Sit Up Straight!: Open Source Bluetooth Posture Sensing

As more and more people spend their working hours behind a computer, bad posture and the accompanying back pain and back problems become a growing epidemic. To combat this in his own daily life, [ImageryEel] made PosturePack, a wearable Bluetooth-enabled posture sensor.

The PosturePack is designed to fit into a small pocket sewn into the pack of an undershirt, between the shoulder blades. It consists of a custom PCB with an ATmega32U4, BNO055 IMU, Bluetooth module,  small LiPo and power circuitry. Based on the orientation data from the IMU, a notification is sent over Bluetooth to a smartphone whenever the user hunches forward.

[ImageryEel] says although the mobile notifications worked, haptic feedback integrated into the unit would be a better option. This could also be used to remind the user to stand up and take a break now and then, and provide an alternative to a smartwatch for activity monitoring without sending every movement to someone else’s servers. Software will always be the hardest part for projects like these, especially as the device become “smarter”. Learning to recognize activity and postures is actually a good place for tiny machine learning models.

Compared The posture sensors we covered before had to be installed and set up at a specific workstation, like an ultrasound-based version attached to a chair, and a webcam-based version.

A Beeping Toy Helps A Blind Dog Play Fetch

When a beloved pet goes blind, it doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t want to play fetch anymore, only that the game must change a bit. [Bud Bennett]’s dog Lucy has slowly lost her sight to progressive renal atrophy but is still up for playing with toys, so [Bud] decided to make a beeper that can go inside various stuffed toys to help Lucy locate them. Lucy doesn’t care for commercial toys that chime constantly, especially once she’s got it in her mouth.

This tiny package is centered around an LIS3DH accelerometer and programmed with a PIC16F18313. When the toy is thrown up in the air, the accelerometer determines that it’s in free fall and triggers an interrupt on the PIC. The piezo buzzer starts beeping so Lucy can find it, then stops a short while later and waits for the next free fall. The power dissipation is so low that [Bud] expects to charge the 120 mAh LiPo battery about once a year.

We bet that communication between [Bud] and Lucy is already pretty good, but maybe she could be more expressive with a doggy soundboard.

Dad Scores Big With DIY Indoor Hockey Game

We suppose it’s a bit early to call it just yet, but we definitely have a solid contender for Father of the Year. [DIY_Maxwell] made a light-up hockey game for his young son that looks like fun for all ages. Whenever the puck is hit with the accompanying DIY hockey stick (or anything else), it lights up and produces different sounds based on its acceleration.

Inside the printed puck is an Arduino Nano running an MPU6050 accelerometer, a 12-NeoPixel ring, and a piezo buzzer. [DIY_Maxell] reused a power bank charging circuit to charge up the small LiPo battery.

The original circuit used a pair of coin cells, but the Arduino was randomly freezing up, probably because of the LEDs’ current draw. Be sure to check out the video after the break, which begins with a little stop motion and features a solder stand in the shape of a 3D printer.

Got a house full of carpet or breakables? You could always build an air hockey table instead.

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Peripheral Doesn’t Need Deskspace

Some of us are suckers for new hardware. There’s absolutely nothing shameful about a drawer overflowing with gamepads, roll-up keyboards, and those funny-shaped ergonomic mice. MyTeleTouch won’t sate your itch for new hardware because [Dimitar Danailov] didn’t design hardware you hold, because it uses your phone as a catch-all Human Interface Device, HID. A dongle plugs into a standard USB port, and your Android phone can emulate a USB keyboard, mouse, or gamepad over Bluetooth.

Chances are high that you already set up your primary computer with your favorite hardware, but we think we’ve found a practical slant for a minimalist accessory. Remember the last time you booted an obsolete Windows desktop and dug out an old mouse with a questionable USB plug? How long have you poked around the bottom of a moving box trying to find a proprietary wireless keyboard dongle, when you just wanted to type a password on your smart TV? What about RetroPi and a game controller? MyTeleTouch isn’t going to transform your daily experience, but it’ll be there when you don’t want to carry a full-size keyboard down three flights of stairs to press {ENTER} on a machine that spontaneously forgot it has a touch screen. If you don’t have opportunities to play the hero very often, you can choose to play the villain. Hide this in a coworker’s USB port, and while they think you’re sending a text message, you could be fiddling with their cursor.

