QUOTE - A Remembrance Bookcase

Made by Shengrui Cen, Hannah Moon and Tarika Jain

“Quote” is a bookcase for urban readers. With a quiet outerior, white-coated wood, and natural pine wood legs it fits anywhere in small urban living lifestyles. With IoT connect, “Quote” helps people feel attached to books that they have by displaying the memorable quotes they saved.


Problem Statement / Co-Design

Sarah is 30 years old female working as a Physician Assistant at the UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh. She lives by herself with two cats. Although she has a successful career and loves her life, she always misses her mom who lives in a different city. She becomes even more sentimental when she goes back to her dark home. She loves to read because she has a good memory with her mom reading books before she went to bed every night when she was young. She wishes that there’s a product that helps her delightful childhood memory when she read every night.


Stake Holder

After we interviewed with Sarah, we defined our potential stakeholders as below;

  • Primary stakeholders are young professionals who lives in big cities away from their families
  • Secondary stakeholders are parents or love ones of primary stakeholders, booksellers and furniture makers 
  • Key stakeholders are funders, book authors, publishers, medias 

Design Approach

Our team wants to make sure that Sarah feels homey when she relaxes at her house after spending long hours at the hospital. She is physically and mentally exhausted and wanted to feel eased while she is reading her favorite books at home. Also, she wants to feel connected with her mom away back home. 


Design Decision and Solution

Our team decided to make an ambient bookcase that is connected to other devices, the same bookcase. Once one side of the user picks a book to read from the bookcase, the other side of the device displays the same title and quote. Two devices are connected in distance and help two or many parties to feel more connected to each other by reading the same books because they have something in common to share together. 


System Design Concept

Two and more users are interconnected with each other with the particle cloud system.  We want our bookcase helping us connect with the people in our lives and build intimate relationships by sharing common knowledge of reading books.  


Component and Supplies

  1. Particle Argon with headers
  2. USB Micro B Cable
  3. Wifi Antenna
  4. 1 Mini Breadboards
  5. 2x16 I2C 5V LCD Screen
  6. Alligator clamps
  7. 5V voltage regulator
  8. 9V battery
  9. Several Wires as needed and retray
  10. Copper Fibers (for making manual switch)
  11. Copper wires
  12. LED lights
  13. 2 x 4.75kΩ resistors and 3 x 1kΩ resistor

Development Procedure

  1. Co-design with a friend
  2. Design the logic system of program
  3. Check items that we need additionally especially the ones we do not have in our studio.
  4. Write the coding according to the design we envisioned.
  5. Connect with particle cloud.
  6. Make a 1st proto bookcase with foam-core.
  7. Install wires and sensors into the bookcase.
  8. Connect a breadboard with wires.
  9. Test out the entire system. 

User Test

Sarah tested the sample and shared her experience with our team. She liked the sample overall and suggested one major improvement - changing sensors. Although she liked our first proto a lot, she did not like the way that she has to pay extra attention when she returns the books to the bookcase. She asked us if we can eliminate pedals and replace them with different sensors. In that sense, she does not have to worry about putting the books back to exact spots to land the books on the pedals.

We foresee her feedback and will iterate the sensors and the design accordingly.

We also found that the LED screen displayed symbols or alphabets instead of illuminating full sentences of quotations during the demonstration. After we disconnect the powers and plugin, it worked, but we will debug code error and fix the malfunctioning screen.  


Circuit diagram



// This #include statement was automatically added by the Particle IDE.
#include <LiquidCrystal_I2C_Spark.h>

//Setup led pin
int yellowLed = A2; //yellow
int blueLed = A0; //blue
int greenLed = A1; //green
//Setup tilt sensor Pin
int blueSwitch = D4;
int greenSwitch = D5;
int yellowSwitch = D6;
 * Setup tilt value
int blueState = LOW;
int greenState = LOW;
int yellowState = LOW;

LiquidCrystal_I2C *lcd;

int lastSecond = 0;
int off = 1;
 * For now hard coded the code for demostration purpose
char yellowQuote[] = "Whether or not it draws on new scientific research, technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science.";
char blueQuote[] = "The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.";
char greenQuote[] = "Going off the script to get more go faster and shortcut your way in success.";

