The motivation for this project stems from the general lack of innovation and modern conveniences present in current podcast players, as well as the desire to be able to automatically skip advertisements in podcasts. The three project objectives are to allow for advertisements to be skipped automatically while listening to podcasts, to accurately recommend new podcasts to users, and to facilitate improved sharing of podcasts on social media. The design approach to solve the primary objective is to crowdsource the intervals during a podcast episode that users have skipped over, and to use this data to infer and skip over the ad locations for other users. Recommendations are provided to users through the use of machine learning algorithms in conjunction with user preference data. Podcast shareability is achieved by allowing users to mark and share intervals of interest within an episode through a URL link. All three features are unique and unprecedented in existing podcasting applications which immediately differentiates this implementation. Building this project requires upper-year knowledge from a variety of courses such as signals and systems, software architecture, databases, security, and distributed computing.
ILIFT: Smart Barbell Spring Collars
Working out can often be challenging. Sometimes gym-goers seek help from personal trainers; however, they are expensive and sometimes insufficient, and manually tracking workouts can be tedious. The goal of this project is to provide an affordable, automated tracking and feedback system for workouts that require a barbell. The ILIFT Smart Spring Collars provides the user with real-time feedback and statistics including automatic rep tracking, detection of weight used, exercise performed, and form correctness. The system comprises embedded electronics, specifically an accelerometer, gyroscope, vibration sensor, and Bluetooth module which pair with a smartphone. The design requires knowledge of cooperative and adaptive algorithms, pattern recognition/machine learning, signal processing and circuits. In comparison to existing alternatives, the main advantages of this solution are that it integrates seamlessly into familiar equipment and requires no body contact.
Guitar sales increased by 4.6% in the United States from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015. However, many beginners give up quickly because it is a difficult instrument to learn and guitar teachers are expensive. The objective of this project is to implement an Android phone application that acts as a tutor for beginners trying to learn how to play the electric guitar. The application corrects the user in real time while they are playing the notes and chords from a predefined list of songs. The application highlights the correct tabs for a specific note or chord and provides real-time feedback for the user. Through the use of audio processing algorithms, spectral analysis can be performed allowing the tone played by the user to be determined and compared to the expected tone. The project works with electric guitar which plugs into an interface adapter that performs analog-to-digital conversion allowing for discretized signal processing. The application is user friendly and robust. Our design has an advantage over other applications that act only as a simple guitar tuner.
Every year, thousands of construction workers suffer from back-related injuries due to incorrect posture when lifting heavy loads on the job. These injuries are not trivial and can take anywhere from a week to a month to recuperate, amounting to thousands of lost person-hours and millions in healthcare costs. Current preventative measures generally boil down to reiterating the same standard advice, instruction, and training on manual material handling (MMH) techniques. Unfortunately, studies show that these measures are ineffective with regards to reducing injury. Flexo will remedy this. Flexo is a low-cost work uniform capable of detecting incorrect posture and alerting the user via lights and/or haptic feedback. This posture-detection wearable makes use of sensors that measure pressure, orientation, and tension on the chest, back and hands. Using the information acquired, the system alerts the user to incorrect posture and reduces the risk of back-related injuries. The design and fabrication of the system makes use of power, circuit design theory, and low-level hardware programming. The main advantage of this design over current alternatives is that it takes an active-alert approach as opposed to a passive reliance on the user to remember their training.
Unwanted external noise sources can be detrimental to sleeping patterns. There are significant negative health effects associated with insufficient sleep, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. There are many noise cancellation techniques available, but they require uncomfortable equipment such as earbuds or headphones which also introduce sleeping difficulty. The objective of this project is to attenuate the strongest frequency sound in a localized region near the ear. The system takes in environmental noise and successively attenuates it by outputting a destructively interfering audio signal generated through adaptive signal processing. The necessary waves are determined using wave and control theory. The benefit of this project over existing alternatives is in its comfortable and simple design. The system does not require complicated installations when compared to acoustic insulation. There is no longer a requirement for uncomfortable equipment such as noise canceling headphones or earbuds. The system prevents ear health issues associated with wearing some existing alternatives.
Human errors result in vehicle collisions that cause 20 to 50 million injuries and 1.3 million deaths annually worldwide. With the number of vehicles continuing to grow, there is a demand for safety measures to prevent these incidences. A current solution uses autonomous driving where vehicles can avoid collisions on an individual basis. However, from the perspective of the individual vehicle, all other adjacent vehicles are beyond its control and a cooperative solution cannot be used. X-Formation is a control system to avoid collisions involving a formation of autonomous vehicles. X-Formation directs a formation of cars on a treadmill to its destination while avoiding obstacles. An overhead camera is used to detect obstacles of a single colour and obtain its variables such as speed and direction. The main advantages of the formation system over individual collision avoidance is a faster response time for avoiding obstacles, better scalability, and improved fuel efficiency with certain vehicle arrangements such as tailgating.
Weight To Go
In Canada, more than 2 in 5 adults are overweight or obese. Diet plays a large role in one’s weight, and currently, it is very hard for consumers to know the exact nutritional breakdown of a meal when cooking at home. This project consists of a cutting board with an integrated scale that connects to an iPhone and allows the user to track the nutritional content of their home-cooked meal. Weigh to Go has a built-in load sensor that communicates with an iPhone over Bluetooth LE. This data is processed against a database of nutritional information and provides the user with the nutritional breakdown. Weigh To Go has a database of pre-existing recipes, making it easy for the user to enter ingredients and find meal ideas. The benefits of Weigh To Go over other conventional cutting boards are that it is a scale in addition to a cutting board, and it can be controlled by the user’s iPhone.
Educational Radio Frequency Receiver
Over the past two decades, wireless communication has seen drastic advancements through the introduction of sophisticated IEEE network standards. These improvements call for stringent requirements on high-frequency circuits which emphasize the importance of detailed noise and distortion analysis on radio frequency (RF) systems. In RF circuits and communication systems courses, students are required to analyze intra-system signals and examine the impact of each building block on the overall performance. Unfortunately, the existing equipment in laboratories does not allow the measurement of these signals. The objective of this project is to design a modular RF receiver kit that operates from 0.8 to 1.9 GHz and supports various digital modulation schemes. This receiver shall be configurable using an intuitive application to provide students the capability to modify receiver parameters and observe the impact of their design choices on each module. Knowledge of RF circuits and systems, wireless communications, signal processing, and control theory is crucial to this project. The advantages of this receiver are its flexibility, relative low cost, and the capability to gain insight into each step of the high-frequency radio receiver process. Further uses of this system include on-boarding new graduates to an end-to-end communication link and hardware analysis.