We enjoy a good prank that everyone can laugh off, and we love little keyboards and this one raises the (space) bar.

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Bike Computer Powers On Long After Your Legs Give Out

A typical bicycle computer from the store rack will show your speed, trip distance, odometer, and maybe the time. We can derive all this data from a magnet sensor and a clock, but we live in a world with all kinds of sensors at our disposal. [Matias N.] has the drive to put some of them into a tidy yet competent bike computer that has a compass, temperature, and barometric pressure.

The brains are an STM32L476 low-power controller, and there is a Sharp Memory LCD display as it is a nice compromise between fast refresh rate and low power. E-paper would be a nice choice for outdoor readability (and obviously low power as well) but nothing worse than a laggy speedometer or compass.

In a show of self-restraint, he didn’t try to replace his mobile phone, so there is no GPS, WiFi, or streaming music. Unlike his trusty phone, you measure the battery life in weeks, plural. He implemented EEPROM memory for persistent data through power cycles, and the water-resistant board includes a battery charging circuit for easy topping off between rides.

When you toss the power of a mobile phone at a bike computer, someone will unveil the Android or you can measure a different kind of power from your pedals.

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Your Phone Is Now Helping To Detect Earthquakes

Most people’s personal experience with seismographs begins and ends with simple childhood science experiments. Watching a pendulum make erratic marks on a piece of paper while your classmates banged on the table gave you an idea on how the device worked, and there’s an excellent chance that’s the last time you gave the concept much thought. Even among hackers, whose gear in general tends to be more technologically equipped than the norm, you’re unlikely to find a dedicated seismograph up and running.

But that’s not because the core technology is hard to come by or particularly expensive. In fact, one could say with almost absolute certainty that if you aren’t actively reading these words on a device with a sensitive accelerometer onboard, you have one (or perhaps several) within arm’s reach. Modern smartphones, tablets, and even some laptops, now pack in sensors that could easily be pushed into service as broad strokes seismometers; they just need the software to collect and analyze the data.

Or at least, they did. By the time you read this article, Google will have already started rolling out an update to Android devices which will allow them to use their onboard sensors to detect possible earthquakes. With literally billions of compatible devices in operation all over the planet, this will easily become the largest distributed sensor network of its type ever put into operation. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to be getting a notification on your phone to duck and cover anytime soon.

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MenoPlay Through The Pain Of Menopause

Menopause, that fireworks finale of fertility, is like a second puberty that works in reverse. At least, that’s what we hear. Along with mood swings and acne, there are new joys like hot flashes that make you want to jump naked into the nearest snowdrift, or at least put your head in the freezer for a while. Sounds great; can’t wait.

The biggest problem with menopause is that it gives suffers pause when it comes to getting help. This is natural, they think. There’s nothing I can do but ride it out. Those who do seek relief are likely to find expensive products that only treat single symptoms. This dearth of solutions inspired [Moinak Ghosh] to create one system to rule them all, a wearable with a suite of sensors that’s designed to take the pause out of menopause.

MenoPlay will take temperature readings at the neck and pelvis and switch on a Peltier module worn on the back of the neck when it senses a hot flash in progress. Exercise is a natural defense against hormonal imbalance, but step counters are too easy to cheat or ignore. The MenoPlay system will model the user’s movements using 9DoF accelerometers and suggest exercises that fill in the gaps.

We particularly like the automation aspect of this wearable. After decades of manually tracking menstrual cycles and everything that implies, the idea of so much useful biological data being collected automatically and fed over BLE to a NodeRed application sounds wonderful.

Hot flashes may not feel useful internally, but would do a fine job of powering the right kind of flashlight.