Showing posts from December, 2013

FYP: Lego - the best form of rapid prototyping

So Progressing on and actually starting the build of this hunk of technology I decided to tackle the servo first, as I had all the equipment all ready. So simple enough I hooked up the servo to the Arduino and managed to get it working fine with a couple of test values. Using some of the stuff I learned from Chris' and the IBM workshops I wrote a little sketch that connects to the web through my WiFi and subscribes to a topic on Chris' remote MQTT broker. It takes the values coming in from the topic and if they're integers and between the values of 0 and 170 it sends them to the server. I'm using a max value of 170 because my little ol' servo's a bit busted and struggles with values above 170. Using I sent some test values over and it after a little fiddling it worked.

The next step was to hook up the servo to a set of speakers. I attached a spoked attachment onto the servo, and then taped the attachment onto the volume control for my parents' PC.


VC: Resource Database

Relevant - Main initial company influence - Digital Agency based in New York known as the ‘Custom tailors of the tech world’ - Agency in Savvanah, Georgia that do both client and personal - Digital agency in San Fransisco, who only create products they want to - Company working for profit alongside aiding and developing government - Company in the southwest - part of Plymouth University, working with vaired projects from print, to web deisgn to - Freelancer graduated from university, now running his own 9-6 business while running research/self-development side - Local graphic communication studio, working in the relevant field.Contacted people/ - Contacted and interviewed Ben by - Spoken to the founder breifly at a networking event, found out interesting fact that they are …

VC: Elevator Pitch

We filmed our elevator pitch today. Doing this we decided we were going to approach it by actually filming ourselves talking to unsuspecting 'victims' in an actual lift about Bento to see what they think, and whether or not they actually understood what we were. We had a sort-of-script that we used, which we very, very loosely stuck to. We talked on the fly mostly about the company, trying to embody our goals and vision in the way we talked. Filming was done using Chris' GoPro attached to the inside of one of the lifts inside the Roland Levinsky building on campus. Here's the result:

The results were definitely mixed. There were many who didn't really seem to be with it, but mostly because they were evidently rushing around Roland Levinsky trying to get deadlines done. However we got quite a few good responses who really seemed to enjoy the idea.

EW Project 2: Presentation and conclusion

So the presentation went pretty well. After a little calibration with our 'garbage simulation ballasts' the system worked extremely well. It worked consistently and reliably. Here's us tinkering with the system with our chosen ballasts, cans of cool refreshing Coca Cola. Here's us doing some last-minute tinkering:

And here's a link to the presentation:
Overall I felt the presentation went really well. I think we conveyed the idea fairly effectively and the demo went off without a hitch. One thing we probably should have elaborated on a bit more was the reward system. 
Some future improvements to the system include:

Weekly or monthly scores. While doing it live is pretty cool, it can be wildly unreliable as it relies on the trash currently in the bin, which can vary so much. However averaging it over a longer period of time would produce a nice average score over the course of a longer, more representative timeframe/Developing further on the fir…

VC: Bento Roles & Business Pitch

So after much deliberation and focus on getting our mission, vision and some of other core ideals of Bento set in stone on content we began the work our presentation. It took a lot of thought to decide on the content of the presentation. To begin with we took our mission, vision and some core ideas. A lot of it had to be cut out to properly format it in the form of a presentation.

Another thing we had to sort out was roles. We set about creating two roles for each of us, one more technically oriented and one business oriented. Knowing where each of our strengths and weaknesses were, Cai's role was fairly easy to define as the Lead Designer and Creative Director. However both Chris and I are primarily developers, so this was a little tricky. We decided to name me the Lead Developer and Technical Director, while Chris went with Interaction Developer and Managing Director. While these are great on paper in reality our set roles would be a bit more blurred, put perfectly by this quot…

EW Project 3: Development

To to begin development on this project we needed to sort out how we'd measure the content on the bins. One of the ideas was to use the ultrasound distance sensors on the lids to see how high the bins had piled up. However Mike mentioned to us that another group were already using this. Feeling the way to go was weight we asked Mike if DAT had any weight sensors. Alas not. Mike did say DAT had some force sensors though. These were similar to the ones we'd used for Coffee.

