Makeathon Challenge: Create a tool that would allow a finance company get an overview of a complex system.

Skills: Rapid Prototyping, Arduino, Product Design, Interaction Design

Type: Personal, Makeathon

Time: 2 weeks (Jan-Feb 2016)

Team: Andreas Balaskas, Christopher Gi, Etienne Bourbon, Lukas Flynn

 

What is it?

The B-Cube is a 3D data visualization tool. Instead of staring at a mess of data, graphs, and a series of curves, users can easily point out what is the most striking in a series of data when looking at a 3D representation. Users can pinpoint the peaks and valleys in a data set and even physically select a data point that they are more interested in.

 

Instead of staring at this...

Untitled.png
profit-and-loss-1.gif
 

Understand your data with this!

bcube_in_situ.png
 

1. Send Data to B-cube

Select the data you're interested in seeing visualized in physical form. Whether you're looking at data via a server, excel, SQL, you can send the data over to the B-cube.

data to cube
 

2. B-cube shifts to your data

The B-cube is made of a series of columns, each of which represents a data point. Customize your set to show what you're interested in, whether you want the cube to be showing historical data or be continually updating to demonstrate live data

Each cube is outfitted with multi-colored LEDs, allowing you to stretch your data out to a fourth dimension.

moving-cube.gif
 

3. Choose what interests you

See an unexpected peak or valley that interests you? Pick that cube and more details about that data point will appear on your desktop.

Making a Working prototype

the good struggle with arduinos

 

Challenges included:

  • Figuring out how to make something go up and down (much harder than I expected ....)
  • Making do with a limited supply of tools and limited time
 
 
Testing out a mechanism to make things move up and down with my chapstick.

Testing out a mechanism to make things move up and down with my chapstick.

Programming a series of neopixels to adjust in color.

Programming a series of neopixels to adjust in color.

 
Putting the working prototype together in a simple laser cut cardboard box.

Putting the working prototype together in a simple laser cut cardboard box.

Working out the details with the team.

Working out the details with the team.

 

 

Final prototype components used:

  • Arduino Uno
  • Motor shield
  • Step motors (2)
  • Continuous servos (2)
  • Neopixels (4)
  • Gluesticks (2)
  • 3-D printed linear actuators (2)
 
 

final thoughts

 

There were a lot of lessons to learn from this make-a-thon. Things I will keep in mind for next time:

 
 
  • Prioritize clear communication with your team over immediate speed - it will help you in the long run
  • Utilize work that others have already done to get yourself there faster