Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kangaroo Light From Studio Banana

Following the theme of hacking interesting microcontroller projects, tonight let's consider how we might hack a Kangaroo Light.

The Kangaroo Light is an unusual lighting device. Studio Banana, which says it makes "fun, functional objects" decided to make a "multifunctional light for the multitasking individual." In a sort of take-off on their tagline, it's the light that glows with you anywhere. An article in Core77 titled, "In The Details: Studio Banana's Funky, Flexible Kangaroo Light," this unique way to light up your life is described as follows:
"...Its funky hexagonal shape allows it to fit your lifestyle, whether you roll it up and turn it into a torch or take it camping for some outdoor light,"...The light has a pyramidal, white, high-silicone exterior, giving it flexibility and, as an added bonus, making it splash-proof...The light can be activated by touch or motion, due to a built-in accelerometer and touch electrodes under the silicone surface. With 24 built-in LEDs, the Kangaroo Light emits a soft glow from one side of the device. "The LEDs are integrated in a PCB...We're planning to leave an
open gate for coders to customize the product via Arduino platform so they can play with its multiple possibilities." For instance, users could program the light intensity or quality to change as you poke or tap the device. The accelerometer adds an additional range of potential interactions, such as the ability to program the light to turn off when upside-down..."
 Studio Banana has a Kangaroo Light Kickstarter campaign going right now. They're over halfway to their goal and have 13 days left to hit it. If this is the kind of product you'd like to see succeed, consider contributing to the campaign. It's a UK project, so be aware that the pledge amounts are stated in pounds, although the fine print also shows how much it is in US dollars.

It seems like a 'wallaby light' would be a great hack project the Humboldt Microcontrollers Group could collaborate on with people from Origin Design Lab in Eureka. If you haven't checked them out yet, you might want to stop in at 621 Third Street, Eureka, California. The Origin Design Lab website indicates they are very interested in 'makers,' and they have a strong focus on fabrics and sewing. It's likely they can bring a lot of knowledge and insight to a project like this.

We should probably figure out the electronic design of the lighted pillow before we approach anyone at Origin about working together on a project like this. Design of the battery and microcontroller board(s) in the pillow will take a large dose of ingenuity, and if we're going to hack the design to make a unique product, that might take an even larger dose.

One hack could be adding colored LEDs that would be lit under certain situations. Another would be to make the pillow flash when it's thrown through the air. What other hacks can you think of for an MCU-controlled pillow light? Bring your ideas and designs to the next Humboldt Microcontrollers Group meeting, which will happen on Thursday, June 26, from 6 to 8 PM.


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