The project conceptualizes the idea of having a ring on a person’s thumb with a fingerprint scanner and using other fingers to scan on the fingerprint scanner and perform various operations based on each unique finger. The core idea is to have a device on your hand to control various things around you. The applications of this kind of technology is limitless. We made prototypes of application of this in education(iClicker student remote poll during class), communication through morse code by disabled people, using the device as an input during gaming, and act as a device to control smart home operations or even make a quick call/emergency call.
During our computer science class, all of us have an audience response system where we are quizzed in class on the topic being taught in lecture. We have an iClicker remote through which we vote for the multiple choice questions. One day in class, while voting, we realized that it would be really cool to vote without the remote. But how? We reflected on this and thought that one could just have small device like a ring with a sensor(fingerprint scanner) on one of the fingers and use the other fingers to choose an option. We thought this would be a really cool way to use our hand/fingerprints instead of the remote. As we discussed this idea, we realized, the groundbreaking impacts this kind of technology. Our discussion led us to introspect on how we can implement this for disabled people who can just use their fingers to talk through morse code. Since more code operates on two symbols: a dash and a hyphen, typing with this technology will be really easy as it will two finger taps to emulate a dash and hyphen respectively. We soon realized that there were so many uses cases for this technology, ranging from response to emergency situation to smart home uses or even make your own functionality of it.
As part of the project, the input comes from the fingerprint scanner attached to a ring. The input is processed by arduino and sent to an android app running on a phone through bluetooth. On the phone, there are four major applications of the input. The first mode is the student mode, a replacement for the audience voting system - iClicker, instead of using a remote, people use fingerprint sensors. The second mode is the algorithm that converts the morse code input and outputs text. The third mode has two features. One feature includes doing an emergency call. Another feature includes application of a smart home. In our project, we implement controlling the temperature of the thermostat. The fourth mode, is the gaming mode, where the input is used to play a game.
In terms of hardware we used an arduino uno, a breadboard, bluetooth module, fingerprint scanner. We used the arduino language for the interaction between the fingerprint scanner, bluetooth module and arduino. The arduino code has a set of scanned fingerprints and sends output to the app on the phone through the bluetooth module. We tested the fingerprint scanner with multiple fingers and checked if the fingerprint registers depending what it is stored. We also tested the bluetooth communication between the the bluetooth module and the phone. We did this through sending receiving commands from the arduino and back through a bluetooth terminal first. Then the code was integrated with the app. The app was built in Java and XML and was made with four modes: student response system, morse code, smart home, and gaming . We programmed each of the functions.
We faced many challenges, specifically in the hardware side of things. First, we weren’t able to get a connector for the fingerprint scanner that would connect it to the arduino as the hardware table didn’t have one. We quickly realized that this was the crux of the project and this part needed to work well. Without the connector, it would make the project next to impossible. We reached out to various mentors, hardware hackers and to the hardware lab to find a connector. We got advice such as using a foil as a connector or break the socket and then access the pins. We did consider those options but we knew that the socket was really small and the pins were only 1mm apart. We persevered to get hardware on the same and finally we took a professor’s help to access the makerspace and get the cable from a quadcopter. The other challenge we faced was that we had very little experience with soldering and we were faced with the challenge of desoldering the bluetooth module from an IC. It took us hours to desolder the bluetooth module and use it as part of the project. A challenge we ran into while making the android app was to code the the morse code part of the app. We weren’t really familiar with morse code and how it worked. We researched on various experiments and research done morse code. After this, we had to work on the algorithm as to convert the incoming morse code input to text. However, we weren’t able to figure out how we will understand when the user wants to stop inputting a letter in morse code. We had a few options for what we could do, perhaps use pauses. After a lot of brainstorming, then we came up with an algorithm where the third key, tells the app that the third key is the end of code for a letter and start for a new one. Another challenge we faced was integrating the bluetooth functions with the written code, but we were successful at the end of it.
We had milestones along the way of discovering and developing our project. We were able to implement a sleek front end for the android app. We were able to come up with an efficient algorithm for understanding and converting morse code to text. We also extremely proud and happy about the fact that we were able to implement the fingerprint scanner and the bluetooth module correctly.
There were a lot of learnings for us throughout the project. We came to the hackathon with an idea that was pure software. However, after getting inspired by the opening ceremony, we decided to push ourselves and explore areas of tech that perhaps a lot of us don’t know much about and might be slightly uncomfortable. Just before the hackathon started, we decided that we will implement what we had discovered ourselves from the experience from our computer science class. The idea of having a ring with a fingerprint scanner and using fingers as input. Going ahead with the idea wasn’t an easy decision. We absolutely loved the idea but weren’t sure about our skills of actually being able to implement it. However, we took a leap of faith, even though we knew that there was a risk of failure, we discussed that end of the day whether we are able to make it or not, we will learn from it. Slowly and steadily we started to take each task as a challenge. From desoldering the bluetooth module to coming with an algorithm to implement morse code, we did it together as a team. We never thought we would attempt something like this, but coming to hackathon made us realize that we have to be ambitious and leverage the resources such as mentors, guides, hardware, labs etc. We learned that hackathons are about hacking each task, finding new and innovative ways to pursue our passions, finding new ways to solve a bug or finding different ways to find the optimal solution. Along the way, apart from the technical bit, we learned about communication both internally and externally to the team and about collaborating in a team environment. The hackathon experience made us realize that at a hackathons, it's all about hacking ideas/concepts/theories into reality.
When we ask ourselves “what's next?”, we are excited about quite a few things. We see a lot of scope in the technology that we have built. From a hardware perspective, we want to make the ring components smaller, more integrated to the ring. Further, we would love to explore more powerful hardware than arduino that can be faster and more reliable. From, a software perspective, we are truly excited to explore the vastly different possibilities of what the applications of our technology can be. We have explored about 4 different possibilities in the project. We are brainstorming about what more applications it can have with a groundbreaking impact at scale.
Arduino Uno, Breadboard, Jumper Wires, Bluetooth Module, 3D printed Ring, Fingerprint Scanner, Android Studio (Java, XML), Arduino Software.
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