Concordia Student Develops “Comfort Plushy”

Have you ever wished you could communicate with a friend in a faraway place simply by squeezing a plush toy? Well that is precisely the Internet of Things device and application one Concordia student designed in her STEAM Lab 2 class to stay in touch with her friend back home.

The Bolt spoke with Michelle (G11), and supervisor Dr. Santos, to learn how she did it:

“I developed a mobile app and a physical device (the plushy). The plushy is connected to the internet and communicates with the mobile app. The mobile app can control the plushy by making it move its arms and make sounds. The plushy can also send messages to a mobile app called Blynk by pressing some buttons on it.”

“I wanted to make a two-way communication - the person with the application can ‘talk’ to the Comfort Plushy holder, while the plushie can also communicate to the application.”

Where did you get the idea for this project?

“I made the ‘Comfort Plushy’ because it has been over a year since I moved to Vietnam. I felt like my friendship with my old friend back home was drifting. So I made this ‘Comfort Plushy’ in remembrance of her, of how she would comfort me - that's why its name is ‘Comfort Plushy’. When I created the idea I was thinking of her and how It could help us communicate better.” 

“Since it's a little odd for me to text like ‘hey I know we haven't talked in awhile but I just wanna talk.’ So I created the Comfort Plushy as a way to share how I'm feeling in a broad context so that I can prepare myself to talk about it in more detail later.” 

“I installed three buttons behind the plushy’s head, with the options to say ‘today was hard’; ‘I miss you’ and ‘I am so happy’. When pressed, it sends a notification to the phone and will be displayed on the Blynk application - it will stay there until the app holder presses the buzzer to let the plushy holder know that they received the message.”

“The project idea was created totally by Michelle,” said Dr. Santos. “Michelle did the technical development of this project with my supervision and support. Her huge motivation allowed her to overcome every technical challenge that she faced. This shows that having great ideas and being passionate about what you were doing is the most important thing.”

“There's also a capacitive sensor inside the plushy,” Michelle explained. “I made it heart-shaped so if you pinch the tip of the heart It will make the LED and the Blynk application green.”

“There's even a feature to move the plushy’s arms. if you press the slider in the app, the Comfort Plushy’s arms move. This is a way of sending a 'hug’ from the app holder to the plushy holder.

“I think it is a cool project - since it’s like a live thing - and I think it has made my friend and me bond more.” 

In STEAM LAB 2, Concordia students develop their own IoT devices. IoT stands for Internet of Things, which describes physical devices with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that are connected to the internet, and therefore can be remotely accessed, controlled, and communicated with over the internet, from any place in the world (that has access to the internet).

To learn more about Conconcordia’s STEAM program, click here

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