Technology is constantly being used by parents to engage their children. Children especially in the age of 5 - 10 years are getting more involved with their devices.This has a huge negative impact as children are conversing less with their family/friends and are more focused in the technology. 

In a collaborative team of designers, engineers and business professionals I worked on the project for making the dining experience more involving through the Internet of Things. As parents become more busy, children start to get involved more with their phones. By simulating an environment we want to get them back to the dining table. This was accomplished by sounds produced through movement of the utensils. 

CMU | 49-713, Designing for the Internet of Things

MY ROLE | User Research, Prototyping and Documentation

Time | 2 weeks

  • An accelerometer is attached to the fork that will have a sound connected to it whenever it is lifted up to the mouth
  • A liquid sensor is used in the cup; when there is a change in the liquid level, there will be a sound associated with

  • When the whole family is done eating (signaled by the utensil/accelerometer not moving for more than one minute), a the LED strip and neopixel under their plates light up signaling the end of dinner

Depending on the child's age, keeping them entertained and excited throughout dinner will promote an easier interaction and more quality experience for the whole family. With children being the target, there are multiple theme choices for the sounds to give them options and keep them interested. The first theme is the rainforest.

The sounds for the rainforest are as follows:

  • There is a constant sound of rain for ambience 
  • When the fork is used, a cricket, koyla bird, and parrot sound is played. (Each person at the table has a different rainforest sound assigned to them.  
  • When the liquid level of any cup changes, a thunder clap is heard and the LED strip and Neopixel under the plates light up simulating lightening.
  • The LED strip under the plate lights up at the end of the meal with sparkling green and blue lights. The goal of the final light show is to entice the whole family to stay at the dinner table until everyone is done with their meal. The plate sparkles blue and green color when the spoon/fork stops moving. 

Click here to view Code for Prototype

Material Used


- Plates, Neopixel, LED strip and Jumper Wires


- Plastic Cup, PN 12110215TC-8 Liquid Sensor, 460 ohm resistor, 6-pin push button, stick (to hold liquid sensor up), Jumper Wires, Particle Microprocessor


Fork, 6-pin push button, ADXL335 accelerometer, Jumper Wires, Particle Microprocessor 

Wiring Diagram for Fork

Wiring Diagram for Plate

Wiring diagram for Cup


  1. Setting up the neopixel ring and strip, exploring different lighting patterns,refining the lightning and adding a fade to the end.
  2. To see what pattern would be best, buttons were added and correspond to each effect. The biggest barriers were figuring out how to make the code stop looping. It was the first thing tackled though so remedied early. 
  3. Refine lighting to simulate lightning pattern in nature. 
  4. Refine finale lighting color to be more related to our rainforest theme.
  5. Linked with fork and cup to allow communication between ecosystem