Harpa – which recently surfaced on the official Arduino blog – is a large hand crafted elephant lamp shade with Wifi controlled RGB LEDs, microphone, speaker and a custom designed iPad application to teach children about color.
Originally conceived as a small paper origami elephant with blinking LEDs, the model was designed in Blender and 3D printed as a solid wireframe using the Shapeways service.
“The idea with the wireframe was to hand sew all the faces onto the model, that way I could try different materials as well as save money on the 3D print (printing filled surface faces would cost thousands at that size),” Harpa creator Trent Brooks explained in a recent blog post.
“The electronics are driven by an [Atmel-based] Arduino Mega 2560 board (ATmega2560 MCU) with Ethernet shield for network control. Connected to the board is a 50cm 5V RGB addressable LED strip with 30 LEDs, a 3.3V microphone module for sound detection and an 8ohm speaker for playing back generated ‘white-noise’ audio. Total cost for the all the electronics was less than $100.”
According to Brooks, the custom iPad application allows children to learn about color by selecting from various presets. Essentially, the primary interface displays a grid of colored elephant heads. When one is selected, the name of the color is pronounced, while the main night light changes color.
“There is a hidden control panel in the iPad app which allows me to change some of the more advanced features. For example, I can switch the ‘white-noise’ speaker on,” he added.
“[Plus] I can switch on audio reactive mode which uses the microphone to detect variations in sound level to change the LED colors (great when playing music, not so much for a sleeping baby); I can also change the number of LED’s, brightness, saturation and have them auto cross fade into different colors.”
Interested in learning more about Harpa? You can check out the project’s official page here.