Automotive Heads-up Display System
According to the National Highway Traffic Association, 16% of fatalities and 20% of injuries related to car accidents are caused due to the driver’s negligence. One of the main causes of negligent driving is drivers diverting their attention from the road in order to check their phone, dashboard, or the vehicle’s infotainment system. If drivers can avoid looking away from the road to get the information they are looking for, the frequency of vehicular collisions can be decreased, making roads safer for all road users. The objective of this project is to design a heads-up display (HUD) system for automotive application. The HUD reduces/removes the need for driver to look away from the roadway by using geometrical and physical optics to project information desired by the user directly onto the vehicle’s windshield. Information is displayed on the windshield using an array of projectors interfaced with a mini-computer that collates and arranges information collected from the driver’s phone and vehicle based on a user defined configuration. This design provides superior flexibility to existing products by allowing the user to configure how and where the information is displayed on the vehicle’s windshield and by being vehicle independent.
Fire Response System
In 2013, firefighters responded to a total of 10,733 fires in Ontario alone. Their ability to respond to and assess a blaze quickly and accurately allows them to rescue victims and save property by suppressing the blaze in its early stages. The main purpose of this project is to design a system that is utilized by the firefighters to survey and assess the blaze. The self-sufficient system, consisting of sensors mounted onto a deployable pole, provides live video and temperature readings to identify blaze intensity and size. This information is transmitted to the firefighters in real-time using knowledge of distributed systems and power semiconductor devices. The gathered information can then be archived and analyzed at a later time to provide additional details about the blaze, and to serve as training data for future firefighters. The main advantage of this system is that it combines multiple sources of data into an intuitive user interface.
Modular Musical Instrument
Live musicians often use multiple keyboards to add variety to their set. These extra keyboards add bulk and weight to a touring band's equipment, and are a hassle to set up and disassemble. The objective of this design project is to create a tunable, modular keyboard that allows a single device to replace the multiple keyboards an artist needs to compose and perform music. A solution to this problem consists of independent modular keys and controls which can be rearranged to enable custom musical modes. These keys can be physically arranged to represent traditional as well as non-Western musical scales, while the various control peripherals emulate features of contemporary digital piano keyboards such as pitch bending and macro recording. The instrument can be reconfigured for performances or editing. This project incorporates elements of analog and digital communication for inter-module control. Digital signal processing is used for mapping key actuations to their appropriate pitches, volumes, timbres, and durations. Furthermore, the individual controls include elements of control system design for debouncing and stabilizing human inputs. An advantage of this keyboard over current alternatives is the ability for the user to reconfigure their workspace according to their needs.
Insightfl: Crowdsourced Insights Collection Platform
Some of the world’s toughest problems can be addressed with advancements in technology. Still, many problems cannot be solved with technology alone. A vast amount of data needs to be collected in order to understand patterns in human behaviour and individualistic thinking. Currently, it is difficult for researchers to track longitudinal data to continuously understand how an individual’s thoughts and opinions change over time. At the same time, overwhelming majorities worldwide find themselves placed in front of intrusive mobile ads with over 30 billion being served every day. The aim of this project is to leverage the reach of mobile advertising platforms for use in distributed data collection. Platforms today serve ads that push products and take users out of the application context. Insightfl instead serves simple tasks within the native application experience. Consisting of an online curation tool, a web service, and a mobile software development kit, building this platform requires a deep understanding of algorithms, data-structures, operating systems, databases, and networking. The expected benefit over existing alternatives, such as Pollfish and Google Consumer Surveys, include providing researchers with the ability to collect ongoing longitudinal data and allowing app users to remain within the native application.
Gesture-Enabled Wheel Interface
Every year, 4 million motor vehicle crashes are caused by distracted driving in North America. A common cause for distracted driving involves a driver configuring the car’s dashboard system, temperature controls settings, or smartphone. There are human computer interface solutions that try to simplify the navigation experience for the dashboard system. However, some of these solutions cause the driver to lose focus on the road. The objective of this project is to design a new human-computer interface that promotes keeping both of their hands on the steering wheel by using multiple sensor technologies on the steering wheel itself to control their dashboard system. The system uses touch and pressure sensors to detect gestures that translate to various controls on the dashboard. The design uses knowledge in digital signal processing, human-computer interfaces, and embedded systems for vehicles. The main advantage of this design over existing alternatives is that the driver is able to control the dashboard system through simple gestures while having their hands on the steering wheel and is able to react faster with the events on the road.
Pursuit: The Self-Following Smart Suitcase Platform
Every day, more than 8 million passengers fly in and out of airports around the world, carrying multiple suitcases and bags along with them. However, hauling several pieces of luggage can be a hassle, making the travelling experience less convenient and less enjoyable. The objective of this project is to improve the travelling experience of passengers by designing a mobile platform to carry one’s luggage. Pursuit uses computer vision and control theory to track and follow the owner autonomously, whilst avoiding obstacles in its path. The application of power electronics is incorporated to efficiently handle resource consumption for vision processing and motion control. Luggage security is also increased by using a mobile notification system which is triggered when the suitcase is no longer within the vicinity of the owner. The main advantages of this design over current alternatives are that it alleviates the requirement of manually carrying the baggage and increases luggage security.
Shadow Kart: Vision-based Semi-Autonomous Follower Robot
Studies show that carrying items reduces postural stability and puts shoulder and upper-limb muscle groups under stress. Elders with ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis need to exercise more caution while carrying objects. Thus, there is a need for a system to help seniors alleviate mobility and independence concerns by providing easier access to important items such as medicine, water, and spectacles. The objective of this project is to reduce the strain on seniors carrying items from place to place. Shadow Kart, a semi-autonomous system, achieves this by carrying the users’ items instead of the users and following the user to his or her desired destination. Initially, the system is paired with the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth. Computer vision is then used to maneuver through obstacles, steer, and keep pace with the user. The design involves an understanding of control systems, cooperative and adaptive algorithms, and machine learning. This solution focuses on assisting seniors with carrying their belongings to increase their mobility and provide independence. Shadow Kart provides a custom solution targeting seniors as opposed to current alternatives, which are sparse, expensive, and used primarily for surveillance or warehouse purposes.
Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, representing around one third of all food generated for human consumption. Losses in the food system occur throughout the supply chain; however, losses at the consumer end double any other step in the chain. This project creates a system that can be integrated into a refrigerator to reduce consumer produce waste. ReFresh warns users when produce is beginning to decay, and preserves food by actively filtering out moisture and ethylene, which accelerate decay. ReFresh uses sensors to monitor gases and moisture released by decaying produce. ReFresh helps preserve produce for longer by circulating air through a filter, reducing moisture and ethylene using a fan. A microcontroller monitors the sensor output and controls the fan, and is also integrated with an interface to warn the user when something is beginning to rot. ReFresh uses signal processing, circuit design, and control theory for implementation. The main advantage of this design is that there is currently no available consumer system that actively monitors produce freshness, circulates and filters air, and warns the user of decay.
As the market for quadcopters has grown over the years, many uses have been found in several different fields ranging from exploration to filming. Typically, controlling a quadcopter is difficult and the user feels disconnected from the process. The objective is to design a quadcopter that provides an immersive experience to the user and is intuitive to control. The proposed system involves video streaming from the quadcopter’s point of view to a virtual reality display on the user’s mobile device utilizing Google Cardboard technology. Furthermore, the user is able to control the quadcopter using head movements and voice commands through the mobile device’s sensors. This design has the benefit of controlling the quadcopter from a first-person perspective allowing the user to naturally guide its movement. In addition, this design simplifies the learning process of flying a quadcopter.
Every day, millions of people go about their morning routines, spending a large amount of time in the bathroom where the tasks are often monotonous and simplistic. Thus there is potential in every person’s morning routine for optimization and multitasking. The objective of this project is to design an intelligent mirror that can passively aid and optimize the user’s morning routine by providing access to common services such as weather, news, email, calendar, and more. The design uses advanced voice control and gesture recognition to create a simplified and personalized experience. Using a microphone and camera system, Speculo can identify users and determine what they are saying in order to react accordingly. The design applies knowledge of embedded systems, image processing, and computer security. This project has several key aspects that differentiate it from other alternatives. Foremost, this design utilizes a combination of voice control as well as facial and gesture recognition, which has not been implemented on any comparable product. In addition, the design allows for full customization of the user interface, offering a greater breadth of functionality than current alternatives, including the ability to read text messages and play music from the mirror directly.
MyIoT Laundry Dryer Accessory
Many major appliance manufacturers are offering Internet-of-Things (IoT) capable products. However, to use these capabilities, one needs to replace existing standard appliances with IoT-integrated appliances. It is expected that the number of IoT-connected devices will triple to approximately 38 billion units by 2020. The outcome of this project is an energy-efficient dryer monitor that is easily added to a standard appliance. This dryer monitor informs the user about the temperature, humidity, and state of the dryer appliance. It also provides diagnostics indicating issues or possible optimizations (such as lint filter cleaning). The monitor uses an embedded system to wirelessly communicate between sensors and a hub. The hub then processes this data using pattern matching algorithms and notifies the user’s smartphone via the internet to changes in the monitored dryer. This project requires knowledge of embedded system design, printed circuit design, wireless communication, and software algorithms. The major benefit of the project is its ability to easily and affordably convert an existing dryer into an IoT-connected dryer.
Rapid Volumetric Crop Yield
The rapid analysis of agricultural yield of all types of crops is crucial to the efficient and competitive operation of farmers within those industries. It is of great importance for farmers to be able to assess the state of their crops, understand the distribution of yield over the field, and make judgements on the quality of their harvest in relation to their farming practices and local environmental factors. This information can be used for crop insurance purposes, harvest delivery estimates, planning storage requirements, and budgeting. This solution utilizes real-time depth sensing technology to determine the volume of the crop traversing a conveyor belt during the harvesting process. The collected data is dynamically stored in a cloud-based solution accessible through a web-based client. Statistics of this nature are especially important for small to mid-sized farmers who cannot afford a great amount of labour or expensive equipment. The methods currently available for measuring volumetric yield are expensive, difficult to install, and are only marginally acceptable in terms of accuracy. The main advantage of this approach is that it presents the opportunity for a more accurate, robust, and low-cost solution that is easily extendable to different installation configurations and applications.
At most golf courses, if a golf ball falls into a waterbody, it is deemed lost, and in most cases no attempt is made to retrieve it. In 2009, a SONAR exploration of Loch Ness, a famous golf course in Scotland, showed over 100,000 golf balls along the bed of the waterbody. Furthermore, non-retrieved golf balls take over 1,000 years to decompose, releasing zinc as they break down. The objective of this project is to create an underwater vehicle that can identify and retrieve golf balls. FETCH uses a camera for underwater vision. An on-board microcontroller runs image processing and computer vision algorithms to analyze the camera’s feed and identify golf balls. The microprocessor also uses control theory to direct the vehicle’s movement. Once the vehicle is positioned accurately over a golf ball, a user can activate the suction mechanism to retrieve the golf ball. The main advantage of this design over other alternatives is that it reduces human effort. FETCH provides an alternative to diving into unknown water conditions or using the Golf ball Wrangler, a highly mechanical solution which entails pulling a chained device from one end of the water body to the other, for golf ball retrieval.
Distributed Water Surveillance System
Water resources in the Region of Waterloo serve more than 500,000 people annually. Approximately 20% of Waterloo water comes from surface water of the Grand River. About 310 water samples are collected manually every month. The objective of this project is to design an automated and distributed water quality surveillance system that allows researchers to gather water quality data remotely in real time from the device. This device is buoyant and consists of underwater and above-water portions. The device first relies on its underwater sensor to extract data with different water quality parameters. Then, collected data is sent to the above water portion of the system where it is processed and encoded into a transferrable format. These data are then periodically sent off to remote terminals to make estimations on water quality. When water degradation exceeds the minimum acceptable threshold, the device alerts the remote terminal by actively sending its collected data. This design involves knowledge of wireless communication, embedded system design, real-time sensors, and power management. The main advantage of this design over existing water surveillance system is that human resources are not required to gather water quality data on-site.
