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Project Goal

The goal of our project was to enhance the social interaction among customers during their time spent in a Chinese brunch with a global context. This was to be achieved by the use of IoT devices enabled by basic inputs and outputs controlled via the internet.

Design Context

Dim Sum restaurants are a traditional place for Chinese elder people to spend hours hanging out with friends or families and are thus spaces for social interaction. We envision a future in which these restaurants are popular among the younger generation, as well as outside of China. 

In this situation, how can we use ambient devices to ensure that the social environment is maintained and is not taken over by people checking their smartphones? 

How might we motivate people to stay away from their smart devices and interact more with others? The key to this question is to establish a positive reinforcement, or a reward, for staying away from their smart phone while dining at the table. 

Image result for dimsum restaurant


We achieved the above by rewarding patrons with a painting inspired by Chinese art. An IoT device senses whether or not each person has placed their phones on the phone tray. If they have, an electronic painter starts creating a painting. The painting will get interrupted if they pick up their phone, but will resume painting if the phone is replaced. This motivates them to stay away from their phones and interact with friends.


The biggest concern regarding our idea was to have a control over the flow of ink and also to move the outlet of ink to and fro above the canvas. To do so, we needed to find a pump which would drip paint slowly enough, as well as a motor which would move the paint dripper across slowly enough. Also the art created could not be predicted as it depended on the flow of paint drops over the canvas by gravity. During the trial process, the drops had a tendency to follow a particular flow path. Also an even application of paint over the canvas was impossible. We had to rely on the beauty of randomness as a piece of art. This indeed was working.


Taking our idea forward we decided to use the following devices to enact our scenario:-

1) A peristaltic pump to drop the paint. it is reliable as the pump is exterior and we would get paint to drip slowly enough for our purpose.

2) Motor with belt drive to achieve the linear motion from Left to Right, back and again as a cycle.

3) Switch with extended arm to act as the phone sensor.

4)Potentiometer to denote the time spent at the table which would determine the finishing time of the painting.


INPUT: phone in phone tray (press down switch) and the timer being set (potentiometer)
OUTPUT: Painting (movement of the pump and the motor)

Bill of Materials

  • Particle Photon ×2
  • Potentiometer  ×1
  • Omron 1185RE8 switch  ×2
  • Press button  ×1
  • White LED  ×2
  • Green LED  ×1
  • 1000 Ω Resistor  ×3
  • Pump  ×2
  • DC motor  ×2
  • H bridge  ×1
  • 12V power source  ×1
  • Jump wires  ×n
  • Cardboard  ×1
  • Painting canvas  ×2
  • Black thick foam core  ×1
  • Golden texture paper  ×1
  • Wood stick  ×12
  • Wax  ×1
  • White acrylic  ×1

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