Flicker Deck

Uncategorized — rbrill @ 11:37 am

Flicker Deck Demonstration from Ryan B. on Vimeo.



Skateboarding is fun, but participating in the sport comes with a good deal of risk. The biggest dangers are uneven pavement and passing cars. Uneven and cracked pavement reduces the control of skateboarders and can cause crashes in cases of extreme speed and very poor asphalt. Cars often do not see skateboarders or do not know how much space to give them.

Flicker Deck highlights rough pavement as a skateboarder passes over it. LEDs provide a visual indicator of rough pavement to those riding behind the owner of a Flicker Deck and surrounding cars. This information lets other riders better plan their path downhill and lets nearby cars know that the skateboarder has less control and should be given more attention or a wider berth.

Flicker Deck users a small microphone to translate the vibrations created by riding over rough pavement to red light. I chose red light for this project because it mimics the behavior of car brake lights and can take advantage of an already existing mental model. Drivers are trained to slow down when they see red brake lights suddenly brighten in front of them

Flicker Deck was inspired by Project Aura, a bike light that illuminates wheels based on the speed of the cyclist.

I was also interested in the idea of translating the micro-topography of our roads into another form of information. Long boarders gain a very intimate knowledge of the characteristics of the roads around them, and I like the idea of sharing that knowledge with others.

If I were going to extend this project, I would add a module that tracks and stores location and vibration data and use the information gathered over time to map pavement quality in an area. This information could be used by other long boarders to plan routes and by local governments to plan road maintenance.

How it Works

A protective case secured to the bottom of the deck houses a microprocessor, a 9V battery and microphone. The microphone is secured behind a small hole cut in the side of the case. This hold provides clearer input for the microphone and lets it pick up the noise made by passing cars.

The microprocessor takes the amplitude of the sound picked up by the microphone and outputs a corresponding level of power to a string of LEDs that emerge from a small slot cut into the case and wrap around the bottom of the skateboard. By wrapping the LEDs around the trucks of the board I was able to get the translucent wheels to glow along with the ground.


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