It was interesting to work our the pressure sensors. I wired them up and they looked something like this:

Once this was wired up I used the serial connection to monitor the values coming from each. Unfortunately the force sensitive resistors were both reading different values, with one of them having total inconsistency and acting rather sporadically. After bashing my head against this, rewiring and rewriting the code and getting nowhere I enlisted the help of one of my housemates, Simon - a robotics student.…

EW Project 3: Smarter Planet

So we were given the brief for this IBM Smarter Planet Project. To begin with we were pretty confident about this. Pretty quickly coming up with the idea of using Arduino to remotely control volume of an Hi-Fi. However this was very quickly dismissed once we further understood the scope of the project, and how this didn't really fit the brief. We struggled pretty hard for the rest of the session to come up with a viable project. Instead making a Heliduino:

The tutorial portion of the workshop was pretty cool. Chris Hunt and the IBM lads were showing us how to use Node Red, an IBM developed open-source webapp that lets you take inputs, manipulate them and connect them to outputs. Really simple concept, and pretty well implemented. I learned quickly how this Node Red thing worked, and it was pretty cool as it was based on Node JS, which is something I'm keen on learning anyway.
We all met up in the next session where we struggled just as much to come up with ideas. We thought ab…

VC: Quote

We decided to make Cai's initial idea, Quote, to demonstrate the research projects we undertake in Bento. Cai made a really nice mockup, and went on to develop the website. I later added in sharing to Facebook functionality. Quote is live here:


We came up with the concept of the to allow is to engage creatively with the URL. For example our holding page is In future when we launch we could have could be the team page, could be an about page and so on.

The holding page was pretty fun to develop. Cai being our designer made a mockup of the website in Photoshop, which both Chris and I liked. Cai then made a static HTML version of the page and handed it over to me to implement the functionality for the signup portion. We felt this went pretty well and were really happy with the result:

VC: The name Bento & Branding

We went through a few names deciding what we'd call ourselves. After a lot of though we settled on the name 'Bento'. This is based on the Japanese bento box. The Japanese bento is a collection of various food items, generally rice, vegetables and meat. This food is placed in individual sections of a sectioned-off shallow box. Bento boxes are generally very well presented, and both delicious and aesthetically pleasing. Here's an example of a bento box from Koishii, a Japanese restaurant that we went to for lunch and to take some photographs for our branding material and website:

Feeling that the concept of a bento box related to our ideals we decided to call ourselves Bento. Providing technology, a service and our skills - all of which come together in a nice, beautifully packaged product.
For the branding we wanted to embody the following ideas: 
FunApproachableEncompassing our skillset - demonstrating what we doQuality of design Clear readability
Chris knocked up mock…

VC: Defining our Unique Selling Point (USP)

Once again following a similar process we developed our USP.
Our USP is that we are working in the future. We have that advantage over competitors, who are working in the past. Chris: 
Our USP is twofold. Firstly we truly enjoy what we do, which inspires us to do the best job that we can possibly do. Secondly that we are working in the future; ordinary items can be intelligent, an ad campaign can be a circuit board, and a public space can react when it knows who you are.  Sidd:
Our biggest USP is the fact that we really enjoy what we do - we find our line of work extremely fun and challenging.
Chris' USP was clearly the strongest of the three and embodied our ideals very well. Because of this we decided that his one was clearly the one we should use.

VC: Defining our Vision Statement

We followed the same process creating our vision statement as we did with our mission statement. Here are the results:

We provide clients with a broad skill set, that enriches their product. Through having the leading edge on competition, a premium quality will be met on all briefs, whilst combining this with a fruitful process of collaboration. Chris:
We provide our clients with expert marketing in both the digital and physical space. We work closely with our clients and thoroughly enjoy the work we do. We see ourselves as people who take the amazing power of what can be done online and bring it into real world experiences. We want to bring our clients into the future.  Sidd:
We provide you with a friendly, approachable all-in-one service for all your creative and technical needs, from digital installations to complex web applications. We aim to take your brief and through a close relationship, work with you to deliver the best possible bespoke solution; delivering only the highe…

VC: Defining our Mission Statement

So we sat down together to discuss our mission statement, vision statement and unique selling point (USP). We were all pretty in sync about the core ideals of the company. We decided the best way to come up with a solid mission and vision statement was to go off and each do one. We'd later get together and combine our ones to form the final statements. Here's what we did for our mission statement:
Cai: To be the number one advanced technology agency in the south west of England. Providing clients with products that appropriately meet the desired brief 48 hours before the specified deadline. Retain 80% of customers in future services, through implementing thorough design techniques and combining this with the highest quality standards of work that adapts to the benchmarks of the industry. 
Chris: Our mission is to become a successful digital agency developing in the Future. We will use the new and unexplored industry of physical computing, combined with absolute beautiful design…