I spoken before about my love with the arduino electronics platform. Let me share a bit more, about another project I’m working through, and one which I’ll be speaking on at the Cambridge Quantified Self group. (Or have already spoken on, given when you are reading this. If you are reading it after the event, I am hoping I’ve also written up what happened at the meeting. But I’m not going to continue this thought, as it might get a bit disjointed…)

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

If you know me, you are probably aware I am not a big fan of crowds. (And by extension cities. Country boy still, me.) If for some reason I need to be in town, I’ll do it early. Cambridge on a Saturday is great before 1pm, as no one seems to be up before then, and I can get in and out. After that, well, years of martial arts training comes in very handy. Of course, if you don’t want to end up breaking jaws and ribs, you can always sit in the Central Library, it is usually peaceful there.

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

But I got to thinking…what if I had a list of places to seek out, boltholes, sanctuaries, places I could sit, think, read while Κασσάνδρα bought handbags. Then I got to thinking more, what if this happened automagically, and something alerted me that it would be a good idea if I headed to The Urban Shed for another cup of coffee? Then I got to thinking, someone must have done this, and charge for it. Then I got to thinking, sure isn’t that a grand wee project, why don’t I tackle it myself?

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin’ strong,
You don’t wanna save me, sad is my song

So I did.

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way, yeh, yeh

(Cheap) heartrate/pulse sensor connected to a (cheap) bluetooth transmitter that talks to a (maybe cheap) android phone (simulator, as I don’t have one, cheap or otherwise) that monitors heart rate that triggers a call to a (cheaply hosted) web service that sends back directions to the nearest (cheap) place that will provide a calming environment.

Very superstitious, nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil’s on his way,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

And it all works. I dumped some local places in my database, gritted my teeth to write some java (nnnnn) for an android app, knocked up a web API and pieced it all together. If multiple people are using my system, it won’t send you to an overly occupied place, rather the next one after that. It is kinda time sensitive, and gives different routes depending on time of day. I intend to add some (nnnn) learning to it, so it can predict early, rather than wait for the sensor to react. I’m also surface mounting it, and sew it into my glorious full-length tweed jacket. Hey, I’m all about the wearables! I must surely be on the cutting edge of something. Even at my age, one step ahead of The Kids. (Which is sort-of the point, all those The Kids hanging around in town in clouds of short-attention-spanned opinions drive my blood pressure up. Nah, just kidding, it isn’t them per se, more just EVERY DAMNED PERSON IN CAMBRIDGE GOING INTO TOWN AT 3pm ON A SATURDAY.)

Very superstitious, nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious, the devil’s on his way,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

OK, so all so very trivial, but you know, it could be made into an actual real device, extend the API so it does lots more (I do have many, many ideas) and it might be a useful system for really anxious people. Hey, maybe I should (nnnnn) kickstart it!

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer, Superstition ain’t the way, no, no, no

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