TL;DR: In order to take attendance, I propose we install networked Microsoft Kinect’s (essentially) in every classroom and keep count of students w/o biometric information or stored photography.
To review, my goal with this project is to aid classroom management by taking attendance for the teacher and alerting the teacher to any out-of-seat students.
For a full recap, please check out my earlier post “Blog 01: Hello!” Teacher's Pet Students' Robotics Challenge: Attendance Automator — Blog Entry 1: Hello!
Having finally familiarized myself with the components provided in the Road Test [LINK], I have a better idea of what these electronics are capable of doing.
This project will make use of both Raspberry Pi 2 boards, each camera (one visible light, the other infrared), and MATLAB w/ Simulink.
In order to observe the classroom with accommodation for all students, some of whom will have varied heights, postures, and sizes, this concept will presume a ceiling-height installation to achieve a top-down viewing angle on the classroom.
Most U.S. schools provide students with some form of identification card, usually a name badge which they might wear on a lanyard about their necks. This setup will make use of that name badge to identify the student. This prevents the need for recording any biometric information on the student and protects their privacy by never recording their likenesses.
The visible-light camera will be used to photograph all of the desks in the classroom. Against the corner of their desk (upper-left corner, say) the student will take their identification lanyard off and place their ID flush with the corner. The Raspberry Pi will then search this area, find the ID, read any markings it can (sometimes the schools have a barcode system in place, otherwise shapes might be used for this purpose), and mark the specific student present.
An unused desk would be noticed as well.
The infrared-light camera could then be used as well to identify the presence of a human (I think this is how infrared thermography works). From a similar post at the ceiling, this camera will also be able to photograph the classroom and identify heat sources. Presuming each heat source is a student-person, it could then take a general tally of bodies in the room.
An empty seat would be noticed as well.
The superior challenge, then, would be to get the cameras to coordinate this effort. Each unit should take images with some synchronization, perhaps to realtime, store their images in a database, where a third computer operating MATLAB w/ Simulink could organize the shapes and heat-counts to take attendance.
Should a student then be missing from class a list of absences might be generated and e-mailed to the appropriate personnel at the school.
This concept is silent, unobtrusive to the daily schedule (in fact, it should return time formerly spent on roll call), requires minimal alteration to the classroom besides the identification card behavior, and alerts the appropriate parties.
Given a little more sophistication, perhaps a silent alert could be sent directly to the teacher in the room when a student leaves their seat. Although beyond the scope of this installation, which aims to be low-cost and universal, it would be pretty rad if an Apple Watch tapped the teacher’s wrist whenever a seat "cooled off."
For the initial prototype, I intend to prove the concept by:
1. Taking two images in synchronization from separate Raspberry Pi units
2. Storing data from images (but not the images themselves)
3. Combining information into a single database by time, seat, and identity
4. Reporting relevant information by remote notification
While I believe this is well within the abilities of the Raspberry Pi and MATLAB w/Simulink platforms, I believe it is beyond my personal abilities and timeframe, especially since the deadline for the road test is looming this Thursday, but I will do my best to keep you posted on this project until its eventual completion.
Thank you for reading, your support, and for any comment, remarks, or ideas you might have toward furthering this project. Message me or add a comment below.
Thank you, Adafruit, Mathworks, and element14 for your sponsorship.
Blog Entry 2: Design Constraints Teacher's Pet Students' Robotics Challenge: Attendance Automator — Blog Entry 2: Design Constraints
Blog Entry 3: Background Teacher’s Pet Students’ Robotics Challenge: Attendance Automator — Blog Entry 3: Background
Blog Entry 4: Unboxing Teacher's Pet Students' Robotics Challenge: Attendance Automator—Blog Entry 4: Unboxing!
Tags: “teachers_pet” “attendance_automator” “raspbery_pi” “adafruit” “MATLAB” “Simulink” "Mathworks"