Interactive Light Display

Team 22 Interactive Technologies members: Daniella Larez, Ryan Field, Jeffrey Hollocher, and Justin Flammia

The text between the two horizontal lines is your input with smart quotes replaced with ordinary quotes, and dashes replaced with hyphens. The team’s soothing light display was developed to assist educators of special needs students at the Carter School. Marianne Kopaczynski, director of the school, wanted an electronic display that would show the students how their actions can affect their surroundings. The display needed to have large, easily manipulated buttons for students with poor motor skills. The LEDs are red and amber colored, which are the most visually stimulating colors for visually impaired students. The display uses a standard 120V AC outlet and can be plugged into any wall socket.

“One of the challenges for me was deciding what kind of technology to use and how advanced it should be. We went with the FPGA, which is kind of the minimalist path and we interfaced with just the right amount of memory we need,” said Jeffrey Hollocher.

Two columns of LEDs on either side of the LCD monitor flash while a picture on the LCD monitor moves on screen. Another push of a large, bright button will stop the dance and show another of the three pictures. A demonstration mode cycles through the pictures when the display is turned on and the LEDs can be switched off to allow only the screen to operate.

“We created a circuit board that interfaces all the components together. We used the evaluation board, which fits right into the circuit board we made. Buttons, switches, LEDs, and everything plugs into that,” said Hollocher.

One challenge the team was unable to overcome was a customer specification to allow the LEDs to react to voices. According to the team, a digital signal processing board for audio functions cost more than they could afford on the tight senior project budget. Despite the challenges, the team was satisfied with their completed, functioning project.

“It definitely pushed me in the direction of things I like to do. I found that I like doing hardware design more than any of the other options,” said Ryan Field. “We’ve seen multiple sunrises, but it was worth it.”