MOUSE Corps Legacy Projects win at the Emoti-Con Festival!

Big congrats to the Dining Band Legacy Project team for winning the top prize at this year’s Emoti-Con Festival!

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MOUSE, a national nonprofit organization that empowers and inspires underserved youth, is pleased to announce its students being recognized for their innovative projects at the 4th Annual Emoti-Con! 2012 Digital Media and Technology Challenge! Emoti-Con! brings together middle and high school students from across New York City to share their passions in technology, present their digital creations, and network with peers and industry professionals.

“Emoti-Con! is an extremely unique opportunity to showcase the work of a new generation of innovators and thinkers, who are passionate about sharing their perspectives and making a positive change in the world through digital media and technology,” said Marc Lesser, Education Director, MOUSE.

More than 150 students presented their technology projects at Emoti-Con! 2012, through their involvement with other NYC-based nonprofit organizations including DreamYard, The Museum for African Art, The Parsons Scholars Program, Girls Write Now, Global Kids, WNYC Radio Rookies, MOUSE, New York Public Library, and Institute of Play.

Sixty students and educators attended from MOUSE, presenting a wide range of technology and digital media projects involving 3D printing and design, anti-bullying games and videos, and technology to assist the visually impaired or those with special needs.

Youth projects were judged in the following categories: Best Pitch, Most Innovative, Most Potential for Social Impact, Most Entertaining and Favorite Project. Students from MOUSE were honored to be recognized with three of these five awards. Judged by their peers, the Emoti-Con! 2012 winning projects were:

  • Best Pitch and Favorite Project: The Dining Band, designed and developed by MOUSE high school students, this project provides a location and temperature sensor wrist band to assist the blind or visually impaired while eating
  • Most Innovative: T.A.P. Project, created by the P256Q MOUSE Squad, includes a series of assistive technology inventions that offer easy solutions to everyday tasks involving fine motor skills
  • Most Potential for Social Impact: A multimedia documentary about “stop and frisk” produced by a high school student through his participation in WNYC Radio Rookies
  • Most Entertaining: A space-themed video game built on Scratch and Arduino, designed and programmed by a 6th grader during an after school program with Institute of Play

Emoti-Con! is designed, organized and led by youth that are guided by a steering committee of educators and youth professionals from Global Kids, MOUSE, New York Public Library and Parsons The New School for Design. These organizations, as well as those that brought youth to present projects, are all members of Hive Learning Network NYC, a network of 39 nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating new digital learning opportunities for youth.

“Emoti-Con! illustrates what’s possible when organizations and youth from across the city come together to celebrate their passion for creating, building, making and learning using digital media and technology,” said Chris Lawrence, Director of Hive Learning Network NYC. “The entire process – from developing their projects to meeting with successful media and technology professionals – offers youth a transformative learning and entrepreneurial experience and reveals real pathways towards college and career readiness.”

MOUSE empowers underserved youth to learn, lead and create with technology, preparing them with skills essential for their academic and career success. Founded in New York City in 1997, MOUSE is a dynamic nonprofit organization having a positive and lasting impact on students in more than 350 locations in the United States, including in New York, California, Chicago and Texas, as well as a global presence in more than 50 countries. To learn more about MOUSE, visit

About Hive Learning Network
NYC: Hive Learning Network NYC is a Mozilla project that was founded through The MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media & Learning initiative to fuel collaborations between cultural organizations and create new learning pathways and innovative education practices together. Hive NYC is comprised of thirty-nine nonprofit organizations—museums, libraries, media and other youth-facing organizations—that create opportunities for youth to explore their intellectual and skill-based interests using digital media and other technologies. Network members have access to funding to support this work through The Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust. For more information please visit Also visit ¬or Twitter @EmotiCon_NYC.


Prototyping the SmartChair

If you guys want to check out more of the pictures we have of the development of the SmartChair feel free to check them out at There are tons of pictures from the hardware to the field tests.


Today we are currently making adjustments to the way the wires are placed on the SmartChair and I am working on fixing up the code, I want to be able to have the SmartChair say a command but prevent the command from being constantly repeated, if we have time today hopefully we will also re-record the audio files to sound more natural and friendlier.

