The Hands Up Audio Recorder
This project was featured on the Products of Design department blog.
What: A digital audio recorder that is triggered by users raising their hands above their head
Who: Victims of police brutality*
Where: Products of Design class "Making Studio", under the guidance of Becky Stern
When: Products of Design, Semester 1
Why: To help people hold people in positions of power accountable for their actions
How: The audio recorder is triggered by an accelerometer that can sense when the user’s hands are above his head, and is powered by a small Lithium battery. Once activated, the microcontroller at the heart of this project, an Adafruit Pro Trinket, then begins to sample audio through a small microphone, and writes it down to a microSD card, and blinks on a green LED.
Because of the memory-intensive code that audio sampling and accelerometers require, I had to incorporate two microcontrollers in my circuit; this made miniaturizing the circuit difficult. Completing this project required understanding the timer architecture of the Arduino Uno, and similar microcontrollers. The instructions for assembling the circuit are posted on Instructables and have received over 8000 views. The code is available here and here. I also directed and edited a short video about the audio recorder with the help of Adem Onalan.
*This project is not intended to cast a negative light on each and every police officer in the United States. There are many officers who go to work everyday and risk their lives in the line of duty - this project isn't meant to denounce their actions. At the same time, there are enough officers who abuse their power that it isn't just a statistical anomaly - there are systemic forces at work that unduly favor those in positions of power. Because police officers are given more power to wield, they must be held to a higher standard. If one police officer out of every hundred abuses his power, America as a society must be extremely concerned about that one officer.