15 Replies Latest reply on Mar 31, 2018 3:18 AM by Frederick Vandenbosch

    Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You


      Hi All,


      With the Easter holiday period upon us, the offices of element14 here in Chicago are a bit quieter than usual. This means I have less email to respond to and fewer meetings to attend. I've taken the luxury of having a slower work time by touring around the e14 site to see what interesting stuff people are doing.


      I really like the post called What beginners mistakes have I made? Member Maciej Piechotka is trying to create a simple PCB and started a discussion asking for tips. He's gotten a lot of great advice already with 15 comments. For me this is our support community in action. It's nice to see.


      I got a real kick out of reading Ryan McClure's PetBud blog in STEM Projects. I kind of see it as a FitBit for pets. Cool! (I don't use cool very often. I'm from the copacetic generation.)


      Then there's the Bluetooth Unleashed Design Challenge. I'll confess this is a favorite of mine. I sort of thought up the idea and sold the e14 team on doing it. Of course, everything around here is a team effort, so the idea was fleshed out and developed by e14phil and the rest of the team.


      The Bluetooth Design Challenge is a more open concept than element14 normally does. It offers 10 Bluetooth capable boards, which a Challenger chooses in his or her application. Another big change is the Grand Prize: a whopping $2,000 US (or in your local currency). I think that was Mindi's or Phil's idea. For that amount alone, it's worth the effort of applying.


      I personally like design challenges that are less defined. I am interested to see the creativity and the wild ideas that are prototyped. I also have been inspired by the growing interest in Bluetooth, with BT 5, rolling out this past year. BT has a longer range, a better data rate, much better throughput, and can take advantage of mesh networks. It's truly become a global wireless connectivity standard. With the Google Home, Amazon Echo and any number of Bluetooth-enabled IOT inventions, Bluetooth is being unleashed all over.I really wanted to "unleash it on the community to see what they came up with.


      Okay, I peeked into a few of the applications. They are interesting. They are innovative. They are so very copacetic.


      Someone wants to build a simple Bluetooth system that connects the customer to the waiter and the waiter to the kitchen. If you live in Chicago like myself and are in a packed bar and are having a hard time getting the attention of your waiter, this is a must-have eating/drinking/partying personal communication gizmo.


      Someone else wants to build a Music Beat Generator with a BLE connected vibration sensor.The vibration sensor senses dance step vibrations, then generates the beat for music fit for the footstep. Now that's something I did not expect!


      For people with AAPSAD (Adaptive Ambiance for People with Stress and Depression), another person wants to use a single board computer  with a camera which recognizes facial expressions and understands one's mood and instantly setting out a signals (via Bluetooth) to control Lighting, Ventilation, Smell, Music, etc. If that isn't creative, I don't know what is!


      And yet another person wants to create a Bluetooth game with Balloons. I won't say anything else. Can't give it all away, right?


      I'm sure you could think up plenty more ways of using Bluetooth. That's what we are seeking in this Design Challenge. You can be serious. You can be fun. You can be practical. You can be simple or complex. Just Choose Bluetooth and Unleash something to the element14 community!


      If you want to flesh out some ideas, leave a comment below or message me. I'm more than happy to help.

        • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

          Some of the ideas I was thinking of (but not really fleshed out : ( were:


          1. Pi PoE lighting with occupancy sensors connected via Bluetooth

          2.  A long-range robot for traveling inside offices, to see what kind of range can be achieved, and turning on said lighting if it feels the urge : )

          3.  A way to convert legacy toys : ) like scalextric sets (slot cars) to be Bluetooth enabled. Currently they have wires which get in the way. Also, controlling the cars via a mobile could be fun for children.

          4. Better music control for cars - streaming audio via Bluetooth and allowing music streams to be mixed by bored passengers

          5. Build a better door-bell - something that also alerts on your phone, in case you're in the garden and do not hear the usual bell.

          3 of 3 people found this helpful
            • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You



              Great ideas.


              My personal preference would be #4 -- better music control for cars. In general, I think the car manufacturers need to to more innovation for this feature.


              #3-- is fun and would be nice to see. I think  Andy Clark Workshopshed  had done some old toy updates on our Upcycle It Design Challenge. So this would be fun.


              #1 would be a good project for the community. I don't think we have any POE projects that come to mind. We could get you a Pi 3B+ but I'd have to check on the availability of the POE HAT.


