Gamified trash cans to motivate people to recycle        Solo project by Yinghua        Built with Three.js, Blender, and Arduino

" A special thanks to Or Fleisher for helping me debug problems with Three.js, Wenqi Li for helping me remove solder and offering extra materials, Daniel Sebastian Castaño for acting in the video, and Dan Shiffman, Jeff Feddersen, Shawn Van Every, Mimi Yin, Dan Rizzo, and Tom Igoe for giving feedback and guidance on reading serial port data. "



Most people monitor their daily gain, but few monitor their daily "dump" - a contributor to global warming. Although recognizing the importance of recycling, many people slack, not feeling their individual impact.




A smart trashcan that monitors your daily disposal and visualizes your impact as a polar bear rescue game:

  • Trashcan weight increases trigger: sea level rise + increased wave speed + the polar bear makes crying sounds
  • Recycling bin weight increases trigger: sea level decrease + cheering sound + thank you and audio reminder

Research & PROTOTYPE


The project contains three major parts: sensors, micro-controllers, and web animation. Sensors listens to the physical world (users' daily disposal). Micro-controllers listen to sensors and talk to web animations. Web animations influence user behavior.

" The most challenging part was to research and find out how to build each desired aspect. "



The research started by searching how to build a scale. A Google sheet was used to record useful details. From that, a shopping list of necessary components was created.



The initial plan was to place a scale at the bottom of each bin and to install a display between the open tops. Components to build the scale include: a bar load cell, a HX711 amplifier, an Arduino, jumper wires, and two wooden boards. To host the 3D web animation on the display, a computer or a Raspberry pi is needed.


Paper Prototype


A few people were invited to interact with and give feedback on a paper prototype. People raised concerns about the location of the display, since any place near the top is likely to get dirty.


Reduce the Cost

" The cost of building a scale using a bar load cell + an amplifier + an Arduino is surprisingly high. I ended up hacking 2 bathroom scales to get 8 disk load cells, which reduced the cost significantly. I also found an open-source board called Openscale that packs an Arduino, an amplifier, and a combinator into one board but costs significantly less than buying them individually. For displaying the animation, I decided to use a projector first, to improve demonstrations. "



Two mock-up scales were made from used shipping cardboards.

" Throughout the process, I tried to reuse materials to generate less waste. "

Final Production


For the final production, I used two acrylic sheets that I custom laser cut.



more projects by Yinghua