Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

Smart Tangram

The traditional tangram is a puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes. The object of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap.

The Smart Tangram is a set of bluetooth low-energy enabled shapes that can change color according to rules set in a corresponding mobile application. They can communicate with the phone, but also recognize the presence of other shapes nearby. Maria Paula is currently exploring the interaction possibilites when objects are smart and aware of each other. She decided to start with a game that traditionally already plays with the positioning of objects. So how can we augment this experience by adding a digital control over the physical pieces?

So far, this project allows users to:

  • Color the final shape to match the drawing of the silhouette
  • Color each shape individually and set rules of proximity (e.g. when the shapes and nearby colors are added, or the smaller becomes the color)
  • Teach kids how color addition works in RGB.

Each Smart Tangram piece is made of frosted acrylic and has a circuit including a nrf51822 chip, tilt sensors, and WS2812 RGB LEDs. The mobile application is built with PhoneGap/Cordova and a BLE-central plugin.