Laser-control IPod by Waving Hands




Introduction: Laser-control IPod by Waving Hands

Konnichiwa - (^_^)/
This example will show how to combine an off-the-shelf laser pointer, schemer, and specially-modified magic dock to create an iPod remote control that you can wave at.
(TODO: we need a movie of Brad waving his hands)

Step 1: Background

We've just moved into a new space, and one of the first things we did was install Brad's stereo in the shop space. Music comes either from an iPod touch, or airtunes from somebody's computer.
Trouble is when we want to pause, change volume or tracks, one of us has to leave what we're doing, walk over to the stereo (or laptop) and fiddle with it. Using a traditional remote won't work either, 'cause you still have to find it.
We got to thinking: wouldn't it be nice if we could just wave our hands and control the music from right where we are?

The idea is to shine a laser beam from across the room at schemer's light sensor; if that beam is broken (by a raised hand), schemer reacts and tells the magic dock, which tells the iPod.
Since there's only one beam of light (for now), we had to modify the "waving vocabulary" for our 3 most common functions:
- Wave once to pause/play.
- Wave twice to get to the next track.
- Hold hand up until previous track is selected.
Now we can just wave our hands to interact with music pretty much from anywhere in the shop space, as long as we can break the laser beam. It's not the most functional remote control in the world, but being able to wave your hand in thin air to change tracks is awesome, let me tell you. 

Step 2: Preparation

First, find a good spot on both sides of the room that you're likely to be when you want to change music, and mark them with red tape. Plan to place the laser pointer and schemer high enough so you won't break the beam and trigger the "wave remote" by just walking around.
These are trial spots to mount the laser pointer (on on end), and schemer (on the other end).
(sorry the dots are hard to see in the pictures)

Step 3: Ingredients

You'll need:

- any off-the shelf laser pointer
- schemer
- modified magic dock connector
- conductive thread
- large battery holder
- large battery
(Feb 11, 2010) 
We use a specially modified version of the magic dock, and don't have this modification for sale (yet). We'll soon redo all docks to work with resistance (as they do now), AND the schemer bus.

We'll keep you posted! 

Step 4: Schemer

First, hook up power to schemer. For this project, we'll use one of our soft battery holders. For a more permanent installation, a 3V power adapter would be more practical.

Sew a couple of loops around the + hole, and feed it through the felt to the + tab on the top of the battery holder.

Do the same thing to the - hole. Be careful to only pass through the felt so you don't come in contact with any part of the + tab.

Step 5: Test

If you insert a 3V battery, you should see schemer flash it's middle light (unless you've already reprogrammed it to do something else).
If this step doesn't work, check your connections again to make sure schemer is getting 3V power.

Step 6: Magic Dock

Now it's time to hookup the dock connector. Again, this is a specially modified version of the magic dock which is not yet for sale.

Connect the top two holes of dock to schemer; these make the communication link. Then sew the two low holes to connect ground.
Use a little bit of cellophane tape to wrap around the dock so it stays insulated. Also use tape at regular intervals along the thread to keep them from touching each other.

Step 7: Test and Programming

Find a temporary place for your laser pointer on one side of the room. Masking tape works pretty well to keep the switch depressed. Aim it at schemer.

Head over to the programming website and customize schemer's sensitivity.

Normally, schemer is programmed to do nothing when the laser light strikes its light sensor. However, if you break the beam, it reacts and sends a control code to the iPod. In this case, breaking the beam for 1 second causes the volume to go up. Neat huh?

Soon we'll post videos of us waving all over the place (^.^)/ 

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    8 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    It might be hard to do, but using mirrors could direct the beam all over the room, so it doesn't have to be just a line. Getting a good alignment would be pretty tough


    10 years ago on Step 4

    Hey, I have a few questions:
    what is a schemer? what does it do, and how does it work?
    Where do I buy one?


    10 years ago on Introduction

     Sorry, n00b here, what's a schemer?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

     Hi, Schemer is a tiny programmable button that receives new programs directly from the computer/ipod scrreen (instead of USB or even bluetooth). Check it out:


    10 years ago on Step 1

     This is awesome! But you should switch to I.R. laser for less energy consumption.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, a thousand views and no comments or ratings. I'm impressed by this. Such ingenuity and drive!