Waker: No More Accidents with Your Eyes Closed
According to the American Automobile Association Foundation, 17% of fatal crashes are the result of drowsy driving. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation shows that 60% of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year. The objective of this project is to design a system that alerts drivers when they are beginning to experience drowsiness. The system consists of a software application that runs on top of a custom hardware system including microcontrollers and electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors. The custom hardware provides raw data readings of brain waves and the software application analyzes the data and alerts drivers when they are sleepy. In addition, an image processing system is used in combination to increase detection quality. Knowledge on statistics, adaptive algorithms, real-time programming, and signal processing are applied. Waker revolutionizes road safety because it can assist over 60% of adult drivers who have admittedly driven while feeling drowsy and improves upon the precision of existing systems relying solely on visual detection.
Existing wireless sound systems that allow users to stream to different areas of the house are expensive and installation can be invasive. The objective of this project is to design an easy-to-use smart audio system that, by means of a mobile application, allows control of audio around the home with sound sent to multiple rooms synchronously with minimum latency. A feature of this system that sets it apart is its Indoor Positioning System, which allows it to track the user as they move throughout the house, allowing the distribution of audio based on the user’s preference. The system can be used to create the illusion of music that “follows” the user. In addition to this, multiple users can stream music while taking advantage of the Indoor Positioning System simultaneously. This project uses knowledge from Embedded Microprocessor Systems, Wireless Communications, Computer Networks, Digital Signal Processing, Wireless Systems Design, and Power Systems and Components. The benefit of this system is that it gives homeowners greater control of audio in their home at an affordable price and without the need to replace existing audio setups.
Medicoo: Behaviour Driven Drug Adherence
Medicine adherence directly impacts the efficacy of the medicine being taken. Birth control, for instance, is only effective if taken within the same period of time each day. This principle applies to other medication such as that given for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and hypertension. The object of this project is to design a system that builds psychological relationships with taking medicine, in the hopes of increasing medicine adherence. The system tracks the user’s behaviours in terms of sleep, location, and travel to provide better reminders specific to the user. In this way, the user has to provide little to no information in order to trigger useful reminders. There are few solutions currently in place that target this specific problem in medicine. Generic reminder solutions do not take into account common failure points when it comes to taking medicine, such as travelling. They also do not consider the behaviour or schedule of the user, outside of what is manually input.
In 2015 there were over 159,000 cases of breaking and entering across Canada. Cottages and other remote properties are prime targets for these crimes as they are often too isolated for the incident to be noticed, too remote for effective law enforcement response, and are frequently vacant for weeks or months at a time. The objective of this project is to provide the owners of such remote properties with a security system which detects when a change occurs and notifies them. The Albatross system is a battery-powered network of sensors and cameras, with a central modem for cellular communication. When a sensor is triggered by a change in or around the building, the system activates the cameras and sends images to the owner via the cellular network to notify them of the changes at their property. Power management, computer networks, and embedded software design are used in this project. The advantage of this system over existing alternatives is its ability to operate on properties that don’t have dedicated power or internet access.
Lucerna: Smart Lamp System
Adequate illumination of large indoor spaces usually requires multiple lighting fixtures, which can be inconvenient to manage without a home automation system. The objective of this project is to provide an automated lighting system that can dynamically adjust lighting output, according to either pre-set rules or user’s custom rules. The Lucerna system detects human activity and ambient light levels, and uses this information to better illuminate the environment. The system consists of multiple lamps that evenly light a room, collect sensor data, and communicate with a base lamp unit that makes decisions. Each lamp uses LED panels to implement different lighting directions, intensities, and colour temperatures, coupled with infrared sensors to detect body heat, a lux meter to detect ambient lighting, and a microcontroller with networking capabilities to transmit data. The base unit features a built-in display to show system status, select operation modes, or create custom user modes. The solution involves knowledge of distributed computing, computer networks, databases, embedded systems, control theory, and analog circuits. This solution is advantageous to others on the market because it autonomously adjusts lighting based on detected conditions and desired lighting effect, in addition to having an integrated user interface, which removes the need for a smartphone app to access system functionalities.
One of the most tedious parts of shopping is the cashier queue which adds extraneous delay, especially in high-traffic shopping areas such as grocery stores. The delay stems from the manual effort required to scan each item one by one. While the self-checkout system has reduced waiting times in a queue, the cashier queue still manages to be a bottle neck of shopping delays. The objective of ZoomKart is to reduce shopping queues by creating a bulk checkout counter that eliminates congestion from shopping areas. ZoomKart achieves this by creating a bulk scanner that processes every item in a customer's shopping cart simultaneously. Using concepts of low-power radio frequency and collision-detection algorithms, ZoomKart creates a bill for every item in the customer's shopping cart. The system uses RFID tags to identify each item and a bulk scanner capable of sensing all the tags accurately. This eliminates human intervention in the checkout process and drastically speeds up the wait times associated with the cashier queue.
SmartE Energy Management System
With increasing demand and electricity prices in North America, the average homeowner is seeing a consistent increase in their monthly electricity bill. Smart energy storage systems are slowly being introduced into the market to help homeowners store electricity when it is at a cheaper price and use it during electricity peak pricing periods. The objective of this project is to design a smart energy management system that controls the power in a home and decides when it is best to buy electricity or to power the home through installed batteries to optimize for an overall lower homeowner bill. SmartE is a smart energy management device that is scalable for homes and businesses alike. It interfaces with batteries, alternate and renewable energy sources, electric vehicle chargers, and detects the load of the home and optimizes the use of power in a cost effective manner. SmartE monitors past trends and allows the user to check these historical patterns for forecasting power consumption. The system requires knowledge from databases, embedded systems, and power systems courses. The main advantages of SmartE over existing alternatives is that it is scalable, it coordinates power sharing with neighbours, and it is capable of remotely controlling local power system components.
The world’s urban population has been growing with the increasing world population. In 1950, approximately 30% of the world population resided in the urban areas, which now has increased to 54% with the world population of 7 billion. By 2050, the proportion of the urban population is expected to be 66% with the projected world population of 9.6 billion. In parallel with the increasing urban population, the role of urban planning continues to stand out. The main objective of the project is to design a physical platform with a controllable surface that can change its shape promptly to help with the visualization of various landscapes during urban-planning processes. A second objective is to include simulated effects, such as a relationship between precipitation and a drainage system, by overlaying graphics on the surface. The Geo-Doodle uses a set of elevation data to configure elastic surface using a number of stepper motors. The simulated effects are generated by a projector and require image processing techniques to minimize distortion perceived by the observer. Existing alternatives require significant time for fabrication and have high cost, for each additional landscape. Also, the alternatives are not reusable, are static, and do not utilize simulated effects.
