Day 6: The Elbow Detector

For airplanes, elevators, and other tight spaces, the Elbow Detector is a wearable device that notifies you of the presence of another elbow so you can avoid that embarrassing moment of bumping elbows with a stranger.

I have two variations in mind: the silent notifier (that signals the wearer with a small vibrating motor) and the alarm system (a more aggressive version that activates a buzzer when the elbows get too close).

I made a rough prototype using the Arduino Lilypad, a Maxbotix Ultrasonic Rangefinder, and a Radio Shack buzzer mounted on an ever-so-elegant wrist band from American Apparel.

Better documentation coming soon. It basically works, but here are some next steps:

  • Smoothing code. Right now I’m just doing down & dirty “if the sensor value is below X, then turn on the buzzer”, which obviously makes the buzzer a bit warbly.
  • A different form factor. Obviously a wrist band is meant to be worn on the wrist, not on the elbow. Might try working off of an elbow brace like this or else making a custom piece.
  • A different sensor. Though I am interested in proximity, the Rangefinder doesn’t provide enough resolution in the distance range that I’m interested in. Ideally, I’d like to be able to sense the difference between something being 1 or 2 inches away.

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