Meet Ashish Bakshi, TinyCircuits user who designed and built a 3D printed, wooden, smart engagement ring using a TinyScreen+ which he called Project Halo. Ashish is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and a tech and auto enthusiast. He is a graduate from Yale College, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Business School. He is currently experimenting with mixed (visual/augmented) reality, 3D printing, robotics and lots of other cool things! Ashish is passionate about using tech to advance society in different ways and has worked on ventures in areas ranging from electric cars to low-cost smartphones, electronic medical records, medical imaging, and more. He is inspired to create to either solve a problem or to dive into something he finds interesting (like robotics and augmented/virtual reality), picking up the necessary skills on the fly.
In June of 2016, Ashish decided to propose to his now- wife Kavya in August of that year. He didn't want to go the usual metal-mounted rock route and thought she might appreciate something more unique. He had about seven weeks to transform the ring from a napkin sketch to a real device for his soon to be wife’s ring finger. Ashish had just graduated with his JD/MBA from Harvard and was studying for the bar exam at the same time – while also planning his proposal – more on this later!
Initially, his plan was to build a ring with an attached LED matrix reading "Will you marry me?" But then he got creative and realized he might be able to fit a full-blown graphical display and some processing power into a ring form factor. Then one day he was strolling through Micro Center and came across a TinyDuino on a shelf, remembering back to the TinyDuino Kickstarter years before, he headed to the TinyCircuits site to check out the latest products where he found the TinyScreen+. 1.5 months later he had designed and built a 3D printed wooden smart ring, and this is how he did it:
Ashish's goal for Project Halo was to package his desired tech functionality within a form that looked and felt like a ring. One of the most challenging parts of the project was designing the body of the ring. Looking for ways to reduce the size and weight and to make it feel like a real piece of jewelry, not just a digital gizmo. Ashish 3D printed the body via his M3D Micro which allowed for rapid iteration, by the end he had printed fifteen full-body prototypes and hundreds of buttons. Ashish said designing tiny push buttons and a power rocker switch was much more challenging than he expected and gave him a newfound respect for the industrial design of tiny devices.
On the material front, he ended up using primarily a wood-PLA composite filament, some Swarovski crystals for a jewelry-esque touch, laser-cut acrylic for the screen surface and gold paint to cover most of the exterior to give the ring an antique look. Internally, the ring has a TinyScreen+, MicroSD TinyShield, a lithium-ion battery and a MicroSD card. Next up, software- Ashish created an operating environment for apps, with a home screen app launcher and a media viewer. From the rings built-in MicroSD card the ring is able to display hundreds of photos and videos of Ashish and Kavya. For this, he created a TSV/video converter app to convert media (photos, videos and living images) into a format that the microcontroller could process. My favorite part is that Ashish customized some of the games (Flappy Bird, Space Invaders, etc) to feature Kavya as the lead character.
But wait, Ashish wasn't done yet! Now that the ring was complete it was time to propose, James Bond style! After a visit with Kavya’s parents, they started the drive back, dropping her parents off at the airport along the way. Unbeknownst to Kavya, her parents were actually flying to the same place they were driving to, a public park Ashish had picked out for the proposal location. Ashish's parents and brother were also heading to the location, but for anybody unable to make it for the surprise, Ashish built a website where family and friends could track their progress on the road (via GPS on his phone).
They eventually reached the spot, which he pitched as just a picturesque detour. He had hired a photographer, with whom he met after they arrived on-site secretly in the men's restroom. Walking into the park he activated a USB spy pen camera he'd placed in his jacket pocket for some extra footage. When they finally reached the site their families emerged from some trees behind them, giving Kavya quite a surprise as Ashish proposed! Some relatives and friends were able to watch the event live via an in-browser multi-party video chat system he had built into the proposal website!
Ashish says if you have an idea, just jump in and build it! Do your homework and inform yourself in advance of your project, but remember that you can learn a remarkable amount on the fly- from tutorials, documentation forum posts, StackOverflow questions and the like. He has yet to design a smart ring for anyone else but would be happy to, anyone is welcome to contact him through his website. Ashish has a digital notebook full of ideas for the future. He's been itching to build another robot, maybe this time integrating virtual reality telepresence via a stereoscopic 360 camera!?
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