The Cuckoo Quack - Creating an IoT Web Notification System
20 May 2015
At our annual Quack Hack, the teams were challenged to create projects, inspired by the Internet of Things, in just 32 hours. The Cuckoo Quack was our winner, turning an antique clock into a web notification system.
During our summer agency hackathon, we set the teams an ‘Internet of Things’ challenge: transform an everyday object in the physical world, by making it connect and react to online activity. The Cuckoo Quack was originally devised, designed and built in just 32 hours: transforming an antique cuckoo clock into a sophisticated physical notification device.
The modified clock can be triggered by emails or tweets, and has also been flexibly configured to receive and present notifications from other services. It’s intended as a unique feature of our office, tracking and alerting the team to a variety of key notifications. Originally, the information was fed through an Arduino, with a node.js server running on the Raspberry Pi. This triggered the ‘cuckoo’ of the clock to chime and pop out, grabbing the attention of everyone in the office!
In the video above, we showcased the original clock in action following the hackathon; it was launched to great success earlier in 2014, marking the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Arduino Day’ celebrations. But the fun didn’t stop there: we had big plans for the Cuckoo Quack…
The Cuckoo Quack Evolves
Future developments with the clock saw us use lean principles, allowing us to evaluate key features to build, and which to drop. We applied emotional design theory to the production, aiming to ensure the product can satisfy physical, psychological, social and ideological needs and values.
This research has fed into improvements for the physical design, retaining a nod to the classic cuckoo clock design, while adding our unique agency personality. We have also added a smart, multi-faceted digital display which shows rich notifications from various web-based sources, as well as, of course, showing the current time.
As for technical development, the clock has been streamlined to simply use Raspberry Pi, with a Spark to control the electronics. It also uses Leap Motion, so people can interact with the clock using gestures and movement. We’ve added an 8-inch LCD screen to display information and notifications digitally, too.
The new and improved cuckoo clock is now a centrepiece of our office. From its perch in the corner, it keeps us on our toes as we create new products for our clients.
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