Sesame Street Healthy Habits Wearable


The project:

Sesame Street wanted to research whether or not wearable technology could impact and enforce healthy habits for young children. We created a wearable device to encourage children with the proper behavior during habit-forming situations.

My role:

I was in charge of prototyping the wearable, so I investigated all the technology needed for the wearable and developed several prototypes over the course of a few months to address the unique needs of the project. 

Details:

Due to the hardware needs of the wearable (RFID, accelerometer, data logging, feedback loops, playable music, button input), I went through several iterations of the prototype using various micro-controllers. Each hardware version had its strengths, but I ultimately rewrote the wearable algorithm in JavaScript as a web app so that in the future, it could easily be installed on a Smart Watch for more scalability and reliability during testing.

The end result was a webpage, which could theoretically work on any smart watch with Chrome and a speaker or bluetooth connection for earbuds.

The end result was a webpage, which could theoretically work on any smart watch with Chrome and a speaker or bluetooth connection for earbuds.


The first part of the process was testing with Arduino and getting data to log around movement, button interaction, and RFID interaction.

The first part of the process was testing with Arduino and getting data to log around movement, button interaction, and RFID interaction.

We quickly realized that there were other microcontrollers (like BlueBean+) that had accelerometers and built in, rechargeable batteries, so we began testing with that. To our dismay, there was very little hardware support with this board and we quickly had to move on.

We quickly realized that there were other microcontrollers (like BlueBean+) that had accelerometers and built in, rechargeable batteries, so we began testing with that. To our dismay, there was very little hardware support with this board and we quickly had to move on.

In the last iteration of hardware, we tested with RFDuino on a special board with an accelerometer. We were able to get data logging, music playing, and use movement to control our interactions. This prototype, however, was incredibly unstable. We opted for a web solution after this prototype.

In the last iteration of hardware, we tested with RFDuino on a special board with an accelerometer. We were able to get data logging, music playing, and use movement to control our interactions. This prototype, however, was incredibly unstable. We opted for a web solution after this prototype.

Reflection

This project was an exercise in perseverance and patience. After several failed attempts to create a prototype that satisfied all the needs of the project, I had to go back to the drawing board and seriously question my approach. I realized that even though the ask was for a physical computing prototype of a wearable, the main goal of the project was to test a concept and validate or disprove a couple ideas about wearables. This project was not a technical proof of concept. It was a prototype meant to stress-test an idea. From there, I realized that if it was just testing an idea, what was stopping it from being a web app? We could download the data to a device easier, we could have a better speaker already engineered, and we could scale the prototype across several devices as it was just a live webpage. In the end, I met the needs of the ask better by questioning the technology fit than I did trying to over-engineer a prototype with more than one downside.