In the modern world, the internet is used for many daily interactions, resulting in data add-ons becoming the standard in a smartphone plan. While coverage in first-world countries is improving, users are often limited by their carrier network’s availability in different regions. The objective of this project is to design an environment where the limitations of network coverage and availability do not dictate when users have access to the internet. In this environment, users are both incentivized and able to anonymously share their mobile data. The system leverages the ability that smartphones have to communicate wirelessly between themselves to form pools or groups of users. Users accumulate credit through sharing mobile data in these pools, and spend credits to use others’ data in areas where they have poor or no internet access. Embedded software design is used to create the software aspect of the system. Wireless communication and computer security is used to allow smartphones to communicate and share data. Present alternatives include asking strangers to share data access, and building more infrastructure to improve coverage. This system has the advantage of being able to support data usage across carriers, without requiring either social interactions or costly investments.
More applications for electric drones (EDs) are developing every year. A significant issue facing EDs today is their limited use due to a poor battery lifespan. Current EDs either die and shutdown on the spot, or carefully time their task(s) to ensure there is sufficient battery life to return to an operator or charging station where the battery is exchanged manually or recharged for several hours. The objective of this project is to significantly increase the number of electric drone applications by building a fully autonomous battery swapping station, eliminating charging time and the need for human intervention. Swap-it functions via a combination of image processing, digital control theory, and precise mechanical systems. A camera detects and tracks the incoming drone, while a microcontroller interfaces with a set of stepper motors to secure a perfect landing in a controlled location. A forklift-style system extracts the drained battery from the drone and stores it for charging. It then retrieves a charged battery from storage and reinserts it, all without powering down the drone. Swap-it’s primary advantage over existing alternatives is its ability to autonomously swap an ED’s battery, eliminating charging time and the need for human intervention.
Music Conducting Training System
Music conductors play a vital role in concerts. The primary duties of the conductor are to set the tempo, ensure correct entries by different members of the ensemble, and to shape the dynamics of the music. To convey this information, a conductor communicates with the musicians primarily through hand motions. Considering a conductor cannot gather the entire orchestra for daily practice, most conductors practice conducting in front of a mirror. However, this type of practice does not benefit from feedback from a real orchestra. The objective of this project is to design a conducting training device that can set the tempo and dynamics of a piece of music according to the conductor’s hand movements. The conducting training device uses several ultrasonic distance sensors to gather position data of the conductor’s hand. This data is then used to decide what movement the conductor is doing and the tempo and dynamics expressed. The project requires the application of signal processing, algorithm design, embedded system design, and control systems. The main advantage of this design over current alternatives is that it can simulate the music conducting environment perfectly while being less expensive.
Internal combustion engines have been a common part of our everyday lives for over a hundred years. With the rising cost of fuel and no viable alternative, improvements must be made to conventional engines to make them more efficient and reduce emissions. Currently, most engines rely on camshaft-controlled engine valve actuation which has some mechanical limitations. The objective of this project is to introduce an electromagnetically-controlled valve actuation system, MAG Valve, to overcome these mechanical limitations. With conventional engine valves the timing profile of open and close operations are limited to the fixed camshaft lobes and there is very little control over the independent actuation of each valves. The MAG Valve aims to overcome these limitations by using electromagnets to independently control the opening and closing operations of each individual engine valve and advanced control electronics to manage valve position. This electromagnetically-actuated valve is controlled by an angle sensor implemented on the crankshaft of the engine to alter the profile of its opening. This in turn allows variations in the amount of fuel and air consumed by the engine to achieve a better combustion percentage, which can potentially lead to 30% additional efficiency of fuel consumption in the future.
Throughout the world, air pollution has become a critical issue due to increasing industrialization and vehicle usage. Air pollution has a direct impact on global health; one in eight total global deaths in 2012 was due to prolonged exposure to poor air quality. The objective of this project is to design a system to make users aware of areas of pollution, thus allowing them to avoid potential health hazards. AirAlert includes a portable sensing device that uses a microcontroller to manage the sensors, communication module, and air intake fan to alert the user of surrounding air quality. Air quality, location, and time data are aggregated and used to predict future trends and pre-emptively warn users of potentially polluted areas. The design of the sensing device requires circuit theory and control theory, the predictions are based on machine learning algorithms, and the architecture of AirAlert uses distributed-systems principles. The main advantage of this design over major alternatives is that it not only alerts users of current local conditions but also predicts and gives pre-emptive warnings.
Hockey is Canada’s sport, and innumerable Canadians spend many long, cold winter nights at the rink honing their skills. One challenge these aspiring legends face is the lack of precise feedback on their form, particularly with nuanced hand movements that take years for professionals to develop. Silky Mitties provides recreational and professional hockey players a tool to improve their stickhandling and shot effectiveness. Silky Mitties provides feedback through acceleration, gyroscopic, and pressure sensing on the player’s gloves. Players can view their data and receive feedback through an application on their mobile device. The system involves Bluetooth networking to relay the information to their device. The mobile device saves user shot data and compares it to a preloaded dataset collected from varsity hockey players to provide corrective feedback. No other system analyzes valuable sensor information that can be obtained from a player’s gloves. There does exist a plug-in for a composite stick that collects the stick’s sensor data. Silky Mitties’ advantage is the incorporation of a lightweight solution attached to the player’s gloves to determine how to adjust their grip or motion, as opposed to just collecting and displaying raw swing data, all the while still providing a game-like feel of motion.
Voice: Device to Enable Real-time Sign Language to Speech Translation
There are 375,000 culturally deaf people in Canada, and in-person communication barriers between the native sign language speakers and the general population still remain high. Many people do not understand sign language, and communicating through a text medium is arduous and impersonal. The goal of this project is to design a device to translate sign language to speech in real-time, allowing the deaf or mute to communicate naturally even with those who do not know sign language. Voice uses custom-made ergonomic gloves equipped with various sensors and an onboard microcontroller to track and stream data on a user’s hand positions and motions to a Bluetooth-connected mobile application. The application connects to a set of pre-trained machine learning models to predict the given sign and speak it aloud, mimicking true speech. The system can match tens of American Sign Language signs, in addition to signs for the Japanese manual syllabary. Voice is portable and unobtrusive compared to current computer vision variants—requiring the minimum of hardware—giving users a voice that they never had.
