Old Sole interrupts normal youthful days to force young people to interact with their environment in a different way. If the young shoe-wearer takes significantly more steps than the elderly individual with the walker, the shoes light up and vibrate uncomfortably, reminding the young person that somebody on the other end of the old sole is not able to keep up.
Limiting the speed of the shoes to the speed of the walker forces the young person to interact with whatever’s there, as someone with mobility issues may have to.
This is not meant to be a user-centered product, or particularly useful in any way. Rather, it is meant to make us aware of age, aging and dying as we walk. One day, the wearer of the shoe will be with the walker and will slow down the shoe walker, bringing the Old Sole full circle.
We spent a lot of time brainstorming, trying to build and jump off ideas. Our original idea was to tackle a targeted user group that usually does not benefit from technology. We thought about building attachments for walking sticks for the blind, wheelchairs, and walkers.
Eventually, we settled on the idea of the walker. Original ideas around the walker were dark -- we were in the design noir mindset. We considered building motors that inhibited walker movement based on bad signs from the world -- falling stock prices, bad weather, etc. Then, we went on a tangent and explored ideas around a social walker; we imagined a series of walkers networked together so the elderly could meet up or navigate. Ultimately, we combined these two ideas, marrying the social aspect with the design noir to come up with the Old Sole.
The walker records the average amount of fluctuations in the FSR over an interval, as does the shoe with its own FSR. The walker sends POST requests to a server, which here is a datastream on data.sparkfun.com, with how many steps it has taken in the last time period. The shoes then read the step counts from the server via GET requests.
Make Your Own
Crafting the Walker
- Hook up Arduino and all circuit components as illustrated in the diagram below.
- Craft an enclosure for the circuitry. In this example, we laser cut pieces of wood to form a box, but any enclosure will work. Make sure that the network-notification LED (red in the above pictures) and the FSR are outside the enclosure.
- Connect the enclosure to the walker with zip-ties.
- Place the FSR on one of the handles and cover both with one layer of felt.
- To start the walker, activate the power source within the enclosure, put the lid on, wait for a network connection (indicated when the red LED turns off).
Putting the Shoes Together
- Assemble the circuitry for the shoes as illustrated in the diagram below.
- Place the FSR inside under the cushioned sole of the shoe, ensuring that the wires from the FSR are fastened securely to the shoe.
- Fasten the breadboard and the Arduino to each side of the shoe. Alternatively, make a PCB board (thereby minimizing the circuitry) and fasten ad libitum.
- To start the shoes, attach the power source and operate in the same manner as the walker.
Connecting the Shoes, Walker, and Server
- Set up a data stream at data.sparkfun.com. Modify the Arduino code for the walker such that the Arduino makes POST requests to your datastream. This will involve modifying the
#DEFINEdirectives at the top of the file such that variables like WEBSITE actually match your datastream. See the attached code and data.sparkfun.com for more information.
- Do the same for the code for the shoes.
- Activate the power source on both devices. The network-notify LED should immediate
- Begin taking steps with the shoes and the walker. Note that when the network-notify LED is on, data is being sent from the device to the server, and no information is being read from the FSR about the amount of steps being taken.
- After the connect notify activates and deactivates on the walker, check the datastream. There should be values logged ("steps"). If not, debug by plugging the walker Arduino into a serial monitor and ensuring that a) proper values are being read from the FSR and that b) the HTTP requests are working.
- Now, whenever the shoe has more steps within the interval than the walker, it will actuate!