These are the directions to make the Break Forcing Pad that was originally created by myself, Taylor Payne, Jacob Senitza, and Daniel Olsson.
This device was made as a pad for a work chair to ensure that someone does not sit all day for extended periods of time. It logs and monitors how long someone has been sitting all day and encourages the user to take breaks by standing up at the very least.
The pad has 6 LED lights that will light up after a set time interval, alerting the user of the upcoming break. Once all of the LED's are lit up, a buzzer will sound. The buzzer will continue to go off until the user stands up. The user will have to stand up for a set amount of time before sitting back down. If the user attempts to sit back down before the set amount of time is up, the buzzer will go off again. The main goal of the Break Forcing Pad is to serve as a reminder for an individual working at a desk.
The code provided will reset again if the user decides to stand up and take a break early.
There are many health risks associated with sitting for long periods of time, so we decided to solve this problem for the typical office worker audience. After researching more about the health risks associated with sitting for long periods of time, we were motivated to create this simplistic solution.
Health Risks Associated with Long Periods of Sitting:
- Back Issues
- Leg Issues
- Issues with Blood Flow
- Cardiovascular Issues
For more information:
- visit our website Take A Break!
- Web MD
Step 1: Knowledge Before Going Into the Creation of the Pad
We wrote our code in C, so if you want to use our code exactly, previous knowledge in C is highly recommended. Here is a link for writing in C if you are unfamiliar.
We also used soldering to connect our wires to the board and the pieces, so it would be recommended to have some soldering experience. Make sure to have the proper equipment when soldering. Here is a link for how-to solder.
We also used Arduino components. Here is a link that explains what Arduino is.
Step 2: Grab the Materials
You will need:
- An Arduino Board
- Lilypad FTDI Basic Breakout
- Four Pressure Sensors
- Four Force Resistors
- Six LED Lights (we used different colors to differentiate the periods of sitting)
- External battery
- Alligator Clips
- Soldering Supplies
- Foam (for the outside design of the pad, for the foam we essentially chose a cheap brand that would be square enough for users to sit comfortably on it and we eventually cut it down a little to fit in the fabric)
- Fabric (for the outside design of the pad)
- A strap (to be able to attach the pad to a chair)
- Velcro (to connect the straps)
- Access to a sewing machine (optional)
(Arduino Board, Pressure Sensors, Force Resistors, Arduino LED light, and LED buzzer shown above)
Step 3: Starter Code!
Before we started actually getting the hardware connected, we wrote a simple code in order to test it. Jacob and Taylor worked on creating the initial code in C.
Here's a downloadable link for the starter code below.
The code above only works for one pressure sensor, one force resistor, and one LED light. Once the pressure sensor senses the pressure, the LED light will light up and stay lit up until the pressure is gone.
Step 4: Hardware for the Starter Code!
After completing the code, we all worked on setting the hardware up for the pressure sensor, force resistor, and LED.
The photo shows a pressure sensor, force resistor, and LED light connected to the Arduino board via alligator clips.
The fritizing diagram above shows a cleaner version of what is going on in the photo. The pressure sensor is connected to PIN 2 and the positive. The force resistor is connected to the pressure sensor (going towards the analog) and the negative. We used PIN 6 for the LED and the ground to complete the circuit.
NOTE: The fritzing diagram only shows one pressure sensor, one force resister, and one LED for the sake of keeping the diagram clean and readable. We eventually used PINs 5, 6, and 7 for the LEDS.
Step 5: Start Building!
Once the prototype is working with the starter code and hardware, you can begin building the final product.
The link to the code with all six LED's and the buzzer attached at the bottom.
- Using the alligator clips, we clipped off the ends and soldered the pieces to the Arduino board, the ends of the pressure sensor, the LEDs, and the buzzer.
- We placed a pressure sensor at each corner of the pad so the pad could capture the pressure of a person sitting at all times.
- We also ran the wires through the foam board, having the pressure sensors on top and the board itself on the bottom of the pad. We didn't want the board to be harmed or the user to feel it, so that is why we chose to put it at the bottom. The foam works perfectly in masking the board and keeping it from harm and was reported to be very comfortable by our users from our user studies.
The code we have attached will sound the buzzer whenever pressure is applied, but the time can be altered to whatever time interval you would want.
Basically the code runs on an interval of a seconds rather than minutes. We did this for easy testing purposes. In order to change the code, you would just have to adjust the time intervals. For our user studies, we set the buzzer to sound after an hour. Each light would go on after ten minutes. You could change up the code to whatever you would like though.
The code works in a series of if/then statements. The if statements being along the lines of, if the time is longer than this time, then this light will go on, etc.
Step 6: Outside Design of the Pad (Optional)
For the Creation of the Outside:
- In order to create the cover for the pad, we sewed two fabric squares around the foam pad.
- We did this using a sewing machine in order to keep the stitches clean and neat.
- After sewing one of the sides together, we used the appropriate length for each side of the strap and sewed them into the fabric.
- We eventually sewed two more sides and used velcro to seal up the last side. We did this so it would be easy to recharge the pad by having the external battery on this side.
- We then glued velcro to the ends of the straps so they would be attachable an detachable.
Note: We made the red tag that reads, "Take A Break!" with an Indiana University symbol using a laser printer. Definitely will help jazz up your own pad if you can get access to a laser cutter and an acrylic sheet.
In order to create your own tag, you can use Adobe Illustrator and a laser cutter. Our link for the pad's plate is attached. It can be edited in Illustrator. If you have never used a laser cutter, then here is a how-to link for a laser cutter.
Step 7: Finished Product!
You can alter the code to change up the settings. Your pad should be able to light up within the time of sitting down and then have a buzzer sound when you're ready to get up!
Step 8: Further Ideas!
We created this pad for a class and essentially had a limited amount of time to build everything. Looking back on the project as a whole, we would improve upon the placement of the LEDs. In our user studies, it was noted that it was sometimes difficult to see the lights on the pad. We would find a better way to make sure the LED's were in plain sight for the user.
We also had the idea of improving the way of alerting the user when the break should be taken. Along with the buzzer, we thought of implementing a vibration component that would vibrate when time was up.