Solving the world’s problems one appliance at a time

22 students from Hampton and LEH took part in the RealityCheck project challenge day. Organised by staff from the DT and Computing departments of both schools and supported by Old Hamptonian James Tagg of Truphone, this was an opportunity to attempt to solve “real world problems” using programmable electronics.

The students had already taken part in six workshops leading up to the event, where they had learned to program in the Arduino environment, a very popular platform for this sort of development. Teams were then given an entire day to identify a problem and develop a suitable solution. They were working with low-cost, custom made hardware, specifically designed for this event, but the designs for which will soon be made available to the public, to enable many other schools and individuals to experiment with these sorts of technologies.

Some projects focused on everyday problems – a fridge door which opens and closes automatically so you can never leave it open, a coffee cup that tells you when your drink is at the right temperature, and a motorised cat flap which only opens to let your cat through, using an RFID tag on the cat’s collar. Others tackled safety issues – a security system that automatically closes your windows when you lock the front door, another that texts you to warn of an intruder sensor being activated, a baby bath temperature monitor, and a baby sound and movement monitor.  There was also one problem of global significance – a natural disaster early warning system that tweets when it detects danger signs.

The overall standard of the work completed was high, and all eight teams ended up with a working prototype of at least some aspects of their system. Heads of both schools and other staff came to look at the finished creations, and seemed very impressed by what they saw.

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