Now that clear needs were found, it was time to brainstorm ideas for media technology innovation to positively improve these points.
The question was:
What device can be made to control media in tune with or intelligently in leading of each student’s bodily rhythm to improve calmness, focus, and entertainment?
I outlined a few ways an electronic device could read the psychological status of a student using aspects of certain existing sensor tech.
- brain wave sensor
- skin conductivity sensor
- heart beat sensor
- blood oxygen sensor
- breathing sensor
- motion sensor
- optical facial expression sensing
- sweat sensor
I then outlined a few possible ways a device could control a screen media player.
- IR remote control
- Direct computer control using hotkeys and automatic USB HID keystroke injection
- Bluetooth HID
Ultimately, I decided on using an optical heart rate sensor which looks for minuscule skin color fluctuation caused by the heart pumping blood. Since heart rate is innately tied to feelings and brain activity, this is the method I find most fitting.
For playing the media, my go-to way is the open-source VLC media player desktop app (not the limited version on the Windows store) because it has hotkey combos that work well for controls. This will work in conjunction with a board based on the atmega32u4 microcontroller chip because a computer can recognize it as a HID (human-interface-device) without difficult-to-find drivers.
This is familiar because I have previously used these boards to make an automatic keyboard (USB Rubber Ducky) for my job where I had to bulk set up Chromebooks and needed an automated assistant to work alongside me. I simply plug the board into the computer and it did all the computer configuration, imitating a human typist with 2x to 3x my human speed and zero typing errors which freed me for specialized human work as opposed to these sorts of repetitive, time-constrained, and human-error-prone tasks.
The chip will read heart sensor data, process it through some clever algorithms, and output keystrokes to control the VLC media player app on each computer.
I sketched out a few ideal methods that the device might utilize to induce certain effects onto a user. I came up with three theoretical modes.