Final Project Brainstorming

Part of the work we were assigned this week was to come up with a second draft idea of our final project, answering the following questions:

  1. What's the goal?
  2. What's the prior art?
  3. What are the systems and components?
  4. What questions will you need to answer?

I've come a long way already since I wanted to make an automatic frisbee throwing machine, and my final project ideas have changed a lot. For a while I was considering making a clock the old-fashioned way with lots of cool gears, but it seemed finicky and didn't promise to incorporate a lot of the skills we'll be learning here.

What's the goal?

So my latest idea is to make a sort of "smart" puzzle that corresponds to an image on a screen: as the pieces are connected and rearranged, they each correspond to a square that you can see on a screen that matches the pattern of the puzzle pieces. Each piece would have to have some kind of chip that identified it and gave it unique properties; one piece would have to be the "origin" around which all the other pieces are located relative to it. There would also need to be some kind of computer interface which read all the chips, which are connected to which, and then reported that back as an image on the screen.

What's the prior art?

I'm not really sure if anyone has made anything exactly like this before, but I did come across something just the other day in the Media Lab that looks a lot like my project. It's called "Triangles and Narratives" and uses identical triangles that connect physically and digitally to create a story line, because each triangle denotes a different event. I think its a little more complicated than what I was going to do (I just wanted the triangles to correspond to dots on a screen) but same basic idea - the physical connection has digital ramifications.

An image of a display in the Media Lab for "Triangles and Narratives" that I came across while getting lost.

What are the systems and components?

Hopefully, unlike the clock, this project could give me many more opportunities to incorporate what I've learned so far, including:

What questions will you need to answer?

Right now the biggest question is to find out what I'm actually capable of doing and what is beyond the scope of this course. Can I really write a program that translates the position of the puzzle pieces to a screen of LEDs? I think the computer programming would be the hardest part of this project. Other questions I have include:

I clearly have a lot to do, but I think this could be a fun project that incorporates many aspects of the course!