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"During daytime, I want to enjoy the window on the world, but at night I want to retreat to the peace and coziness of my home. What if my window curtains can be automatically opened and closed when the sun rises and sets." 

The target audience of this IoT appliance is my friend. As we talked about the problems he had, he mentioned the curtain in his bedroom a lot. He hates his curtain because he finds he has a problem to wake up if using a lightproof curtain but has a problem to wake up too early if using a normal curtain. He loves nature, so he thinks it makes much sense to wake up with rays of bright sunlight in the morning. Through a co-design exercise, we brainstormed potential ideas and outlined his main pain points. 


A smart curtain automatically opens and closes your curtains when the sun rises and sets.


I first determined which sensors would be needed to collect data. I decided to use a light sensor. Then I find it is really hard to prototype the movement of the curtain. My initial design is to use a motor to move a rubber conveyor that is connected with the curtain. Here's a scratch of my design. In fact, I have several different designs, including using a screw rod, using two motors with a line, and using conveyor. Finally, I decided the use adopt the conveyor design because it's both cheap and easy.


List of Parts:

  • 1 breadboard
  • 1 Particle Argon
  • 1 light Sensor
  • 1 motor
  • 2 resistors
  • 1 USB Micro B Cable
  • 8 Jumper Wires

Next Steps

If I would have some time working on this smart curtain, I would add three more functions.

  1. Open and close curtains directly from mobile phones. Set timers to open and close them at a fixed time.
  2. Connect to the alarm clock on your phone and let your curtains wake you with the bright sunlight in the morning.
  3. Automatically close your curtains when everyone leaves the house until someone comes home. 


I asked my friend to test the prototype. He loves it, and she suggested it can be better if I can make a prototype that works on a real curtain. He also suggested to make this more flexible, be able to work on people's existing curtains. He mentioned he feels it is not natural enough to control the curtain with his phone, he would love it more with voice. 


This was the first time for me to think like an engineer and really build something by code. I enjoyed solving problems, different types of problems. Never say I don't understand something or that something is impossible or can not be done. Everything can be done you just need some time to learn about it. This project is not easy and requires a lot of work and a lot of errors, but is really satisfactory being able to address any problem that somebody has and fixing it.

Motorized blinds are used to be one of the most expensive connected devices to install. However, with a small motor and a small light sensor, an automatic curtain can be really cheap. You don’t need to be a millionaire to make your home smart. 

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