The Problem: Children with autism and fragile X syndrome have trouble expressing their emotions.
The Solution: The Emotion Owl provides an outlet for these children to show how they feel with different color lights and brightness depending on certain hand motions they make.
Detailed Solution: The children can show the owl to family and friends to express themselves instead of talking or lashing out. The Owl also has a heart beat which can help calm the children down.
Main Story or Theme: Kids with fragile X syndrome can lash out when they are scared or angry because they can’t control their emotions or they are not getting enough attention. This can become more dangerous as they get stronger. Also some children with autism don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions directly. We wanted to create a way for the children to express themselves calmly and get the satisfaction of being heard and recognized.
Mechanics: The Emotion Owl has ten LED lights in it that light up five different colors corresponding to hand gestures read by the MYO. A fist means you are angry and turns the light red. If your fingers are spread, you are disgusted turning the light green. Waving your hand in means that you are sad turning the light blue whereas turning your hand out means you are happy turning the light yellow. The last gesture is double tapping meaning you are afraid turning the light purple. There is also a steady heart beat to relax the child made by a vibrating motor.
Development: We started out by thinking of different ways to help children express their emotions. We had an idea of a dog stuffed animal, race cars that light up, owl stuffed animal, and a game. We decided to build the owl and we incorporated LED lights and vibration. The owl is both used to express emotion and comfort the child.
Challenges: We faced various challenges throughout our project. We had lots of trouble with the sewing machine, getting the right materials and also needed help with programming. There was various technical difficulties involving the LED lights and also the MYO device was very difficult to sync up with different peoples arms and also to the computer.
Our first iteration was a small stuffed owl with a blue beak and a big red heart. We had five LED lights that lite up if you pressed a button and the brightness was controlled by a potentiometer. In our second iteration we updated the owl design and added a vibrating motor to simulate a heartbeat. We added a small hole behind the sewn heart for the motor to go. We also added a flap in the back to put the arduino in. For this iteration we used the MYO to control the LED lights instead of the button and potentiometer.