WiFi signals to distinguish gestures and translate those into home-based actions depending on user data. Well, maybe it can still be done.
  4. Retrofitting – Use the Kinoma display in conjunction with actuary/haptic/control sensors to automatically control the shower heat. I still like this idea but the rest of the team wasn’t so hot about it (ha ha ha).
  5. Kitchen management – Use a barcode scanner in conjunction with the Kinoma display in the kitchen to manage food inventories.

Ultimately, we went with the last one. Since the Kinoma allows for the creation of easy companion applications for Android/iOS integration we ended up actually eliminating a barcode scanner for the proposal. Instead, we’ll implement a barcode scanner that will talk to our Kinoma via a smartphone. Of course, we’re not that hardworking so it will likely only be an Android application.

Finally, the conference this year is in Honolulu. While that’s great for a vacation spot, it increases the travel expenses significantly for people who are there to just demo a project like this. In previous years, they offered a prize between $1500-$2000 for the winning team, which would be enough to recoup the cost of a single student flying to present the finished product. Last year it was Surface tablets. While the Surface is a pretty nifty device, it doesn’t pay the bills. Here’s hoping they announce some kind of prize soon because right now that page has no details.

Also, we don’t get the Kinoma unless we register for the conference first! This is insurance to force us to go, but it puts a market price on this thing at ~$350. Boo.