A haptic device that lets visually-impaired people experience the flow and details of dance.

The Beauty Of Dance, Seen Through The Power Of Touch

It’s nothing short of amazing what trained dancers can do with their bodies, and a real shame that visually-impaired people can’t enjoy the experience of, say, ballet. For this year’s Hackaday Prize, [Shi Yun] is working on a way for visually-impaired people to experience dance performances via haptic feedback on a special device.

This platform, which is called Kinetic Soul, uses Posenet computer vision to track a dancer’s movements. Posenet detects the dancer’s joints and creates a point map to determine what body parts are moving where, and at what speed. Then the system translates and transmits the movements to the 32 pins on the surface, creating a touchable picture of what’s going on. Each 3D-printed pin is controlled with a solenoid, all of which are driven by a single Arduino.

We think it’s interesting that Kinetic Soul can speak to the user in two different languages. The first is more about the overall flow of a dance, and the second delves into the deconstructed details. Both methods allow for dances to be enjoyed in real time, or via video recording. So how does one deconstruct dance? [Shi Yun] turned to Laban Movement Analysis, which breaks up human locomotion into four broad categories: the body in relation to itself, the effort expended to move, the shapes assumed, and the space used.

[Shi Yun] has been user-testing their ideas at dance workshops for the visually impaired throughout the entire process — this is how they arrived at having two haptic languages instead of one. They plan to continue getting input as they work to fortify the prototype, improve the touch experience, and refine the haptic languages. Check out the brief demonstration video after the break.

Yes indeed, dance is a majestic way of expressing all kinds of things. Think you have no use for interpretive dance? Think again — it can help you understand protein synthesis in an amusing way.

Continue reading “The Beauty Of Dance, Seen Through The Power Of Touch”

An automatic color mixer, dispensing a mixture of red and yellow

The M5Stack Color Maker Can Mix Paint To Match Your Subject

We’ve all learned in primary school art classes that blue and yellow make green, and that adding a little black to a color will make it darker. But what if you want to paint with a color that exactly matches something else? Usually, that requires a lot of trial and error (and paint), and the end result may not look the way you wanted after all.

To help aspiring artists, [Airpocket] made the M5Stack Color Maker. This is a device that reads out a color sensor and automatically mixes watercolor paint in the right proportions to match what it sensed. It dispenses drops of cyan, magenta, yellow and black paint (CMYK) into a small bowl, from which you can then apply it with a paintbrush.

An automatic color mixer, with labels explaining each partThe color sensor is similar in use to the color picker (or “dropper”) tool present in most graphics programs: simply point it at something that has the right color, and it will generate the correct values for you. It is based on an AMS TCS34725 color sensor, which is housed in a 3D-printed shell that also includes a white LED. The sensor outputs Red, Green and Blue (RGB) values, which are converted into the corresponding CMYK values by a Raspberry Pi Pico. A touch-sensitive screen allows the user to make adjustments before activating the paint pumps.

Those pumps are tube pumps, which have been specifically designed (and also 3D printed) to allow them to move tiny amounts of liquid while minimizing the pulsing motion typical with this type of pump. They are driven by stepper motors which are controlled by the Pi Pico.

Although many artists might prefer to mix their colors manually, the M5Stack makes mixing that exact shade of blue just that little bit easier. We can also imagine it might help those who are color blind and unable to clearly tell different colors apart. We’ve seen simple paint mixers for larger quantities of paint, and even robots that can do the actual painting for you. If you need a refresher on color theory, we’ve got you covered too.
Continue reading “The M5Stack Color Maker Can Mix Paint To Match Your Subject”

Meet The Winners Of The Hackaday Prize Round Four: Redefine Robots

The judges’ ballots are in and we’re proud to present the ten winners of the fourth round of the 2021 Hackaday Prize. We love robots, and it’s obvious that you do too!  The number and range of projects submitted this year were overwhelming.

No robotics round is complete without a robot arm, and while a few of them were in the finals, we especially liked CM6, which really pulled out all the stops. This is research-grade robotics on a not-quite-student budget, featuring custom compliant mechanisms so that it can play well with its fleshy companions.

