Reading about the COVID-19 Pandemic and how communities and people are find happiness and joy amidst this major health crisis. Focusing on the "Community" theme for this Global Hackathon, a simple non-contact mood light could be a special way of staying happy and positive in this time. Small and compact, this type of unit could be placed near window sills so at night-time, the lights (red, green, blue, purple etc - programmable) can display different emotions or simply colorful lighting. Moreover, for young children caught up in isolation, a soft-toy of choice can be used to activate and change this 'mood light'. This was inspired by the news that people were placing teddy bears on their doorways and homes for children to have some entertainment.

What it does

The default light upon power up is a soft yellow light. When the user removes the soft-toy (for a hug or play with their soft-toy) the microcontroller determines how long until the soft-toy is replaced ontop of the light. Then the light changes according to this time period. A second functionality is that the push button cycles through the different colored patterns (red, green, blue and rainbow).

How I built it

I re-purposed an old plywood laser cut box to house a 24 ring NeoPixel LED. A breadboard circuit involving an Arduino Nano and an ultrasonic sensor provides the automated mood light functionality.

Challenges I ran into

Working out how the timing would work with the ultrasonic sensor. Positioning of the ultrasonic sensor was a bit tricky. Keeping the wires tidy and not too messy for a prototype. Securing the power source and Neopixel inside the box was delicate but for a rough prototype was suitable.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Making a working prototype in around 1 day. Making a reasonably responsive mood light with low cost and minimal electronics.

What I learned

I learnt about mood lights and what different colors can have on a person's emotions, eg: warm light, cool light, yellow light at dawn/dusk. This project also brushed up my programming skills and state machine design as well as RGB color combinations.

What's next for Low-Cost Hands-Free Mood Light with Teddy Bear Activation

  • Design a PCB to house the electronics for a more robust solution.
  • Improve the mounting for the NeoPixel.
  • Design a better soft-toy mounting plate/make it look more inviting.


Try It out



arduino, neopixel

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