Studies have shown that 6 out of 10 people do not get a proper night’s sleep. This feeling of fatigue can be attributed to waking up in an improper sleep cycle and to various disturbances present in one’s sleeping environment. NiteBand is designed to improve the user’s sleep by monitoring their rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle and setting an alarm accordingly within a predefined time range. This optimal time is computed by analyzing the amount of time the user spends in the REM sleep cycle. NiteBand accomplishes this by using electrodes installed in a headband to sense electric fields generated from movement of the eye. This data is then sent wirelessly to a paired smartphone to perform the analysis. Upper-year knowledge that is used includes electromagnetics, signal processing, and wireless digital signal transmission. The advantage of NiteBand over most existing technologies is that it uses electrodes instead of accelerometers for better signal detection. It is also specialized to strictly monitor REM sleep states rather than complete mental states, which allows for a simpler and more accurate model.
Curling is a rapidly growing sport in Canada, both in participation and in viewership. Curling viewership can exceed hockey viewership in Canada. This results in stiff competition, with many teams looking for a competitive edge. Curling requires immense precision and very fine control over the trajectory of a rock to be successful. Teams are interested in learning exactly how velocity, acceleration, direction of rotation, and rate of rotation affect the trajectory of a rock in order to maximize their control. A single person cannot evaluate and account for all of these variables precisely, but computers can. Curlware uses infrared lights on the handle of a rock and infrared cameras to track the velocity, acceleration, direction of rotation, and rate of rotation of a rock. This data is stored, aggregated, and compared to future shots to predict the trajectory they will follow. Curlware can send instructions to curlers if the rock is not following the desired trajectory. Curlware also allows curlers to learn how to use sweeping more effectively (by showing them the results while they are still sweeping) and to learn from their mistakes (by showing them the change in trajectory resulting from their calls).
SafürBike: A Safer Bicycle Navigation System
Over the past 6 years, the number of protected bike lanes available in the U.S. has approximately quadrupled, increasing the number of cyclists on the streets today. However, the lack of safety features found in modern-day bicycles creates an unsafe biking experience for many cyclists. The objective of this project is design a device that provides the cyclist with a safety system for bicycle navigation. The solution consists of two haptic feedback modules that attach to the handlebars on the bike to provide navigation information from a smartphone application. In addition, the system provides blind spot detection through an array of sensors that latch onto the seat-post. The implementation of blind-spot detection requires knowledge of analog-to-digital conversion and digital signal processing concepts such as infinite-impulse response filters. Additionally, the communication between the sensors and the smartphone requires knowledge of wireless protocols. Existing alternatives use visual indicators to support navigation, which is not only an insufficient feedback mechanism, but is also distracting. Additionally, they have an incomplete set of safety features. SafürBike provides additional safety features, and supports navigation using both visual indicators as well as haptic feedback in the form of vibrations.
Semaphore: Notifications for Physical Mail
Semaphore flags are used to convey messages at a distance using visual signals. In the case of a mailbox, a semaphore flag is the flag that indicates to a homeowner that mail has been received. While email and instant messaging have become more popular methods of sending messages, physical mail still plays an important part in communication. Unfortunately, physical mail still lacks many of the benefits of email, such as notifying recipients that mail has arrived. As a result, time must be taken to check the mailbox to see if anything has arrived, and important deliveries can be missed. Semaphore aims to eliminate this problem by scanning the contents of the mailbox and notifying the recipient when mail arrives, along with the type of mail received. Instead of waiting for your mail, your mailbox lets you know when it arrives. Semaphore aims to save the time and energy of users by notifying users when they need to get their mail, and allowing them to be more productive and worry-free. The project utilizes embedded software to control the sensors that detect when mail is received, along with image processing and real-time analysis to identify the type and quantity of mail.
LaunchCam: High-Altitude Imaging
Drones have become the product of choice for obtaining high-altitude aerial photography for both recreational and surveillance use. The capture of high-quality images requires the use of drones with complex maneuverability, precision controls, and high-end cameras which can be rather expensive. In contrast, cheaper alternatives are very limited in their capabilities and hence are undesirable in certain instances. The objective of this project is to provide an affordable alternative for drones that is capable of taking pictures from a high elevation. To accomplish this, the LaunchCam capsule that contains the camera is propelled to high elevations using a custom launcher and is allowed to descend using a parachute, allowing the camera to take clear images. This project required knowledge of embedded systems to design a printed circuit board with an altimeter and a Bluetooth module for altitude calculations and wireless communication. LaunchCam provides a cost-effective solution for obtaining images of similar quality to those taken by higher priced drones, yet it is more robust than cheaper, lower quality alternatives.
eyePen: Pixel Perfect Pen Stylus
Most personal computers do not come with high-precision pen input. Even when computers have a touchscreen, fingers are not precise enough for drawing and note-taking activities without a stylus. The goal of this project is to develop a stylus and the related software infrastructure to enable convenient high-precision pen input on these devices, and drastically enhance note-taking/drawing experiences. The eyePen is designed with a camera at its tip, reading encoded data from the pixels of the screen, which can then be used to precisely determine its location on the screen. The eyePen uses advanced algorithms to encode an appropriate De Bruijn sequence into arbitrary images on the computer display. After sensing this encoded sequence with the camera, the position of the stylus is deduced from the captured image via image recognition and digital signal processing. The main advantage of the eyePen over its competitors is that it offers high-precision touchscreen capabilities via a stylus without having to make any modifications to the display, in addition to being significantly cheaper.
Bright lights such as sun glare in the daytime and headlights at night cause nearly 3000 accidents a year in the United Kingdom alone. Becoming blinded by bright lights is dangerous for drivers in both the daytime and nighttime. Hence, an adaptive system that can intelligently detect and reduce the strong lights obstructing the driver’s sight is essential to traffic safety. The objective of the IntelliTint project is to utilize existing transparent Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology to apply dynamic tinting to the windshield of vehicles. A camera is used to detect sources of bright light which can then be dimmed from the driver’s perspective in real time in order to enhance the driving experience. Image processing is performed on the video input to determine the level of tinting required on each section of the windshield to minimize light glare. IntelliTint overcomes the shortcomings of existing solutions like sun visors and standard tinted glass in that it automatically adapts to lighting conditions and does not obstruct the driver’s vision.
