This week my main focus was finishing everything up for the prototype deliverable due on Monday. At the start of the week, I was having some difficulties matching the colour correctly in the lights. I couldn't figure out what was going wrong as it worked perfectly fine on the Arduino and I hadn't noticed it on the esp-32 before as I was just doing random colours up until this point. I figured out that the esp-32 I was using use GRB instead of RGB for the colour setting. This was such a simple problem but took hours to figure out… Regardless, I was very pleased when I figured this out.
As I wanted to have some type of form being shown for this deliverable I wanted to remove the screen from the breadboard and stick it to the inside of the cactus. I decided that the best way to do this was to use ribbon wiring so that I could easily connect and disconnect it in the future, and would also make the inside of the device a lot cleaner. However, as I had to make these wires by hand, the connections were quite flaky resulting in the screen only working about 50% of the time, and requiring pushing random wires to get it working again. This isn't ideal so I might borrow my uncle's ribbon crimp tool to create a really good connection wire.
Next, I started designing and building the form. My intention was to 3D print it but when I went to start printing it, my 3D printer was having a lot of difficulties as the filament hadn't been used in a while and was breaking so easily. I then went to my original plan of laser cutting it out of acrylic. I was originally hesitant in doing this as the cactus shape was quite difficult to make out of individual pieces. However, I found a website (https://www.festi.info/boxes.py/RegularBox?language=en) that lets you specify the box and number of sides and adds in the finger joints for you. This was such a good find as it meant I could create the cactus without using any glue. Once I printed my original design, I realised that it lost its cactus-like shape in the process. I had to make each of the faces quite large due to the size of the screen but this made a very odd and wide looking cactus.
I decided it was better for this iteration to just use a rectangle for the main body section and keep the hexagonal boxes for the arms. Once I turned the lights on I was really happy with the final result!
The final prototype for this deliverable looks like this:
For the next iteration, I might try putting the screen vertically so that I can make a thinner body but still using hexagonal boxes to make it look more like a cylinder. I also need to figure out a better way of doing the arms so that they can have elbow bends in the arms. This time I tried to add some detailing to the pieces to see if I could get a cool light effect working so it looks more like a cactus, however they weren't big enough on the acrylic to have any significant effect. For the next iteration, I'm going to have a play around with some different shapes to see if I can add texture to the acrylic and make it look like there are darker stripes.
I do want to put in a bit more time to really perfect the form as my target user group does have an increased emphasis on the form. As I want kids to engage with Emily, I need to make sure she can easily be identified as a cactus and look cute and inviting to interact with. As it is also intended for adults, I need to make sure the design is still clean and aesthetically pleasing, so that they aren't embarrassed to display it in their living room.
Once I was happy with my prototype, I started creating the video. This took a lot longer than I expected and was quite difficult to make sure I was talking about everything I needed to as this is the only way the prototype is marked. Although it was a challenge to get it done on time, I'm pretty happy with the result.
Work to Do
Now that I have a usable prototype I want to get some user testing done on the features I have already implemented so that I can make any necessary changes. I also want to figure out an interesting method for turning Emily off. Currently, I have just decided to have touch pins on the arms to turn her off but I'm not very happy with this as an interesting interaction. Hopefully, some feedback in the appraisals can help this. I'm also hoping that the speaker module will arrive in the next few days so I can get the speech to text fully implemented. I'm really excited to have this in the prototype as I think it will really add to her personality.
To get ideas for the shape of the cactus I looked at how people have created cactuses on thingiverse (https://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=cactus&type=things&sort=relevant).