Facial recognition software can tell when you’re frustrated with Xbox Live

Most of us have been faced with the anguish of being shot in the head repeatedly by 12-year-olds. There are also the times when we’re overjoyed by defeating the Mother Brain and making it out of the caverns of Zebes. If we wanted to scientifically quantify how happy, sad, or angry we are while playing video games, we wouldn’t know what to do. [Dale] came up with a very interesting way to gauge someone’s state of mind while either playing Xbox, or watching TV.

To get a measure of how happy or sad he is, [Dale] put a webcam underneath his TV and pointed it towards his couch. Every 15 seconds or so, the webcam snaps a picture and sends if off to the face.com API. After face.com sends a blob of JSON containing information about all the faces detected in the photo, a short Python script plots it on a graph.

[Dale] admits he’s not entirely scientific with this project; the low resolution of the webcam, coupled with images being captured every 15 seconds means he runs into the limitations of his hardware very quickly. Also, there’s the confound of [Dale] paying attention to something else in the room – like his kids – rather than the TV. Still, it’s an interesting use of hardware and software that would be loved by a market researcher or QA designer.

Kid-friendly RFID media center playlist control

rfid-dreambox-control

While young children have the tiny hands and fingers that most hackers/tinkerers wish they possessed from time to time, their fine motor skills aren’t always up to par when it comes to operating complicated electronics. People are always looking for ways to make their home entertainment systems accessible to their kids, and [Humpadilly] is no exception. Much like some of the other hacks we’ve seen this week, he has devised a way for his little ones (1 and 2 years old) to control his Dreambox Media Player using RFID, which seems to be the go-to technology for this sort of thing.

His RFID remote consists of three major components aside from the media player itself. An Arduino runs the show, and is connected to both an Ethernet shield and a breakout board fitted with an ID-20 RFID reader module. The Ethernet shield allows the Arduino to talk to his Dreambox over a telnet connection, while the RFID reader does what you would expect.

The device is in its infancy at the moment, and while [Humpadilly] hasn’t published a ton of details about the actual RFID devices he is using to control the system, he says that more details and improvements are forthcoming. In the meantime, you can check out his code here.

Combine 2 Non-Working Sony TVs into One That Works

Have you ever wondered if you could fix your two broken LCD TVs by combining them? Neither had we, but [Redion] did, and the answer is yes, it can be done.  Although it may sound like a serious kludge, the finished product actually looks quite nice from the view provided.  On the other hand, we don’t know how the internals will hold up, but it apparently works well now.

For this hack, the working internals from a  32 inch Sony LCD TV with a broken display were combined with a 40 inch Sony LCD TV that had an undamaged display but fried internals.  Although this would most likely not work for every TV out there, it’s still a pretty neat experiment. Many people would simply assume something like this would not work, and trash both TVs.  We would suggest the new TV be named “Nomad”, just avoid wearing a red shirt around it.

Keep in mind with any TV hack, taking one apart can expose you to large capacitors that may or may not be charged and can be quite dangerous (they can stay charged for a long time).  We don’t necessarily recommend duplicating anything here, but use extreme caution if attempting anything like this.

RCA DSB772WE teardown shows that this cheap streaming box might have potential

RCA-DSB772WE

[David Anders] wrote in to share some details of a cheap little gadget he picked up at his local Wal-Mart. He scored the RCA DSB772WE media streaming box for $48, and so far it looks like it could be a promising addition to his living room.

He started a project page for the box, detailing some of his findings thus far. The device is MIPS based and runs the Linux kernel version 2.6.28.9 right out of the box. The networking components are based on the Broadcom BCM7615 chipset, though it looks to [David] that the Ethernet jack was removed at some point during production.

So far, he’s managed to get a serial console running on the device, along with an additional USB host connection. That’s about all the poking around he has done thus far, but seeing as the box can output a 1080p signal over HDMI, it could be a cheap substitute for an Apple TV or similar device.

If you happen to have one of these at home, or are planning on buying one, be sure to check out his project page and contribute any information you might be able to glean from it. We’re sure [David] would appreciate it, and we certainly look forward to seeing what else comes out of his hacking adventures.

Siri as a lippy and sometimes profane television remote

If the addition of Siri to your iPhone has given you a somewhat-real life companion (and hope that you might not be forever alone) this hack is right up your alley. [Todd Treece] built a hardware fixiture for the living room which bridges the gap between Apple’s new digital assitant and your television.

The box itself is an Arduino with a WiFly shield and the hardware necessary to make it a universal infrared remote control. He mounted it on the underside of his end table, with the IR LED in line-of-sight for the television. Using SiriProxy he’s added functionality that lets you request a channel change either by the name of the network, or the channel number.

As you can see in the video after the break, Siri has some strong opinions on the quality of programming for certain channels. That and contempt for your inability to just change the channel yourself. But this setup does augment your remote control experience by giving you a synopsis of what’s playing right now for the channel you’ve requested.

[Read more...]

TV retrofit… because flatscreens just don’t take up enough space

[Igor] helped his friend’s family out by retrofitting an old Philco television with a newer flat panel (translated). The original conked out over thirty years ago, but the look of it still held quite a bit of nostalgia for his girlfriend’s Grandmother. She showed it to him on a recent visit and asked if it could be restored. He told her that it would most likely never work again, but that he could use modern components to replace the screen, while preserving the case itself.

The best thing about old hardware like this is that you can actually get the case apart fairly easily. After removing the tube and electronics he traced a pattern of the opening that he could take along to the electronics store to find a TV which would fill the opening. With the new screen in hand he found that using the threaded holes intended for VESA mounting brackets made it simple to install in the old case. A steel bar bolts onto the plate which he cut and drilled to match the TV’s hole pattern. Now Grandma is happy to have the retro-looking case with a modern high-def picture.

VGA video output with an ATtiny

vga_video_attiny

[Fernando] is working on creating a game at home, with live scoring displayed on a large LCD TV. He’s keeping mum as to what the game entails, but he was more than happy to spill the details on how he planned to use the television as a wireless scoreboard.

The writeup is the first part in what will likely be a substantial series of progress reports, covering how he used an ATtiny45 to drive his LCD display. Eventually, the scoreboard will use a Bluetooth adapter for wireless input, but his immediate goal was to get the display running properly.

He explains how he uses the tiny micro and its limited set of I/O pins to drive the display, dipping into some of the technical details along the way. He discusses how he worked out the timings of the VSYNC and HSYNC pulsing, as well as how how the characters are actually drawn on the screen.

The article isn’t overly heavy on the technical details, and he has sample code available so you can take a look at how the VGA magic was done, so be sure to check it out.

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