              #2: Testing the range of a robot in the office would be a good and useful project.



                • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You
                  Andy Clark (Workshopshed)

                  > I think  Andy Clark Workshopshed  had done some old toy updates

                  Sure, toys and BlueTooth or BLE are a great combination


                  See also Page 102 of HackSpace Mag #1 for my take on a Bluetooth controlled project using a tiny HC-05 module. You could have a swarm of little cars controlled from a Raspberry Pi or one of the other boards.



                  There's definately some interesting things that can be done wth Bluetooth beacons too, working out where things are so it's not just about controlling or communication.

                  • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

                    re #4.

                    Bluetooth is often used for handsfree calling, and it seems to work for a number of earlier BT versions.

                    My new car included text messaging via Bluetooth, but despite trying many things the phone seemed to be the limit.

                    As luck would have it, the old phone started dying and the new one allows text messaging via BT.


                    There are few safety features like you can't view the message someone sent while you're moving, BUT you can choose to have the car speak the message.

                    While in motion, the responses are limited to either generic or you can preload your own.


                    While I can't support the passengers deciding what to listen to while I'm driving (imagine having to put up with your favourite childs head banging neavy rock, while you're negotiating the traffic jam from hell), I think there is room for identifying the driver/occupants to allow some personalisation of settings.



                      • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

                        I like the safety features idea. I find it is quite a skill trying to maintain a car speed under a 30 mph zone (in the UK), for example, when driving down a hill and you see one of those speed cameras ahead. Your eyes are darting between watching out for car ahead and checking the speedometer at the same time.


                        So, IMO it would be really handy if there was an OBDII type sensor which could then "speak" out the car speed for you as a useful driver support. Now image if the road sign was a beacon (in broadcast mode) and the car OBD system was able to pick up the speed limit this way using BLE in observer role. Then your speaking car system could tell you to slow down etc.

                          • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

                            Your eyes are darting between watching out for car ahead and checking the speedometer at the same time.

                            One of my cars has HUD (Heads Up Display) where the speed and some other info is projected onto the windscreen.

                            You can change where it is projected and the brightness can be altered manually or it drops when lights are on.


                            Before owning this one I thought HUD were a gimic BUT having used it I can recommend them as I never look at the speedo.


                            There is also a settable speed warning, but this is not linked to the actual road speed, so it's only good for the open road (where most of my driving time is spent).


                            I think your idea has merit, but here in NZ they hide the cameras, so they are unlikely to be warning the driver


                            The TomTom gps has warnings built in for 4 km over the speed and when we were in Australia it also warned for school zones (they were on holiday hence why we got the over speed warning).

                            While all these are great, I seen too mnay drivers relying on these things rather than focusing on the driving.

                            A good example was the idiot driving up the one way street in Rangiora because his gps said so, DESPITE the really large signs saying NO LEFT TURN!


                            However if these were implemented at the speed change signs, and perhaps road works, then it could add value.



                      • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

                        I like the idea of wireless control for slot cars - its poetic.

                        • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You


                          Starngely BT is those intelligent Light fittings hasn't taken off.

                          They tend to use Wifi and I'm guessing because it is available in most homes, and is not personalised like the cell phone is.


                          The Home Automation isn't really using smart phones as occupant detectors, but then maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

                          I do have a project I'm keen to advance, but I'm concerned that I have enough on my plate already, and adding something with timeframes just might be pushing the boundaries a bit.



                          During the application is it possible to limit the boards that you will use?

                          The reason is that I have tools and enough knowledge (enough to get me in trouble) to use a couple of the boards, but the others require much more effort and therefore time at my end.


                          If you get stuck you could try some arm twisting ....




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                          • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You

                            Yep, had great fun recently converting a wired (cord) remote control Subaru toy car into a wireless remote control car using BLE. Developed a simple app so that my son could use his 7" Android tablet as the controller. Used Arduino Uno, an old Adafruit motor shield (which controlled a DC motor for speed and a servo motor for steering), and a SeeedStudio Grove base shield together with a grove BLE (HM-11) module - other sensors still to be added. I'm sure a number of the hero boards could readily do this sort of thing.


                          • Re: Bluetooth Is a Great Way To Be You
                            Frederick Vandenbosch

                            Here's a fun little Bluetooth project by Becky Stern: