Capacitive Touch with LilyPad Arduino


A little while ago I wrote about a student in the industrial design program at the UW making some really neat packaging. The other day I saw a group of three other students in the same program working on making their final project. While they had several weeks to do the project, they were scrambling to finish (haven’t we all been there?). Of course it makes sense when you learn that they were working on an electronics project without taking any kind of electronics class! Neil Aguinaldo, John Stream, and Ryan Phillips were all making very interesting sounding lamp designs.
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Lamps sound like something that should be easy, but I think it’s probably one of those things that non-designers take for granted. Their assignment parameters included having the lamp be one hand operable, and being free standing. It also had to have two modes, one for direct, working light, and the other for softer, ambient light. The client for the design was themselves, so they basically just had to make the coolest thing possible.

Each student has to make a different design, but all of these three guys decided to have a basic concept in common between their lamps, and decided to work together. The lamps had to have a switch that was innovative. No regular toggles or buttons allowed. They chose to use capacitive touch sensors to operate their lights. In conjunction with that, they wanted to use a LilyPad Arduino to control the function of their lights. They had never used an Arduino before, but if there’s one place to learn about Arduino, it’s Metrix!
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One of their junior professors first introduced the students to Metrix. For this project, they wanted to make their models as functional as possible. They remembered Metrix, called to see if they had some parts they needed (yes!) and stopped by. The professor wanted them to think outside the box, which is something I think Metrix is especially good for. This same junior professor also seems to see the value of Arduino, as there is going to be an Arduino class next quarter at the UW! How cool is that? Neil, John and Ryan seemed to have some really neat ideas about what their next project with Arduino will be (something with motion sensors, or moving in reaction to your hand), so it’d be pretty cool to see that spread to other students who learn about Arduino as well.
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The lamps aren’t just part of their final project, but will actually be part of a junior industrial design show that happens every year, sponsored by the IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America). Students from Western Washington and Emily Carr universities also show off their projects, making it a cool place to meet others in the industry (or future industry). In fact, the show is open to the public! You should definitely go and check it out! Unfortunately specifics aren’t on their website, but keep checking and find out when it is (I was told it will most likely happen in May).

I’m glad that Metrix was there to help these students bring their ideas to life.

If you have an interesting project that you’re working on at Metrix, and would like to be featured in the blog, email me- allison@sweetium.com.