Prototyping the SmartChair

We didn’t know what the problem was before Joe arrived, we couldn’t get the wave shield to access the SD card, but when Joe told us that we didn’t read the instructions correctly, it was a very upsetting roadblock. We forgot to solder four wires, now that it works we came across another problem with some files not playing, which was quickly fixed by shortening the file names of the files. Another problem that arose was a software error, the code had an extra portion of the code that told the wave shield to skip a file, that was quickly fixed by removing about 3 lines of code. We are also going to instead of soldering the wires onto the circuit we are going to add female headers just in case we want to rearrange the wires at a later time. For the LV-MaxSonar- EZ1, we want to give multiple warnings so when the sensor outputs around 210 it will give the first warning and when it outputs 160 it will give a second warning. We also tested the Prototype outside, the sensors worked outside, people parted their way for the person on the wheelchair, which made testing the sensors so much easier. Our prototype is starting to come together however we still have the data values correct because we don’t want the same sound reiterating constantly

Here’s our code for the project, including all drafts and test Arduino sketches! Don’t forget that you need to install the WaveHC library from Adafruit before you try to run this code.

Awesome job today!!

The Problem that Arose Today (SmartChair)

We wanted to test the wave shield with a new SD card, but the code wouldn’t flash properly on the arduino. We tried everything from correcting the code to downloading the scripts from the official wave shield website. Hopefully our tech mentor will save the day!

Here is the errors that arose prior to flashing:

_smartChair_02.cpp:1:23: error: FatReader.h: No such file or directory
_smartChair_02.cpp:2:22: error: SdReader.h: No such file or directory
_smartChair_02.cpp:4:22: error: WaveUtil.h: No such file or directory
_smartChair_02.cpp:5:20: error: WaveHC.h: No such file or directory
_smartChair_02:6: error: ‘SdReader’ does not name a type
_smartChair_02:7: error: ‘FatVolume’ does not name a type
_smartChair_02:8: error: ‘FatReader’ does not name a type
_smartChair_02:9: error: ‘FatReader’ does not name a type
_smartChair_02:11: error: ‘WaveHC’ does not name a type
_smartChair_02.cpp: In function ‘void sdErrorCheck()’:
_smartChair_02:42: error: ‘card’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:43: error: ‘putstring’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:44: error: ‘card’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02.cpp: In function ‘void setup()’:
_smartChair_02:55: error: ‘putstring_nl’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:59: error: ‘putstring’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:78: error: ‘card’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:85: error: ‘card’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:90: error: ‘vol’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:103: error: ‘vol’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:106: error: ‘root’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02.cpp: In function ‘void playcomplete(char*)’:
_smartChair_02:247: error: ‘wave’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02.cpp: In function ‘void playfile(char*)’:
_smartChair_02:255: error: ‘wave’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:259: error: ‘f’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:259: error: ‘root’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:260: error: ‘putstring’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:265: error: ‘wave’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:265: error: ‘f’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:266: error: ‘putstring_nl’ was not declared in this scope
_smartChair_02:271: error: ‘wave’ was not declared in this scope

Our Goals for the SmartChair

User Exp
Approaching moving or stationery objects but doesn’t say if its moving because it doesn’t matter
Warns user to prevent from going out into the street
Warns distance of the curb from the current location of the User
Tells the distance of the building from the User
Wheel-alignment sensor
User input(a button that will potentially tell the User which direction they are going)

Side Goals:
Tells the user which side the curb would be
Tell the user how long they have before they hit the object or curb

We also finished the code and recordings for the user portion of the project, we ran into a little trouble with the circuit working, we think it could be because we used a SDHC card instead of a SD card, tomorrow we are going to test it with a regular SD card, if it is the circuit itself, Joe will be our savior and make a second working circuit!

Here is the code that Joe worked on

#include “WaveUtil.h”
#include “WaveHC.h”

SdReader card; // This object holds the information for the card
FatVolume vol; // This holds the information for the partition on the card
FatReader root; // This holds the information for the filesystem on the card
FatReader f; // This holds the information for the file we’re play

WaveHC wave; // This is the only wave (audio) object, since we will only play one at a time

#define DEBOUNCE 5 // button debouncer

// here is where we define the buttons that we’ll use. button “1” is the first, button “6” is the 6th, etc
byte buttons[] = {
// This handy macro lets us determine how big the array up above is, by checking the size
#define NUMBUTTONS sizeof(buttons)
// we will track if a button is just pressed, just released, or ‘pressed’ (the current state
volatile byte pressed[NUMBUTTONS], justpressed[NUMBUTTONS], justreleased[NUMBUTTONS];

int currTrack = 0;

