Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The User Experience

So I have shown through all the previous posts how the mechanics of Halloween work. There are many devices all working together and logically controlled by code through a small micro-controller. This controller is then connected to the internet and given commands through that connection. The end game is to have the user control everything from a simple, intuitive phone app.

This gets a little technical, but for those interested, here is how the commands work: The controller acts like a server on a local network (think of a shared printer you can access from the network). It listens for web commands using whats called HTTP. Really, all this means is that I can go to its address in a web browser and include commands in the URL itself. For example) if the controller has an IP address of, and I have a command set up called "prop1" that needs a time parameter. The command would look like this '' That will set off Prop number 1 for 5000 milliseconds.

Now we have a way to command the props through the internet! However, we don't want to have to type in commands for everything we want to set off. We need a simple interface for this. Luckily, Android has a very easy to use (if you know Java) process for creating your own App! So now it just comes down to designing the App and connecting the buttons to these web commands. The phone is even smart enough to receive a message back from the controller (like current PSI of the compressor) and show it on the screen. A lot of learning and code later we get this, App-O-Ween

Ready to control all the Halloween fun! There is even more we are doing, but I will leave that for next time.

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