November 30, 2015

Things are going well! Our team has hit the ground with a running start. So far, the hardware team has developed an Arduino prototype that can capture an image and send it to our server, which will be the main function of our final product. However, we have only been able to send about 30 kilobytes of data from the Arduino reliably. The Arduino is not fast enough to support sending larger amounts of data within a reasonable time frame, so we are planning to use an ARM platform instead.

We have also made a neat little device to prototype and test more efficiently. It uses a magnet and a motor to simulate water flow through our water meters so we can test how well our image reading code works.

And finally, we have begun to more rigorously design the enclosure for the electronics. We have settled on a design that we think will effectively waterproof the enclosure.

Work on the application aspect of our invention is coming along nicely! We are just now diving into the coding process after laying out a storyboard and figuring out what is going to do what. For the time being we are creating a tab-based application that shows different aspects of the user’s water usage throughout each tab. It will be user-friendly with the intention of being usable by anyone from the common consumer to children and those less tech-savvy. The main focus now is the usage tab, which will display different graphs and visuals to allow the user to understand what is going where and to see his/her real time usage of water.

On the financial side, following complications regarding our tax exempt status online, we have finally opened an Amazon Prime account and purchased nearly all of our equipment and tools as well as the preliminary electronics for our first prototype. So far, we have spent $910.76 which accounts for 20% of our requested budget (after the fellowship), or most of our projected spending by the end of this month. It appears that our only remaining expenditures will be of cheap electronic parts, promotional/wearable materials and nourishment, so we are slightly under budget and it would seem that this will continue.

In the past past month, the Administrative Leads have met with their mentor for some guidance in regards to leading the team. In addition, the entire team met with Leigh Estabrooks from Lemelson-MIT to discuss our project. Lastly, at the kick-off meeting, we presented to some of our mentors and the school administration our progress so far and our project plan up until EurekaFest.

The team has really started to blend over the past few months. After working together throughout the summer, most of the team members were already fairly close. To further unite the team, at our kick-off meeting, the later part of the evening incorporated a group coding challenge. In a limited amount of time, the team was to build red and green, physical paddles and to write code for a pong game that would recognize such paddles and run accordingly. However, at random moments, those who were coding had to stop typing and pass the computers. This condition forced all of the team members to be aware of the other work that was going on around them so that they could resume coding where their peers had left off. During this activity, communication between team members developed greatly. Additionally, we bonded over coding challenges and achievements. At the end of the evening, although we did not fully complete the challenge due to a limited time frame, much progress was made in unifying the team over a shared passion.

Overall, we are off to a good start!