Hackaday Prize Entry: Emoticon Keyboard

The Internet is raising an entire generation that can speak entirely in emoticons. This reverses the six thousand year old evolution of written language and makes us (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻. It is, however, fun. There is a problem with these newfangled emoticons: no one actually types them; they’re all copied and pasted. This is inefficient, and once again technology is here to save us once again.

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [Duncan] is working on an EmojiPad. It’s a (mechanical!) keyboard for typing emoticons, but it can also be used for gaming, CAD design, or as a USB MIDI device.

The keyboard uses 16 Cherry MX switches in a standard diode matrix configuration. This is a USB keyboard, and for the controller, [Duncan] is using an ATMega328 with the V-USB library This is all well-worn territory for the mechanical keyboard crowd, so to spice things up, [Duncan] is going to add individually addressable LEDs underneath each keycap. The ATMega328 doesn’t have enough pins to do this the normal way, so all the LEDs will be Charlieplexed.

A keyboard for emoticons demands custom keycaps, but [Duncan] is having a hard time finding a good solution. Right now he’s planning on using blank keycaps with vinyl decals, a somewhat expensive option at $1 USD a keycap. A better, even more expensive option exists, but for something as ephemeral as an emoticon keyboard a sticker will do just fine.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring Emotiphone!

emotiphone

Instructables user [zvizvi] was working on putting together a portfolio for his application into Industrial Design school, and thought it would be neat to repurpose an old rotary phone that used to belong to his grandmother.

He originally had pretty lofty goals for the phone, but eventually pared back his vision to include one-way communications to Twitter. After gutting the phone of its unnecessary parts, he got busy installing LEDs behind the dialer’s finger holes. The LEDs were connected to an MCP23017 I/O expander, which takes its direction from an Arduino he crammed into the phone’s shell.

When the receiver is lifted from the cradle, the Arduino initiates a connection to the Internet via the WiFly shield he installed. Once he dials a number, the Arduino translates the digit into a predefined emoticon, posting it to his Twitter page. While the emoticons are not quite as descriptive as the messages from the Tweeting Roomba we featured earlier this week, they relay his mood just fine.

It’s a fun project, and it happened to get [zvizvi] into the design school he was applying at, so we can’t ask for much more than that.