What if we all possessed enhancive devices that would turn any boring, house chore into a playful activity between us and our family? Then, wouldn’t chores become a more joyful and engaging activity of our daily routine? Imagine for example washing the dishes and at the same time interacting with your body to answer questions concerning your favorite topics like films, books, sports, cooking, etc. That kind of adrenaline rush could render dish cleaning playful, transforming forks, spoons, knifes into checkers of an interactive game.

Our prototype reconstructs a trivia game into a cards-free interaction game. Choosing the right answer becomes a bodily experience in the kitchen,  turning cutlery and utensil into participatory game pieces. Each answer of the multiple choices corresponds to: a) a different color and b) distance range, so that players choose their answer locating their hand or checker at a particular distance of the sensory box.

Game board and ultrasonic sensor

Inside of the box – organization of components


Overview of the kitchen

Integrating the device in the kitchen 1

Integrating the device in the kitchen 2

I2C SD card reader – SD card loaded with Trivia questions

Close-up of the ultrasonic sensor – this is what will determine the answer picked

Planning out the different parts required a lot of testing!

Corresponding the answers to distance range

2 LCDs 20×4,  LCD1: scrolling questions, LCD2: Multiple choices

Enid choosing answers

Enid chooses the correct answer

Schematic diagram of the prototype


Though it was difficult to converge onto an idea to execute, once we decided on the project, it was clear that an interactive trivia game was the perfect task for our team and Enid. However, it was very unclear what technologies we wanted to use to accomplish this. During our brainstorming phase, we looked into potentially using a wireless-enabled device to present questions via an online text-to-speech service. This proved to be too ambitious for numerous reasons: A.) We would need to order additional parts, delaying our design process and B.) We learned that Enid wanted to avoid having another online device that competes for bandwidth. In the meantime, we decided to load trivia questions onto an SD card, and display the texts on LCD screens.

We had some difficulty working with the SD card and LCD screens in tandem, but some refactoring of the code into helper functions allowed us to re-implement the way we displayed answers. Though we still do not know what the original problem was, this reorganization helped us move forward. The next challenge is an ongoing one. Because of the limitations of the LCD screen, we needed a way to display questions that are longer than the number of spaces on the screen. Tentatively, we decided on scrolling through the text on the top line of a screen, but Enid raised the concern that it is too difficult to keep an eye on the screen constantly while doing the dishes. This will be discussed further soon.

We are also using the built-in Arduino random library to shuffle questions and answers. The library uses a (presumably) random voltage reading of a disconnected pin as the “seed” of the generator. However, it seems that the seed is not entirely random, and on each round after the device restarts, there are only a few possible starting values. This means that we are only able to access a small subset of the questions.

The critique we had with the class and Enid was very useful to our group. The prototype we showed was meant to be placed on the countertop, with the understanding that as one is cleaning up, they can merely put an object in the right location a convenient distance away from their workspace.  Enid mentioned that we should consider resizing it. The project as it stood right now would not be practical to put on the countertop, as it would take up way too much space. In fact, she would prefer if we didn’t have it on the countertop at all, what if it were on her window instead? In this orientation, it would be in her line of sight as well, and would be easier to view questions and answers. In order to do this, we plan to have the range to pick answers lining the box the electronics are housed in, rather than coming out of it as shown in our current prototype. This is a slight modification that would greatly shorten the total space used and be more effective for Enid to use. In addition, she preferred this not to be a permanent installation. If there was a way we could easily remove our project, this would be ideal.

She also mentioned that she has trouble reading the single-line scrolling question. She brought up good points like what if she missed a part of the question? Or forgot what it was while answering? She would like to see at least the way we present the question be reformatted, say maybe filling up the screen, or repeating in case she forgets.

Overall, Enid really liked the approach we took with this project. She was super excited to play the game and answer the questions, and told us that she would definitely play this with her husband during clean-up sessions. Later, we went back to her house to take some final measurements of the kitchen and showed her husband the prototype as well, and he also seemed excited about the idea. It was a very positive critique session, and we were still able to get a clear picture of what had to be done in the coming weeks to complete the project.

Moving Forward

Our main things to focus on are the things Enid mentioned in the crit. The first focus would be to refactor the fabrication and presentation of the project with minimal changes to the software. This would include creating a smaller box of similar proportions to the one in the process pictures. It would also require shortening the ranges of the answers to match the length of the new box, but the wiring would remain largely the same. We would also have to find a way to better present the question and eliminate/improve on the scrolling text. We also plan on adding more questions of more variety based on preferences Enid had told us, and improve our current method randomization. We could also add things such as keeping a scoring system or a way to pick the categories, but these will only come after we fix those primary issues.

General Timeline for Final Project:

  • Nov 17th: Meet with Enid to get more feedback/take measurements
  • Nov 19th: Fix scrolling and randomization issues, start planning out new fabrication design
  • Nov 17th – 22nd: Create new fabrication
  • Nov 23rd – Dec 3rd: Add last-minute tweaks and improvements, change fabrication if necessary