Message in a Bottle

What is it?
Message in a Bottle is the first prototype in a series of physical objects for the home that notify their owner of incoming emails. Our goal is to limit our compulsion to obsessively check the computer for new messages while also bringing characteristics of postal mail to the digital world.

Through ambient lighting, this wine bottle will display the amount of new emails from a set of specific contacts (i.e. friends from back home) which are defined in the user’s email client. Picking up the bottle will activate an LCD screen with a summary of the most recent message while turning the bottle upside-down will load the next new message. Once all messages have been read, the LCD screen and ambient light will shut off until new messages are received.

How does it work?
Inside the wine bottle is a circuit board with an Arduino, LCD screen, accelerometer, XBee radio transmitter, 9volt battery, power switch and an extra bright LED. A second Arduino and radio transmitter sends the email messages to the bottle (our final prototype does not actually download real emails from the internet). The amount of messages sent to the bottle controls the brightness of the LED. The accelerometer inside the bottle determines when the bottle has been picked up and activates the LCD screen. The accelerometer also determines when the wine bottle has been turned upside down and cycles through the messages. When all messages have been read, the bottle switches off the LED and LCD and waits for new messages.

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