Feel The Time

Final video


There are tactile watches on the market, and there are even haptic ones out there. The former is in wide use by the blind, and the latter is not so commonplace. But a haptic watch can be useful to the deaf-blind.

The first thing I did for this project was to design the vibration patterns. I wired a buzzer to an Adafruit Feather board, and wrote some code that would give the vibrations I had in mind.

The vibrations are as follows:

Long vibration for ones.

Two short vibrations for fives.

Short vibration, medium vibration, short vibration for tens.

The watch will vibrate ones until it gets to five. Then it vibrates the fives pattern plus ones for numbers beyond five. When it gets to ten, it vibrates the tens vibration, then adds ones and fives until it reaches two tens, and so on.

For example, for 3:49, the watch vibrates three times with the long tones for ones, then pauses for a couple of seconds to separate the hours from the minutes. Then it vibrates the tens pattern 4 times, the fives pattern once, and the ones pattern 4 times to indicate 49, or 40 plus five plus 4.

I introduced the circuit and code to power and vibrate a haptic motor. The first time I plugged things in, the motor vibrated erratically, but this meant that the circuit and the code were working to some extent.

Meanwhile I was designing the box to hold the watch components. This would consist of a laser-cut base that would be attached to velcro straps on both sides, topped with a cylindrical 3D-printed case.

The cylindrical case is finished off with a round disc with a hole on it to support a panel-mount button.

Working, Not Working

When I started changing the code, I got it into a non-working state. It isn’t easy for me to make sure I have the right amount of braces, {}, in my code, so fellow ITP first year Luming Hao helped make sure that code got cleaned up.

Another difficulty with the code was that I put a later version of the code file in the same folder as a previous version. This made the Arduino IDE think that both files were part of the same project. I found this out after some collaboration with Noah, and learned not to put things into the same folder that don’t belong together when writing code.

With my lesson learned, I had things not working again. This time one of my wires broke. This time I collaborated with Mary and asked her to wire the motor to the wrong pin on the Gemma. Twice. I would only find this out after a few hours of sleep, and a fresh batch of energy. My bad.

While my circuit was broken, I was able to work on the code to get the vibration patterns correct by using a spare vibration motor circuit I had on a breadboard.

Finally, with code in hand, and circuit a little funky, I was able to tell time haptically, if not consistently.

The following video shows me working with the haptic watch, able to tell the time.