Node is a more responsive smoke alarm designed to communicate more clearly for users to quickly and easily understand. Node combines visual and auditory signals to accurately convey a spectrum of risk levels as well as better accommodate hearing impaired users.
This is an independent research project culminating in a functional prototype that I designed and engineered.
More than a third of homes are at risk due to non-functioning smoke alarms; either they are broken, out of batteries or purposefully disabled by the user *
We conducted user interviews to understand how people use their smoke alarms. The results showed user frustration and confusion with smoke alarms.
Participants reported that smoke alarms can seem to overreact to small amounts of smoke or steam, loudly ringing and startling users when they are trying to cook or stepping out of the shower. Users often do not maintain the batteries or intentionally remove them because the smoke alarm doesn’t seem to be working properly.
I conceptualized a smoke alarm that could alert users through sight as well as sound, using LEDs to assist the visually impaired and make smoke alarms easier for anyone to understand.
To prove out the concept, I built a functional prototype using a custom epoxy circuit board with a IR smoke sensor, piezo speaker, and LEDs driven by an Arduino microprocessor.
Juxtaposing perforated steel against clean, white plastic, the form of the device is both elegant and communicative. Node identifies the level of smoke and provides visual and auditory feedback on a scale of 1 to 6. The most minor levels of smoke or steam are met with a single LED and no noise, while more severe threats trigger more, brighter lights and louder sounds. By communicating the amount of smoke detected, Node enables users to better understand, anticipate and preempt alarms.
When Node detects a trivial amount of smoke, the first warning lights turn on but does not emit any disruptive noise yet.
When Node detects a trivial amount of smoke, the first warning lights turn on but does not emit any disruptive noise yet. Users can see as smoke levels rise, enabling them to preempt accidental alarms.
Users can see as smoke levels rise, enabling them to preempt accidental alarms.
When Node detects a severe amount of smoke, an alarm will sound. As the risk becomes greater, the noise becomes louder.
Node's novel design enables it to be mounted to the wall for easy visibility. This is particularly helpful for hearing impaired users who might otherwise not notice any signals from the device.