July 2nd, 2021—
Very few of us are ever excited to wake up for the work day, but your mood can still vary from one morning to the next. If you had a rough night, you might wake up feeling melancholy. In that case, the last thing you want to do is hear depressing news on the radio. To help people enter wakefulness, Varenya Raj built a radio called Nidra that tailors the morning news to suit its user’s mood.
Nidra’s design is unusual, in that it doesn’t resemble any radio or alarm clock that you’ve ever seen. Atop its plastic enclosure there are two buttons. The first looks like a pin cushion and the second seems like it could have come from a shaggy, purple marmot.
If the user is in a bad mood when the alarm goes off, they can slam their hand down onto the cushioned button. Nidra will then play only upbeat news. If the user is in a better mood and can handle the full breadth of the day’s news, they can stroke the purple fur. At the end of the month, a thermal receipt printer pops out statistics on the number of times the user pressed each button.
An Arduino Uno board controls Nidra’s behavior. The cushion has a standard button, while the fur attaches to a force sensitive resistor. Depending on the button pressed, the Arduino sketch tells a connected computer running a Processing sketch to play news from one of two RSS feeds. We imagine that most people will choose the happy news most mornings, but it is always nice to have options.