I’ve been thinking hard about what I want to do for my final project… since I have no design experience, part of the difficulty for choosing an idea is trying to understand the level of complexity in realizing a design, and getting that to match my abilities.
Currently, my favorite idea is to build context-aware window blinds.
I was inspired by the idea of automatically controlled window shades because of my life-long problems with sleep. I read some studies last year that detailed how the circadian rhythm is regulated in people, and what I learned was the following:
- eating meals at the “right” time of day helps pace the circadian rhythm appropriately
- the body controls the sleep cycle mainly by input from exposure to sunlight
Eating meals at the right time of day is not so difficult, that is almost a given for most people. But how do we control the exposure to sunlight when we spend most time indoors (especially in the winter)? Last year, I successfully resolved my sleep issues by exercising regularly (which helped manage my stress), but I would also sleep with the blinds totally open so that I would be woken by the sunlight at sunrise. I’ve barely set my alarm a few times in the past year and I can say, without a doubt, not only is the feeling of being blanketed by sunlight in the morning better than a blaring alarm clock, but I feel much more rested and clear in the morning, as well.
Yet, leaving the blinds open presents other problems. What about privacy? Sometimes I would stay up late at night on my laptop, and I was conscious of the fact that people could see me at night, reading Reddit. This was an uncomfortable feeling. But, if I closed my blinds at night, wouldn’t be able to wake up in the morning anymore without an alarm clock.
Hence, we have the solution: context-aware window blinds. A context-aware blind understands what time of day it is, and what level of sunlight or moonlight is perfect for the occasion. Context-aware blinds know when you need privacy and when you need sunlight. They know what to do at just the right time, to promote your quality of life.