We were asked to use existing infrastructure on the street to create an interesting experience for pedestrians. We chose to focus on the problem of littering, specifically cigarette butts. We started with an idea of an trash disposal that encourages people to throw away trash. Use entertainment and fun to encorage people to dispose of their trash. The original idea was to have a ring of lights around the top of the trash can, so that when somebody threw something out, there would be small light show. This would encourage people to throw things away by adding an aspect of fun to it. While looking for trash cans to use for our project, we noticed that the main problem with littering on the street was not the trash mostly, but cigarette butts. After we made this made this observation we decided mold our idea that it was more important to focus on cigarette butts, since we saw many more of them on the street than trash. Like with our idea for the trash can, we wanted to add something to the cigarette disposal to make it unique. We wanted to keep with the general idea of having something on the top of the disposal to encourage people to use it. Once we looked at a couple cigarette disposals, we morphed our old idea of the jaws and came up with the idea of a monster on the top.
Originally our idea was to use a distance sensor to sense an approaching object, and trigger a motor. This would result in the monster's jaw opening on one side, the gears rotate the other half. We chose our location to be near MIT outside a bar, since generally people smoke more around alcohol. The monster would not be seen at first, so that when someone would put their cigarette in, it would be a surprise. Eventually, we realized that this would not fix our original idea, seeing that people were not throwing away their cigarettes int the disposals in the first place
We then modified out idea to be more stationary. Going more with our original idea, we wanted a reaction when someone activated the monster by throwing something inside. So, now the monster would cough when something was thrown inside. We then designed the monster's face, so that the only hole it had was the mouth, and the single eye was the speaker. This way, we could have complete control over where the cigarette fell. The falling cigarette would break a beam of light shining onto a light sensor, and trigger the coughing. Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to fit a laser pointer into a small space with room for a cigarette to be able to pass through cleanly, so instead, we decided to have the laser pointing into a mirror, and then onto the light sensor.
We ended up finishing the project, and put it to use. Our biggest problem was that the actual monster did not fit inside the disposal how we originally wanted it to, instead it rested on top of the cigarette disposal.