Check out my latest Hacker in Residence project for SparkFun Electronics: the Helmet Guardian! It’s a Pi Zero powered impact force monitor that turns on an LED if your head/body experiences a potentially dangerous impact. Install in your sports helmets, bicycle, or car to keep track of impact and inform you when it’s time to visit the doctor.
We’ve all knocked our heads at least once in our lives, maybe due to tripping over a loose paving slab, or to falling off a bike, or to walking into the corner of the overhead cupboard door for the third time this week — will I ever learn?! More often than not, even when we’re seeing stars, we brush off the accident and continue with our day, oblivious to the long-term damage we may be doing.
Force of impact
After some thorough research, Jennifer Fox, founder of FoxBot Industries, concluded that forces of 4 to 6 G sustained for more than a few seconds are dangerous to the human body. With this in mind, she decided to use a Raspberry Pi Zero W and an accelerometer to create helmet with an impact force monitor that notifies its wearer if this level of G-force has been met.
Obviously, if you do have a serious fall, you should always seek medical advice. This project is an example of how affordable technology can be used to create medical and citizen science builds, and not a replacement for professional medical services.
Setting up the impact monitor
Jennifer’s monitor requires only a few pieces of tech: a Zero W, an accelerometer and breakout board, a rechargeable USB battery, and an LED, plus the standard wires and resistors for these components.
After installing Raspbian, Jennifer enabled SSH and I2C on the Zero W to make it run headlessly, and then accessed it from a laptop. This allows her to control the Pi without physically connecting to it, and it makes for a wireless finished project.
Jen wired the Pi to the accelerometer breakout board and LED as shown in the schematic below.
The LED acts as a signal of significant impacts, turning on when the G-force threshold is reached, and not turning off again until the program is reset.
When people upload original content to YouTube, there should be no problem with getting paid for that content, should it attract enough interest from the public.
Those who upload infringing content get a much less easy ride, with their uploads getting flagged for abuse, potentially putting their accounts at risk.
That’s what’s happened to Australia-based music technologist Sebastian Tomczak, who uploaded a completely non-infringing work to YouTube and now faces five separate copyright complaints.
“I teach and work in a music department at a University here in Australia. I’ve got a PhD in chiptune, and my main research interests are various intersections of music / sound / tech e.g. arduino programming and DIY stuff, modular synthesis, digital production, sound design for games, etc,” Tomczak informs TF.
“I started blogging about music around a decade ago or so, mainly to write about stuff I was interested in, researching or doing. At the time this would have been physical interaction, music controller design, sound design and composition involving computers.”
One of Tomczak videos was a masterpiece entitled “10 Hours of Low Level White Noise” which features – wait for it – ten hours of low-level white noise.
“The white noise video was part of a number of videos I put online at the time. I was interested in listening to continuous sounds of various types, and how our perception of these kinds of sounds and our attention changes over longer periods – e.g. distracted, focused, sleeping, waking, working etc,” Tomczak says.
White noise is the sound created when all different frequencies are combined together into a kind of audio mush that’s a little baffling and yet soothing in the right circumstances. Some people use it to fall asleep a little easier, others to distract their attention away from irritating sounds in the environment, like an aircon system or fan, for example.
The white noise made by Tomczak and presented in his video was all his own work.
“I ‘created’ and uploaded the video in question. The video was created by generating a noise waveform of 10 hours length using the freeware software Audacity and the built-in noise generator. The resulting 10-hour audio file was then imported into ScreenFlow, where the text was added and then rendered as one 10-hour video file,” he explains.
This morning, however, Tomczak received a complaint from YouTube after a copyright holder claimed that it had the rights to his composition. When he checked his YouTube account, yet more complaints greeted him. In fact, since July 2015, when the video was first uploaded, a total of five copyright complaints had been filed against Tomczak’s composition.
As seen from the image below, posted by Tomczak to his Twitter account, the five complaints came from four copyright holders, with one feeling the need to file two separate complaints while citing two different works.
The complaints against Tomczak’s white noise
One company involved – Catapult Distribution – say that Tomczak’s composition infringes on the copyrights of “White Noise Sleep Therapy”, a client selling the title “Majestic Ocean Waves”. It also manages to do the same for the company’s “Soothing Baby Sleep” title. The other complaints come from Merlin Symphonic Distribution and Dig Dis for similar works .
Under normal circumstances, Tomczak’s account could have been disabled by YouTube for so many infringements but in all cases the copyright holders chose to monetize the musician’s ‘infringement’ instead, via the site’s ContentID system. In other words, after creating the video himself with his own efforts, copyright holders are now taking all the revenue. It’s a situation that Tomczak will now dispute with YouTube.
“I’ve had quite a few copyright claims against me, usually based on cases where I’ve made long mixes of work, or longer pieces. Usually I don’t take them too seriously,” he explains.
