First I’d like to give a few shout-outs.
1) To Brian Beck, for loaning us a drill press, bench grinder and some cool measuring tools. We couldn’t have made ‘The Gorilla’ (press) or ‘The Temperizer” (measurement tools) without you!
2) To Ansel Halliburton, for offering us a box full of supplies. I never managed to get over there, but I very much appreciate having friends who are so supportive!
3) To my parents for taking my kids off my wife’s hands for a long time on Sunday.
4) To my wife, Melinda, for rising to the occasion and supporting the kids and home all weekend long so I could direct my attention elsewhere. Damn, I love you.
Alright now. It’s time to really discuss some of what we’ve been up to.
Product #1: The Temperizer – A Medical Device to Help Anger-Management Cases, Domestic Violence Victims, and Sufferers of Panic Attacks
For The Temperizer, our prototype secures to your finger and keeps track of your emotions. It emits multiple-measures warnings as your stress level increases. This is just a beginning for this product, which we plan to miniaturize using a Nano and a rechargeable LiPo battery pack (from a LELO “personal massager,” actually; the Rolls-Royce of such products). I’ll have to learn how to make a voltage step-up thingy, because it seems to run most reliably at 9V.
The work on this project was entirely student-led. My only contributions were as a project director:
(a) Developing and maturing the idea
(b) Miniaturizing our sensor design (it now fits in a 1cm x 1.4cm x 0.6cm package)
(c) Smoothing algorithm (mathematically, this is surprisingly simple because of how we built our sensor)
(d) Software troubleshooting
(e) Preventing the kids from hurting each other while playtesting it (LOL)
Here’s what it does: it keeps track of your galvanic skin response by sampling the sensor every 40 milliseconds. By doing a bit of smoothing, then by taking derivatives, we can use some math to determine whether your stress level is mostly constant, trending upward, or trending downward.
If your stress level after “calm calibration” is constant, the machine stays quiet. But if your stress level starts to go up, for example if you start to get really angry, The Temperizer notices this and lets you know. The alert type we’ve already proven is a beep using a piezo buzzer. The beep count per second increases as stress level increases. If the enraged individual stays in the same location, and their skin response stays at a plateau, then The Temperizer will add vibration in the same pattern as the beeps (but out of phase with the beeps, like a garbage truck backing up). Once the enraged individual starts to calm down, the machine responds appropriately: vibrating attenuates, beeping slows. This can be measured in concert with a companion app that listens to accelerometer data to verify the upset person has walked away for safety.
Future plans include more miniaturization (nano or pico), adding the vibrator, adding a Peltier cooler or resistor (to create physical sensation as a last resort). We plan to document, through user stories, many ways it can help with road rage cases as well as domestic abusers and even people who suffer panic attacks.
I feel great about this project because it has immediate utility. I feel great about my work with the kids on this project because I really felt like I coached them positively to bring out their best work and I kept collaboration positive and productive with zero wasted time.
~ dan ~