October 16th, 2021—
The fantastical world of wizards and magic is one that can be explored by reading a book, and what better way to represent this than building your very own interactive diorama within a reading corner? Well, that is exactly what Andy of element14 Presents created when he combined a small display, computer vision, and LED lights into a fun bookshelf adornment, which would accompany readers on their journeys.
To begin, Andy had to figure out how to get a computer vision system into a space that is no larger than a shoebox, and for this task, he settled on using the Portenta H7 board plus its Vision Shield to gather images and classify them. His attempts to integrate a string of NeoPixels and an ePaper display module with MicroPython were unsuccessful, so this required a switch to only using C with TensorFlow Lite and some custom functions to take the framebuffers from the camera and determine if a face is present.
The diorama models themselves were fashioned from cardboard model railway kits that included houses and a few streetlights. Finally, the LEDs were added both behind the houses and inside of each lamppost that allows them to flicker and light up when a person is watching the display. The ePaper module switches between various stills such as a wanted poster and the element14 logo.
To see more about how this diorama was constructed, check out Andy’s video below!