Leanne Pienaar, currently doing her Master’s degree with prof. Thomas Jones as supervisor, last year won the regional student competition of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers with her fourth-year project, aptly called SEESAW. She also received one of two discretionary prizes awarded by judges in the national competition.
SEESAW stand for Synchonised Electronic Entertainment System using Android and Wi-Fi, which Leanne developed with Willem Smit as project leader. SEESAW demonstrates the ability to control a physical system wirelessly, with a mobile phone. The physical system is a motor-controlled mechanical labyrinth that can tilt around its x- and y-axes. When the Android phone is tilted, the angle is measured and instantaneously sent wirelessly to a Wi-Fi router programmed with an embedded Linux platform. The router then sends an instruction to the labyrinth motors to tilt the labyrinth to the same angle. The aim of the game is to guide a ball through the labyrinth without falling into any trap-holes, simply by tilting the Android phone and, indirectly, the physical labyrinth. However, the project is more than just a game – it can be used to develop innovative future applications such as the control of household lighting and appliances from a mobile phone.
Leanne credits her the excellent IT teacher she had at Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West for her choice of career.