This Tabletop Lighthouse Will Get Your Attention

If you wear headphones around the house with any regularity, you’re probably missing out on a lot of audio cues like knocks at the door, people calling your name, or maybe even the smoke alarm. What if you had a visual indicator of sound that was smart enough to point it out for you?

That is the point of [Jake Ammons’] attention-getting lighthouse, designed and built in two weeks’ time for Architectural Robotics class. It detects ambient noise and responds to it by focusing light in the direction of the sound and changing the color of the light to a significant shade to indicate different events. Up inside the lighthouse is a Teensy 4.0 to read in the sound and spin a motor in response.

[Jake]’s original directive was to make something sound-reactive, and then to turn it into an assistive device. In the future [Jake] would like to add more microphones to do sound localization. We love how sleek and professional this looks — just goes to show you what the right t-shirt stretched over 3D prints can do. Check out the demo after the break.

Seaside lighthouses once used gas lights giant Fresnel lenses, but now they use LEDs. A company in Florida is using CNC machines to crank out acrylic Fresnels.

7 thoughts on “This Tabletop Lighthouse Will Get Your Attention

  1. >It detects ambient noise and responds to it by focusing light in the direction of the sound

    Seeing the shape of the reflector, I’d think that “limiting” would be more accurate than “focusing”.

  2. So, can it differentiate between someone speaking, and someone trying to get your attention in particular? If not, it would go off anytime someone speaks sufficiently loud in your presence which would get old real quick.

    Regarding the fire alarm. If you’re deaf or close to it, you would have a commercial product in place already that has been tested and verified (at least I would hope you do). Adding another layer between you and the alarm seems a bit risky since it just adds another point of failure. And if you’re listening to music loud enough to block out a fire alarm… well, you’re probably already close to deaf so see first point.

    Also, how much granularity do you need in the direction it points? Wouldn’t it simplify the thing a whole lot by having maybe 8 stripes of LEDs to light up instead of having a motor turn around to direct the light of the 4 strips they already have in there?

    And what if the thing you’re supposed to react to is on the opposite side of the device?

    1. If you’re deaf, you’ve probably got a hearing dog to point out when the fire alarm or doorbell goes. They’re very good at getting your attention even if you’re asleep. And they’re super cute.

  3. Nice build! while working at home i use noice cancellation headphones a lot. To help me detect sounds i ordered one of those cheap usb mini spectrum led boards. They are quite sensitive and the LEDs stick a moment to the maximum noise level.

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