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Physical Computing: TV Volume Regulator

Physical Computing: TV Volume Regulator

Goal: To create a volume regulator that automatically uses IR signals to control the volume of Lois’ TV

Role: Product Designer, 3D Prototyping, Design Researcher

Team: Elena (Designer), Connor (Developer), Aditi (Electrical Engineering)

When: March - May 2019

 

Overview: Collaborating with the OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, we identified an issue presented to the older people within the school. Working with Lois, a 72 year old native of Pittsburgh, we designed a custom volume regulator for her television of ten years.

My Role: For this project, I led the process from research to physical product. The goal of the research was to identify ways to improve the experience for Lois and her husband Irv’s TV watching experience. Then I translated user problems and needs into the final product features.



OUTCOME

Front face of device: wood and plastic material mimics the look of some of Lois’ radio and other devices in her loft

Front face of device: wood and plastic material mimics the look of some of Lois’ radio and other devices in her loft

3/4 view with top button hole allowance

3/4 view with top button hole allowance

Back side of device with rocker switch hole and 5V input allowance

Back side of device with rocker switch hole and 5V input allowance

 

PROBLEM

Every night, when Lois watches TV with her husband Irv, the volume of the commercial is much louder than the volume of the scheduled TV program.  To solve this problem, we designed a device that uses IR signals to interact with her TV. 

Summary

When the TV gets too loud the device automatically turns down the volume. After 30 seconds, or by pressing a button, the device is able to turn the volume back up.

The device will listen and if the sound that it hears is continuously above a threshold for a period of time, it will send IR codes to the TV to lower the volume.  After 30 seconds, the TV will send signals to raise the volume back up, presuming that the TV commercials have ended and the regularly scheduled TV program is back on.

The device is designed to sit on the table in Lois’ den positioned directly in front of the television.

Device as volume threshold is set: NeoPixel illumination indicates the volume threshold as the knob is turned

Device as volume threshold is set: NeoPixel illumination indicates the volume threshold as the knob is turned

Device as volume is being lowered: NeoPixel flashes green

Device as volume is being lowered: NeoPixel flashes green

Device as volume is being raised: NeoPixel flashes red

Device as volume is being raised: NeoPixel flashes red

Pushing the button on top to lower the volume, the NeoPixel flashes green to indicate that signals have been sent to the TV to lower the volume

Pushing the button on top to lower the volume, the NeoPixel flashes green to indicate that signals have been sent to the TV to lower the volume

Pushing the button on top to raise the volume, the NeoPixel flashes red to indicate that signals have been sent to the TV to raise volume again

Pushing the button on top to raise the volume, the NeoPixel flashes red to indicate that signals have been sent to the TV to raise volume again

Adjusting the knob on the device to change the threshold of the volume, NeoPixel adjusts to serve as a visual indication of what the threshold is.

Adjusting the knob on the device to change the threshold of the volume, NeoPixel adjusts to serve as a visual indication of what the threshold is.

 
IR Transmitter: The clear acrylic is meant to allow the IR transmitter to send the signals, and since IR cannot send signals through opaque acrylic we decided to use clear.

IR Transmitter: The clear acrylic is meant to allow the IR transmitter to send the signals, and since IR cannot send signals through opaque acrylic we decided to use clear.

Knob and Neopixel: The NeoPixel ring is a visual indication of what the device is doing:  Button: Button on top that can be pushed by Lois to change what signals the IR transmitter is sending

Knob and Neopixel: The NeoPixel ring is a visual indication of what the device is doing:

Button: Button on top that can be pushed by Lois to change what signals the IR transmitter is sending

Opened device: The wiring and the internal components of the device.

Opened device: The wiring and the internal components of the device.

CAD model in Fusion 360

CAD model in Fusion 360

 

research

We began the project with an in-house interview with our client, Lois. At the initial meeting, we wanted to gain some insight into what our client, Lois wanted for her assistive device.

Lois’ cat! A frequent visitor of the den, often accompanying Lois & Irv’s TV adventures.

Lois’ cat! A frequent visitor of the den, often accompanying Lois & Irv’s TV adventures.

Notes taken during initial meeting with Lois

Notes taken during initial meeting with Lois

1. Placement of Device: After working with Irv and Lois, we determined the optimal placement of the device

1. Placement of Device: After working with Irv and Lois, we determined the optimal placement of the device

IR Code Reading: Using Lois’ remote to find her remote’s specific IR code

IR Code Reading: Using Lois’ remote to find her remote’s specific IR code