In the summer of 2021 I was fortunate enough to receive a grant through the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) at CU Boulder to work with the MIndscribe Project. Mindscribe is led by Dr. Layne Hubbard and focuses on enabling preschool-aged children to reflect and tell stories. My project was to take the current prototype and add functionality including multi-lingual and multi-voice functionality. I worked on the project more or less full time from the end of May to the end of June totaling about 5 weeks. The biggest part of the project turned out to be transferring the hardware and software from Arduino to Raspberry Pi. The project was featured in a CU article which you can check out below.
A little more detail
I started off getting familiar with the hardware and the code using an old shoebox prototype pictured on the left. Once I understood the current system, I began working with the prototype pictured in the center. It had the same inner hardware but was actually built to resemble a tree stump which is what the current design concept entails. After adding some functionality to the current system, I started hitting limitations on the Arduino-based hardware and decided that it was time to move over to a more flexible and powerful system using Raspberry Pi. I built yet another shoebox prototype, pictured on the right, using the new hardware and started re-architecturing and completely rewriting the code base.
As my time on the project neared an end, I had a nearly fully functioning hardware and software system with multi-lingual and multi-voice capabilities and a system that was set up to allow for the easy addition of more prompts and voices/languages. The next step was to meet with the other students on the Mindscribe team and solder the hardware together and put it in the housing that was built by one of the other students. After a long assembly day, I had one last week to fix some final issues and hand off a fully functioning prototype to be tested.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work on this project both for the skills I gained and for the people I worked with. Mostly on my own, I was able to learn how to work with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, how to develop code in Python, gained comfort with electrical systems, learned to do Linux command line craziness and much more. I was also able to work with and learn from an incredible PhD student and two other fantastic CU students. I can't wait to see where the lab takes the project next!