Approximately 90% of traders lose money on their trading accounts due to their limited knowledge of risk exposure and money management; investors, on the other hand, have higher tolerance for volatile markets with larger trading timeframes and lower financial leverage. Traders are usually unaware of their overall portfolio risk exposure, and they have a hard time managing trades with multiple accounts across different brokers and journaling their trades. This project, called EZTradr, aims to solve this administrative issue by giving traders a way to centralize all their trading accounts and effectively manage their risk exposure based on their risk profile. EZTradr is a cloud platform, providing traders with an application easily accessed through any internet-enabled device to monitor portfolios. EZTradr is a trade management and journaling application, using knowledge learned from database management, computer networking, and statistics. Using this design solution supplies traders with a web-based platform that monitors overall portfolio asset positions, identifies potential overextended exposure, and delivers hedging advice based on real-time data. By using EZTradr, traders are able to fully monitor their overall portfolio risk exposures.
Communication management is increasingly fundamental in society. The ability to effectively capture and recall communicated information economizes time and increases productivity in manifold home and business scenarios: journalism, classrooms, police work, operating rooms, courtrooms, logistics management, thought management, and discourse of any kind. This project offers a user-integrated, wearable solution for reliable and long-duration passive speech detection, transcription, organization, and readily accessible recall. The power-efficient hardware passively records audio and transmits it via bluetooth to mobile. Audio data uploads to the cloud and is processed, indexed, and transcribed into text. The text data is then stored in relational databases, whereby a distributed cluster of search servers enable user retrieval from web and mobile platforms. Concepts from analog, power and microwave electronics, embedded systems, speech processing, and communications theory are leveraged to implement the hardware system; while distributed and cloud computing theory, along with algorithmic concepts, are employed for storage, processing and retrieval of the communication data. Existing alternatives neither passively record audio nor transcribe speech into text; they require the press of a button, and can only record audio for a short duration. Chirp Wear holds a distinct advantage over its competitors by integrating passive recording and speech-to-text transcription functionalities.
With over than 65 million Google Maps users in the United States alone, mapping applications have become incorporated into our everyday lives. The problem is that these map applications only deal with real-time traffic, and as a driver arrives at a certain point during their travels, the map application must continually update their path and time based on real-time traffic. The objective of this project is to create an application that utilizes a predictive pathing method to discover the fastest path from a starting point to a destination point.
ARC Hat: Accident Recording Construction Hat
Between 1997 and 2011 in Ontario there were approximately 91 fatalities in the construction industry related to workers being struck by moving materials or equipment. The mining and manufacturing industries have similar numbers. The Accident Recording Construction Hat (ARC Hat) provides an enhancement to the average hardhat because over time it prevents and reports accidents due to falls and being struck on the head. ARC Hat is a smart construction hardhat that utilizes a combination of sensors for data collection of the user’s surrounding environment. The data is analyzed using signal processing algorithms, and a warning alarm initiates if a user has an accident. In the unfortunate the case of an accident, ARC Hat informs upper management immediately and acts as a black box for incident investigation. The design of the system incorporates concepts from signal processing, embedded system computing principles, and power converter circuitry. ARC Hat is advantageous over existing alternatives because other systems rely heavily on human reaction time. ARC Hat follows the principle of improving safety over time and empowering safety officials, managers, and executives with the collected data. The data allows them to make improvements and develop protocols so accidents do not happen again.
Last year, 72% of American adults claimed to have read a book whether in whole or in part and in any format. This percentage has dropped by around 7% since the survey was taken 5 years ago. To increase the number of readers, reading should be entertaining and engaging. Athenaeum is an immersive platform with a focus in engaging readers with their books through music and audio. The platform brings a book to life by adding ambient music to eBooks that fits the mood of the story being told. The mood and context of the stories and songs are inferred using natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and machine learning. With the use of these technologies, this novel idea sets the tone for the tale by automatically playing a custom soundtrack, offering a delightful reading experience for both casual readers and bookworms alike.
With the electric vehicle market’s rapid growth over the past years and forecasts speculating a 35% representation of total vehicle sales in 2040, it is beneficial to think and plan for the future. In a few decades when electric vehicles become the norm, large companies will be required to provide workplace charging to boost their public image and employee satisfaction while furthering their sustainability practices. With every employee plugging in their vehicles upon arrival, the energy demand could surpass the company’s kW-hour limit. On top of that, the electrical grid would experience much larger peaks. The objective of this project is to design a distributed system to coordinate the usage of electric vehicle chargers in order to lower the company’s peak demand while charging at optimal times according to hourly energy prices. SmartCharger’s database retrieves and analyzes energy prices, and it obtains the charging status of each vehicle and user travel range, to optimally charge vehicles in order to minimize cost while ensuring user satisfaction. Wall adapters with microcontrollers send back metering information and power consumption of the car chargers.
Thousands of chair-related accidents occur every year in restaurants, classrooms, and offices due to messy and unorganized environments. The objective of this project is to develop an intelligent chair capable of reorienting and repositioning itself to have the chair return to its original location. Also, the chair is able to gather information such as date and duration of use. The Smart Chair uses an external camera to obtain information of the environment. It then uses image processing to determine if the chair is in use and then starts recording data which is stored in a remote database. Image processing is used to determine the chair’s position and orientation, and control theory and path finding algorithms are used to return the chair to the origin. The entire system is connected using Bluetooth communication between the Raspberry Pi 3 on the table and a custom printed circuit board on the chair, which is made using integrated circuit design concepts. The main advantages of this design over major alternatives are the ability to track additional data for statistical analysis as well as provide a safe and organized environment with no additional effort.