With six degrees of freedom, and six motors, the drivetrain budget can quickly get out of hand on builds like these, so we’re especially happy to see custom, open, brushless-motor driver boards used to reduce the cost of admission. Even if you’re not going to make a 100% faithful CM6 clone, you’ll learn a lot just from going through the build. Oh, and did we mention it has a software stack? Continue reading “Meet The Winners Of The Hackaday Prize Round Four: Redefine Robots”

MicroSynth, the business card-sized synthesizer

MicroSynth Mixes All-Analog Fun With A Little Business

While [MicroKits]’ MicroSynth is an all-analog synthesizer that fits on a business card-sized PCB, and he actually does use it to break the ice in business meetings, that’s not really the idea behind this project. Rather, [MicroKits] is keen to get people playing with synths, and what better way than a synth you can build yourself?

There was an ulterior motive behind this project, too: prototyping circuits for a more complete synthesizer. Thus, the design is purposely very simple — no microcontrollers, no logic chips, and not even a 555 to be found. It doesn’t even have buttons; instead, the one-octave keyboard just has interdigitated traces that are bridged by the player’s fingers, forming resistive touchpads. The keyboard interface circuit is clever, too — [MicroKits] uses a pair of op-amps to convert the linear change in resistance across the keyboard to a nearly exponential voltage to drive the synth’s voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). The video below shows what it can do.

We love projects like these because they show what can be accomplished strictly using analog circuits. We don’t have any problem with other synth designs, mind you — this 555-based dub siren we featured recently was great, too. Continue reading “MicroSynth Mixes All-Analog Fun With A Little Business”

It’s Wildcard Time, Your Last Chance To Enter The Hackaday Prize!

The final entry round of the Hackaday Prize begins today, and the theme is… anything! While we’ve guided you through work-from-home, robots, displays, and supportive devices, there are countless great ideas that don’t fit in those boxes. So for this round, just show us what you got!

Entering the Reactive Wildcard round is easy. Publish a page about your project over on Hackaday.io and use the left sidebar “Submit-to” menu on that page to add it to the Hackaday prize. The point is to build a better future, and we can’t wait to see what you think that looks like. Need some inspiration? Check out the four challenge update videos below to see what others have been entering so far this year.

What’s at stake here? Ten entries in this round will each receive a cash prize of $500 and move onto the final round. There, they content with finalist from the other four rounds for the $25,000 Grand Prize, and four other top prizes. There is also the geek cred of making the finals, a priceless achievement, even if we do say so ourselves.

Continue reading “It’s Wildcard Time, Your Last Chance To Enter The Hackaday Prize!”

Final Weekend Of Robots In The Hackaday Prize

This is the final weekend to enter your robot project in the 2021 Hackaday Prize.

The Redefine Robots challenge is looking to you for great ideas in making robots part of modern life. For too long, it’s been the vision of what these machines will look like in the future. But what should they look like right now? Sure, that might be C-3PO, but isn’t it more likely that your robot assistant lives on a smart watch, or that labor saving droid helps by passing the butter when limited mobility makes that a challenge for someone. Where are the everyday things that would be better with just a bit of clever technology?

This robot holds the flashlight , following your hands as you work.

Part of the challenge here is breaking out of that mold developed from decades of seeing robots that tend to take just a few forms; something with four wheels and a camera or bots designed to mimic the human body. One great example of rethinking these stereotypes is [Harry Gao’s] task lighting robot. It uses machine learning to look for your hands on a work surface and move a bright light to make sure you can always see what you’re doing.

Of course movement isn’t a prerequisite, if you want to think of this as a smart automation challenge. The best robots from science fiction are remembered because of their interaction with people — machines with personality. There’s certainly a place in our world for companion robots that keep you company like this entry called Stack-chan. It’s not a replacement for human interaction, but a complement to the way we communicate with each other and the world around us.

You still have time to get in on this round if you make this weekend your own personal hackathon. Ten entries will be selected to receive a $500 prize and move on to the final round at the end of October. Next week we’ll begin the final, wildcard round as we head into the fall and eventually award $25,000 for the top prize!

3D Printed Scooter Zips Around

Tooling around downtown on a personal electric vehicle is a lot of fun, but it is even better when you do like [James Dietz] and ride on your own 3D-printed electric scooter. As one of the entries for the Hackaday Prize, RepRaTS (Replicable Rapid prototyper Transportation System) has a goal of doing for scooters what the original RepRap project did for 3D printing: provide a user-friendly design base that you can extend, modify, and maintain. It doesn’t even require power tools to build, other than, of course, your 3D printer.

The design uses threaded rods and special plastic spacers made to hold a large load. The prototype is deliberately oversized with large hub motors, with the understanding that most builds will probably be smaller. As you can see in the video below, the scooter seems to go pretty fast and handles well.

Continue reading “3D Printed Scooter Zips Around”