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Arduino, experience design

Team of Two
February 2014 - March 2014
Role: Interaction Designer, Arduino Prototyper


Preliminary study shows that ambient light changing from red to blue gradually can help human being wake up with less drowsiness. Campfire is an 'biological' alarm clock and lamp that was designed for easier waking up in the mornings.


Human body has its own biological clock that controls the natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. In part, the biological clock controls how much Melatonin human body makes. Normally, Melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours to help people wake up.

Light affects how much Melatonin human body produces. The light hits the closed eye of a sleeping individual and is transmitted through the eye to the Retina. The filtered light further excites the Melanopsin on Ganglion cell in Retina, which in turn cuts off Melatonin production in the Pineal Gland. From the excitation band of photo-pigment Melanopsin, we can tell that Melanopsin is the most excited when exposed to a blue light and displays little to no excitement when exposed to red light (above research and ideation came from my partner Chandan Hebble's prior course work).

Based on the effect of light upon the regulation of Melatonin, we see that waking up at high level of Melatonin causes the feeling of drowsiness. Therefore, we decide to build a lamp clock, which gradually increases the light intensity over time in the morning before the alarm goes off. The gently brightened blue light will effectively cut off Melatonin production, and help user easily wake up without drowsiness.


During the one-month period, I focused mostly on programming the features with Arduino. My partner was mainly responsible for 3D prototyping and also helped me with some of the programming work.

Arduino & Feature Design

The main part of Campfire is a NeoPixel ring (LEDs), which can be switched on/off by short press and release the fire-shape lamp (a button is hidden beneath). Campfire is designed to become active 30 minutes before the wake-up time, and slowly changes LED colors and brightness.

Timing and clock functions are realized by a RTC module and a LCD display. Long press and release the fire-shape lamp will get the users to time setting stage. Turning the lamp to the right or the left will correspondingly advance or back-off the time. When the correct time is achieved, simply short press and release the lamp to confirm.


External appearance include the internal 3D-printed NeoPixels supporter and the laser-cut wood base that encases all the electronic parts.

Demo Video