Digital communication from text, to voice, to video, increasingly provides a more realistic communication experience; however, existing forms of digital communication still lack various aspects of talking to someone face-to-face such as the ability for interaction. The objective of HelloVR is to provide an immersive virtual communication platform to help create a more personal connection between people. Using data from various input devices such as finger, head, facial and body movement tracking, and applying this to virtual humanoid avatars, a person’s subtle movements can be recreated and observed by another party through the use of a virtual reality (VR) headset. A game engine is leveraged for its built-in rendering, simulation, and networking capabilities, while the processing of inputs such as facial movements is accomplished by using a plugin to the game engine. The main advantage HelloVR has over alternatives is that it provides real-time facial and body tracking mirroring to the virtual world allowing for complex interaction between people. Additional benefits include decreased bandwidth usage, as only voice and positional information is transferred between clients (as opposed to a video feed); additionally, the use of avatars allows for anonymity.
Open-concept workspaces similar to customer service and emergency dispatch centres are becoming more widely adopted to promote interaction and eliminate physical isolation among coworkers. However, in doing so they create much more ambient noise pollution, reducing the quality of conversations leading to negative impacts on health and productivity. To mitigate this issue, CommBlocker attenuates the audible volume of at the source of the noise pollution. CommBlocker utilises an arrangement of microphones and speakers, coupled with signal processing and feedback systems. Noise cancellation headphones allow for a great listening experience, but there remains ambient noise. CommBlocker reduces the noise heard by the user and the caller to provide a high-quality listening and speaking experience in congested environments.
The Virtual Reality (VR) industry is growing at a fast pace. With the number of active users forecast to reach 171 million by 2018, a large population will have direct access to VR products. There is 3D modeling software currently available in the market; however, this software does not take full advantage of the intuitiveness of the immersive VR space. The objective of this project is to create an application that allows users to conduct 3D modeling seamlessly and intuitively within a virtual reality space. While wearing a VR Headset, users are able to turn their heads to have a 360-degree view within the virtual space. Users use controllers and headsets to move around in the space and to create, customize, and manipulate 3D models such as rotating, resizing and stretching, tracing, and combining multiple created objects. The application is implemented using HTC Vive and the virtual reality space is created using the Unity game engine. The application utilizes complex algebraic, geometric, and vector computations coupled with algorithms to maximise efficiency and graphics performance to allow users to create models as they are interact with virtual reality.
A study conducted in 2013 shows that 9 in 10 iPhone owners and 2 in 3 Android phone owners use a protective phone case. The owners cited the case’s design and aesthetics as the most important reason for owning a phone case, after protection. Using an Android tablet as a proof of concept, the goal of this project is to design a phone case that is ahead of its time and a pioneer in phone case fashion trends. mInk Box is a smart phone case that allows users to customize the design of their phone cases on the fly with any desired image. Through a user-friendly Android application, users can upload and display any image to the built-in Eink panel located at the back of the phone case wirelessly via Bluetooth and an embedded microcontroller. The case also contains a built-in lightweight rechargeable battery system for on-the-go charging. The project requires knowledge of embedded systems, computer networking, power management, and software design and architecture. The main advantage of this design over current alternatives is its relatively cheaper cost, aesthetic design, and user-friendly approach to customizing the phone case on the go.
EzPark: Parking Made Easy
Whether it be at a busy shopping mall, a school, or a stadium, the average motorist’s search for parking space is often a frustrating experience inundated with problems such as long waiting times and crowded space. The objective of this project is thus to design a system that allows motorists to navigate and find an available parking space with ease. EzPark is an intelligent platform that provides users with available parking spaces and navigational information at their chosen destination. Cameras overlooking the parking lot space feed real-time information to an Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform for analysis. The IoT platform is thus able to identify whether a space is occupied by a vehicle or not. The system includes an application program interface to query the information regarding the state of the parking lot. The design of such a system involves knowledge of machine learning, adaptive algorithms, and web architecture. Unlike other similar platforms, EzPark offers the ability to monitor the status of a parking lot in real time. This allows the user to check for spots between multiple parking lots in the area and head to a parking lot with an empty space which is closest to their destination or a parking lot with mostly empty spaces to guarantee a spot.
Countless people perform weightlifting exercises at the gym every day. When performing the bench press, many struggle with the last few repetitions and fail to complete their set properly. In the last year alone, over 4,000 people were injured because they were performing bench presses without a spotter. As a result, gym goers rely on spotters for assistance in order to increase strength gains, and many avoid doing bench presses without having a spotter present. The objective of this project is to design a device that can be installed onto regular bench press equipment and perform the duties of a spotter. The design consists of two horizontal beams that follow the bar’s motion and lift a portion of the weight. These beams are attached to a structure intended to be placed behind the bench press equipment. Sensors on the beams detect when the user is struggling with the weight, and utilize control theory and embedded software to determine the appropriate amount of upwards force needed. The main advantages of this design over existing alternatives are its ability to be installed on regular exercise equipment, which means reduced cost for gyms, and its automatic triggering mechanism.
In the United States, about 39 million people attend nightclubs every year, producing about 26 billion dollars in revenue. Unfortunately, despite the size of this market, a dedicated system that allows the exchange of information between nightclubs and their users does not currently exist. Thus, the goal of this project is to create a system that solves this deficiency. More specifically, the project involves demographic data collection by the venues, as well as analysis on this data to produce metrics useful to improve business processes. In addition, the users benefit from the data analytics to help them decide how to spend their nights. The system consists of an identification scanner that connects with a cloud server used for data storage and computation of relevant analytics. The system also includes a web dashboard that provides the processed analytics to the clubs. Lastly, a mobile app is the gateway for users to nightclub metrics. The main benefit of this system over existing alternatives is that the analytical data is easily accessible.
AIM: The Automated Icing Machine
Decorating a cake with icing is a tedious task. It requires concentration, precision, and focus. After surveying three grocery stores that sell cakes, all of them reported on having a generic list of cake designs for users to choose from, for ease of decoration. The cake decorators surveyed mentioned that the process was a strain on their hands and fingers. The objective of this project is to create a machine that decorates cakes based on user input. AIM provides users with the ability to specify their own cake designs, rather than choosing from the generic list of designs that current grocery stores provide. AIM is a machine that ices the cake once a user sends their design wirelessly via a mobile application. The mobile application allows users to queue design requests to a server, which processes the images sent in each request, and controls a machine arm to ice a cake accordingly. The advantage of this design is that AIM allows for complete design freedom, while also automating the icing process of current designs. It also allows for an ergonomic solution to icing cakes, and is a better alternative than the current approach that includes the possibility of human error.