// this handy function will return the number of bytes currently free in RAM, great for debugging!
int freeRam(void)
extern int __bss_end;
extern int *__brkval;
int free_memory;
if((int)__brkval == 0) {
free_memory = ((int)&free_memory) – ((int)&__bss_end);
else {
free_memory = ((int)&free_memory) – ((int)__brkval);
return free_memory;

void sdErrorCheck(void)
if (!card.errorCode()) return;
putstring(“\n\rSD I/O error: “);
Serial.print(card.errorCode(), HEX);
putstring(“, “);
Serial.println(card.errorData(), HEX);

void setup() {
byte i;

// set up serial port
putstring_nl(“WaveHC with “);
Serial.print(NUMBUTTONS, DEC);

putstring(“Free RAM: “); // This can help with debugging, running out of RAM is bad
Serial.println(freeRam()); // if this is under 150 bytes it may spell trouble!

// Set the output pins for the DAC control. This pins are defined in the library
pinMode(2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(3, OUTPUT);
pinMode(4, OUTPUT);
pinMode(5, OUTPUT);

// pin13 LED
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);

// Make input & enable pull-up resistors on switch pins
for (i=0; i< NUMBUTTONS; i++) {
pinMode(buttons[i], INPUT);
digitalWrite(buttons[i], HIGH);

// if (!card.init(true)) { //play with 4 MHz spi if 8MHz isn't working for you
if (!card.init()) { //play with 8 MHz spi (default faster!)
putstring_nl("Card init. failed!"); // Something went wrong, lets print out why
while(1); // then 'halt' – do nothing!

// enable optimize read – some cards may timeout. Disable if you're having problems

// Now we will look for a FAT partition!
uint8_t part;
for (part = 0; part < 5; part++) { // we have up to 5 slots to look in
if (vol.init(card, part))
break; // we found one, lets bail
if (part == 5) { // if we ended up not finding one :(
putstring_nl("No valid FAT partition!");
sdErrorCheck(); // Something went wrong, lets print out why
while(1); // then 'halt' – do nothing!

// Lets tell the user about what we found
putstring("Using partition ");
Serial.print(part, DEC);
putstring(", type is FAT");
Serial.println(vol.fatType(),DEC); // FAT16 or FAT32?

// Try to open the root directory
if (!root.openRoot(vol)) {
putstring_nl("Can't open root dir!"); // Something went wrong,
while(1); // then 'halt' – do nothing!

// Whew! We got past the tough parts.

TCCR2A = 0;
TCCR2B = 1<<CS22 | 1<<CS21 | 1<<CS20;

//Timer2 Overflow Interrupt Enable
TIMSK2 |= 1<<TOIE2;



void check_switches()
static byte previousstate[NUMBUTTONS];
static byte currentstate[NUMBUTTONS];
byte index;

for (index = 0; index 10){
currTrack = 0;

// Plays a full file from beginning to end with no pause.
void playcomplete(char *name) {
// call our helper to find and play this name
while (wave.isplaying) {
// do nothing while its playing
// now its done playing

void playfile(char *name) {
// see if the wave object is currently doing something
if (wave.isplaying) {// already playing something, so stop it!
wave.stop(); // stop it
// look in the root directory and open the file
if (!, name)) {
putstring(“Couldn’t open file “);
// OK read the file and turn it into a wave object
if (!wave.create(f)) {
putstring_nl(“Not a valid WAV”);

// ok time to play! start playback;

Our First Tech Mentor Meeting(Smart Chair)

We are discussing how we would want the SmartChair to function. We are comparing different types of sensors for each task we want our prototype to accomplish. We are dividing the functionalities of the chair in inputs and outputs. The questions that arrise is “What types of input is needed?” “How will we output this data?” “What data will the User need?”. Our tech mentor, Joe Saavedra, explained to us the input/ sensors that we will be most likely be using:
Infra Red Sensor
Magnetometer(aka Compass)
Sonar Sensor(Ultra Sonic)
The output would be through audio communications, as well as tactile vibrations to aid in the user’s communication with the SmartChair
Our team is hopefully going to start tinkering with our prototype by the next tech meeting which will be on Monday April 9 at 2PM

Today we met at MOUSE after the …

Today, we met at MOUSE after the “Dans le Noir” trip and worked on our projects. Our prototype consisted of a physical project that consists of a plastic chair. This simple design is the base of how we plan our finished product to look. Originally we planned to have our product to be a full wheelchair with the circuits built into it, but then we realize it would be too expensive for the average consumer. We then decided to change it to an attachement to the wheelchair, so we could cut out the production cost. Our new design are cameras, sonar sensors, and GPS connected to a battery working with each other.