Putting On A Face or Two

Our local hackerspace is Heatsync Labs which is a member/donation funded nonprofit, based in downtown Mesa, and established in 2009. The lab is filled with power tools, learning events, and helpful people. Its definitely the place to be weekday evenings where it is open to the public to build art and engineering marvels. That said, the display cases could use some more interactivity for people walking by. alt We decided to start refurbishing this area with an internet of things smorgasbord. The first of our many internet of things implementations to be placed there is a mannequin with a mounted tablet on its head displaying a web page that has a CSS generated face. The face is changeable based on sentiment analysis of speech picked up through a microphone dropped from a drilled inside hole in the roof to an outside one.

The process of using software to facilitate all this is fairly simple and involves just two steps.

  • Make a PageNodes flow that takes in speech, assigns a sentiment score, creates a Meshblu connection and publishes useful JSON objects to that server through a websocket connection.
  • Make a site that produces a CSS face, textbox, and subscribes to the Meshblu server that PageNodes is publishing JSON objects to through another websocket connection, with Javascript functions that can alter the face and textbox based on said JSON objects.

#####The PageNodes Portion First we make the voice rec and sentiment analysis nodes.


Second we add a MeshBlu server configuration and identify it using the “Create UUID/Token” button.


And that’s it!


#####The Site Portion


We start by making an HTML skeleton like so:

    <link rel='stylesheet' href='styles.css'></link>
    <script src='main.bundle.js'></script>
I use [WebPack]( to bundle the meshBlu library I am requiring in my JavaScript file so as to send to my [Surge]( hosted site less files and avoid the messiness of globalized libraries. ###### CSS In styles.css, we compartmentalize in classes the: * .face (the color, shape, and positioning of the head) * .eyes.left and eyes.right * .mouth * .brows.left and .brows.right * .textBox However, we deal with moods in real life, and for that we need inner classes. People never have a mouth on them without any emotional indicator whatsoever. ![alt]( Similarly, our .mouth class when put on a div should need an emotion.

The CSS specifics for all the face components are on my Github.

That said, there is a CSS tool that is important to mention here about the animation process of all these face components that happens when changing them per mood: transitions.

transition: all 600ms ease-in-out;
You place a line like that in a specific CSS class and then write what properities in the class should be affected by the transition utility... in this case 'all'. Then you say how long you want a changing phase to last between class switches or just class property switches, and lastly set what the changing phase should look like. This awesome tool is currently supported on [Chrome](, [Firefox](, and [IE]( among other browsers assuming one uses the most up-to-date of each. The text box is then placed after the face in the HTML and is specialized into only three moods of angry, mellow, and ecstatic unlike the five we have for the whole face: angry, upset, mellow, happy, and ecstatic.
/*General positioning rules and size of text*/
    color: #CC0000;
    text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,1);
    color: #FFFF99;
    color: #33FF33;


Next, in main.js there is a current sentiment value variable that changes from 0 (never lower) to 30 (never higher) based on addition of the integer score given from the sentiment node in our PageNodes flow.

var currentSentiment = 15;
We have functions to add a delivered score and which mood should be represented based on the total sentiment value after adding said score:
function setMood(mood){}
function addSentiment(inputScore){}
function decideFace()
For setting which face we should have displayed, we say:
Where all setMood does is find the ID of every face component on our HTML and change the class to whichever mood we need. *For example:* Let's say we ultimately call setMood(‘happy’) because the decideFace() has hypothetically returned ‘happy’... then what ends up changing every CSS component distinction are lines in setMood(mood){} like:
document.getElementById('mouth').className='mouth ' + mood;
document.getElementById('leftbrow').className='brows left ' + mood;
Where every mood = ’happy’. Then in the HTML our div tags would change how is starts:
<div class='mouth mellow' id='mouth'></div>
<div class='brows left mellow' id='leftbrow'></div>
<div class='mouth happy' id='mouth'></div>
<div class='brows left happy' id='leftbrow'></div>
There are not any shockers there. The real fun is recieving JSON objects from PageNodes through websockets bridging the connection to and from Meshblu. This begins by creating a connection to a Meshblu server which is easy to do using the MeshBlu library:
var meshblu = require('meshblu');
var conn = meshblu.createConnection({});
Then we subscribe to the server PageNodes is sending JSON to:
conn.on('ready', function(data){
  console.log('ready', data);
    uuid: 'c8397dbe-aa11-463a-832b-4c6e5d81bbfc',
    types ['broadcast']},
      console.log('subscribed', err);

That UUID property should look familiar because it is the same series of characters from when we made that meshBlu server in PageNodes:


Looking back at our constructed meshblu node we see its the same as our UUID property:


Now you can do something every time a new message is listened to by the web page like so:

conn.on('message', function(data){

And there you have it!


An interactive web page that takes in speech from its PageNodes JSON object delivery and changes its face emotion accordingly.

What's Being Considered Next?

  • Hooking up servos to the mannequin's arms to move them based on the speech input from outside using Johnny-five.
  • Connecting Philips Hue lightbulbs and talking to them through PageNodes to change color based on sentiment as well.
  • Putting in a modestly rare (but not too rare so as to break the bank) Pepe that when my name is spoken replaces whatever current face is showing on the webpage and disappears after five seconds and returns the CSS face back.
  • Make more IoTing happen like saying "dance party" to turn on a strip of a neon color LED arrangement, replaces the CSS face with a disco ball gif, and play a banger from mounted speakers.

We are always open to ideas, leave a comment or tweet at us. -LJ