“In any of the cases where I think a given claim would be an issue, I would dispute it by saying I could either prove that I have made the work, have the original materials that generated the work, or could show enough of the components included in the work to prove originality. This has always been successful for me and I hope it will be in this case as well.”
Sadly, this isn’t the only problem Tomczak’s had with YouTube’s copyright complaints system. A while back the musician was asked to take part in a video for his workplace but things didn’t go well.
“I was asked to participate in a video for my workplace and the production team asked if they could use my music and I said ‘no problem’. A month later, the video was uploaded to one of our work channels, and then YouTube generated a copyright claim against me for my own music from the work channel,” he reveals.
Tomczak says that to him, automated copyright claims are largely an annoyance and if he was making enough money from YouTube, the system would be detrimental in the long run. He feels it’s something that YouTube should adjust, to ensure that false claims aren’t filed against uploads like his.
Head and Shoulders Scan with 29 Raspberry Pi Cameras
Uses for full-body 3D scanning
Poppy herself wanted to use the scanner in her work as a fashion designer. With the help of 3D scans of her models, she would be able to create custom cardboard dressmakers dummy to ensure her designs fit perfectly. This is a brilliant way of incorporating digital tech into another industry – and it’s not the only application for this sort of build. Growing numbers of businesses use 3D body scanning, for example the stores around the world where customers can 3D scan and print themselves as action-figure-sized replicas.
We’ve also seen the same technology used in video games for more immersive virtual reality. Moreover, there are various uses for it in healthcare and fitness, such as monitoring the effect of exercise regimes or physiotherapy on body shape or posture.
Within a makespace environment, a 3D body scanner opens the door to including new groups of people in community make projects: imagine 3D printing miniatures of a theatrical cast to allow more realistic blocking of stage productions and better set design, or annually sending grandparents a print of their grandchild so they can compare the child’s year-on-year growth in a hands-on way.
The Germany-based clothing business Outfittery uses full body scanners to take the stress out of finding clothes that fits well. image c/o Outfittery
As cheesy as it sounds, the only limit for the use of 3D scanning is your imagination…and maybe storage space for miniature prints.
Poppy’s Raspberry Pi 3D Body Scanner
For her build, Poppy acquired 27 Raspberry Pi Zeros and 27 Raspberry Pi Camera Modules. With various other components, some 3D-printed or made of cardboard, Poppy got to work. She was helped by members of Build Brighton and by her friend Arthur Guy, who also wrote the code for the scanner.
The Pi Zeros run Raspbian Lite, and are connected to a main server running a node application. Each is fitted into its own laser-cut cardboard case, and secured to a structure of cardboard tubing and 3D-printed connectors.
In the finished build, the person to be scanned stands within the centre of the structure, and the press of a button sends the signal for all Pis to take a photo. The images are sent back to the server, and processed through Autocade ReMake, a freemium software available for the PC (Poppy discovered part-way through the project that the Mac version has recently lost support).
Build your own
Obviously there’s a lot more to the process of building this full-body 3D scanner than what I’ve reported in these few paragraphs. And since it was Poppy’s goal to make a readily available and affordable scanner that anyone can recreate, she’s provided all the instructions and code for it on her Instructables page.
Projects like this, in which people use the Raspberry Pi to create affordable and interesting tech for communities, are exactly the type of thing we love to see. Always make sure to share your Pi-based projects with us on social media, so we can boost their visibility!
If you’re a member of a makespace, run a workshop in a school or club, or simply love to tinker and create, this build could be the perfect addition to your workshop. And if you recreate Poppy’s scanner, or build something similar, we’d love to see the results in the comments below.
The Tough Pi-ano needs to live up to its name as a rugged, resilient instrument for a very good reason: kids.
Brian ’24 Hour Engineer’ McEvoy made the Tough Pi-ano as a gift to his aunt and uncle, for use in their centre for children with learning and developmental disabilities such as autism and Down’s syndrome. This easily accessible device uses heavy-duty arcade buttons and has a smooth, solid wood body with no sharp corners.
24 Hour Engineer is a channel to showcase the things I’ve built. Instructions for the Tough Pi-ano can be found at my website, 24HourEngineer.com and searcing for “Tough Pi-ano.” http://www.24hourengineer.com/search?q=%22Tough+PiAno%22&max-results=20&by-date=true
The Pi-ano has four octaves of buttons, each controlled by a Raspberry Pi Zero. Each Zero is connected to a homebrew resistor board; this board, in turn, is connected to the switches that control the arcade buttons.
The Tough Pi-ano is designed specifically for musical therapy, so it has a clean and uncomplicated design. It has none of the switches and sliders you’d usually expect to find on an electronic keyboard.
The simple body, with its resilient keys, allows the Tough Pi-ano to stand up to lots of vigorous playing and forceful treatment, providing an excellent resource for the centre.
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