 * Variables to hold characters in the LCD screens, the size of char array is 17 
 * because there is always a additional new line character appended at each end of string
char first_line[17];
char second_line[17];

bool receivingQuote = false;
unsigned long previousMillis = 0;
unsigned long currentMillis = 0;

bool screenOff = true;

void setup() {
    pinMode(yellowLed, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(greenLed, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(blueLed, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(blueSwitch, INPUT);
    pinMode(greenSwitch, INPUT);
    pinMode(yellowSwitch, INPUT);
    lcd = new LiquidCrystal_I2C(0x27, 16, 2);
     * register a cloud function that can be called when a new quote is coming
    Particle.function("receiveQuote", receiveQuote);

void loop() {
    blueState = digitalRead(blueSwitch);
    greenState = digitalRead(greenSwitch);
    yellowState = digitalRead(yellowSwitch);
    digitalWrite(blueLed, blueState);
    digitalWrite(greenLed, greenState);
    digitalWrite(yellowLed, yellowState);
     * if receiving quote, not displaying current quote 
    if (receivingQuote) {
        currentMillis = millis();
        if (currentMillis - previousMillis >= 15000) {
            receivingQuote = false;
            currentMillis = 0;
            previousMillis = 0;
     * if not receiving quote, check the book states. If the state is high, the book is picked up, vice versa.
    } else if (blueState || greenState || yellowState) {
        if (previousMillis == 0) {
            previousMillis = millis();
            if(blueState) {
            } else if (greenState) {
            } else {
    } else {
        // Only shut off the screen when screen is on.
        if (!screenOff) {
            previousMillis = 0;
 * A helper function that takes in a char array and diplay the text on the lcd screen 
 * */
void displayText(const char quote[]) {
    screenOff = false;
    for (int i=0; i < strlen(quote); i+=32) {
        memset(first_line, 0, sizeof(first_line));
        memset(second_line, 0, sizeof(second_line));
        for (int j=0; j < 16; j++) {
            first_line[j] = quote[j + i];
        lcd->setCursor(0, 0);
        for (int k=0; k < 16; k++) {
            second_line[k] = quote[i + k + 16];
        lcd->setCursor(0, 1);

 * A cloud function that receives quote and updates the screen
int receiveQuote(String quoteOverride) {
    previousMillis = millis();
    receivingQuote = true;
    return 1;
 * A helper function that cleans the screen
void clearScreen() {
    screenOff = true;
Arthur Click to Expand
QUOTE - A Smart Bookcase Project
Hannah Moon - https://youtu.be/0PYfpzE6e-U

Next Step 

Our major improvement in this project would be data storage and share. We initially designed the product want our friend to store her memorable quote in the cloud system and erase the data if she wants to update it with new quotes. However, we found the opportunity that the user would feel more connected and attached to the bookcase if they can keep all their memory in the server.  The improved design scenario is attached below.  

Also, we found that similar technology can be adopted by the public library to promote citizens to read more books. One of the visitors to our booth shared his idea of how he would better interact with library bookshelves if the bookshelves speak about books at the library.  

Also improving the sensor parts is a key factor we are considering improving for future development. As our friend Sarah wanted to take and put back books without landing the books on designated spots.  We will explore sensor options to iterate. 

We also want to improve LED screens to be more of an enchant and ambient like "mui: 'Calm' Interface Device Made of Natural Wood".  Please see the attached reference picture below. 

A commercializing bookcase by partnering with book publishers can be an option. Our bookcase can store famous Harry Porter Series or The Hardy Boys Series as gift options for children.  


Team Project Reflection

As part of this group project, we were assigned the task of creating a group presentation in which we would design one of our friends about a chosen IoT topic. My group was able to build and present a successful presentation by building a smart bookcase that connected to a cloud system, creating a prototype, and iterating the sample based on the user test. 

Through this project, our team learned about several factors of collaboration that need to be in place in order for a group to smoothly and successfully reach our final goal. One of these aspects is good lines of communication. At the beginning of the project, we did not divide the job clearly and communicate closely or share the necessary information among team members. 

After we experienced a rough start, our groups divided the workload among members clearly to move closer to the final goal and were able to accomplish our final goal on time.  We have learned how to fulfill each assigned role according to the group's established timeline. 

Next time, we all hope to be flexible with each other's ideas to determine what would work for the project or how to make something work even better as a team. 

It was a great learning experience.   

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“Quote” is a bookcase for urban readers. With a quiet outerior, white-coated wood, and natural pine wood legs it fits anywhere in small urban living lifestyles. With IoT connect, “Quote” helps people feel attached to books that they have by displaying the memorable quotes they saved.


November 22nd, 2019