New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock Included SMS Interactivity

We remember several years back, when text messaging was first becoming popular, we went to a bar which had a huge television that would display text messages sent to a particular number. This sounds like a novelty, but in a large group of folks who know one another it’s the sandbox of social games. Wanting to tap in on that fun for his New Year’s Eve party, [James] built this countdown timer that includes an element of SMS interactivity (link dead, try the Internet Archive version).

The rig is projector based. A computer using Processing does the majority of the work but [James] needed a way to accepts text messages (the locale of the party had no Internet connection so this was the best bet). He grabbed a GSM shield and his Arduino Leonardo. The bulk of the evening the display showed the last few messages received, with a small countdown timer in the lower corner. As the countdown approached zero the time was given prominence as in the image above. We guess he was lucky to find a prepaid SIM card that allowed free incoming text messages. Our cell provider charges us 20¢ for each.

You might give this one a whirl next year. If it’s not quite your thing take a look around. We’ve seen a lot of fun setups like this mini ball drop.

15 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve Countdown Clock Included SMS Interactivity

  1. Sorry if I’m being a bit British, but what phone company CHARGES for incoming texts?! That seems like madness to me, unless the messages are coming from another country or something but even then in the UK they’re free, its just international phone calls they charge the receiver for.. – Confused Brit

      1. I’ve been aware of this as standard practice in the US for a while now, but I have never figured out how carriers can get away with it since you can’t choose not to accept it!

        The problem with this becomes more evident when you imagine someone who hates you spamming a service which sends you text messages like Google/Facebook two-factor authentication which sends you a text to your phone with a verification code. Receive a thousand of those and that’s $200 please. In fact, if I were a US carrier I would be secretly doing something like this regularly once or twice a month across all my customers phones and laughing all the way to the bank. Do any US readers get seemingly spurious texts occasionally?

      1. It probably makes more sense for mainland Europe because I guess if you lived near the border and had a friend the other side it wouldn’t seem fair to charge for receiving.. however the UK isn’t quite so tightly connected the Europe in that sense! Just my 2 pence

  2. I used a basic $2 SIM from my local service station as in Australia all phone companies provide free incoming text messages and calls. Obviously we are charged for outgoing text and calls, but depending on your plan, the price text messages are included in a capped structure or charge minimally (or even free)

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