Arduino makers project - Spira


SPIRA is a Frame and Clock designed to charge iPhones by the means of electromagnetic induction, while, at the same time, showing the time of the day and the level of charge of the iPhone, giving it a place of honor in the home atmosphere. Using an Arduino Micro and a number of sensors, plus thermochromic paint and magnets, the object was made with a wood case and an aluminium front, in respect of traditional wood clocks that we see hanging on walls.

The project was the Diploma project done at écal, École Cantonale d’art de Lausanne, (ECAL / University of Art and Design, Lausanne, Switzerland), Bachelor Media and Interaction Design in 2014.


What have you made?

My project is an interactive Frame, Charger and Clock. It’s called SPIRA, as this is the technical name of the spiral in the magnetic induction, but it also represents the rotation, roundness and geometric shapes used in this project.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

We are often forced to be connected to chargers’ wires during the day, due to the extensive use we do of our mobile devices. I thought it would be a good idea to create an alternative way to charge our mobile phone.

What is the original idea behind this project?

To exploit the inductive technology to charge the phone wirelessly and to exploit the magnetic force idea to fix the phone to a frame on the wall. Since many people use the phone also as a clock, I decided to integrate the clock into the charger system.

How does it work?

1. Insert the phone in its dedicated magnetic iPhone cover and launch the application “SPIRA”;
2. You’ll see a number of balls on your phone display. Each ball corresponds to 10% of the battery charge.
3. The magnetic cover holds the phone into place. The phone starts charging thanks to the inductive spirals obtained in the SPIRA frame.
4. The thermochromic paint used for the SPIRA frame gives you a visual feedback of the charging process.
5. If you turn the phone on the frame, its display will show an analogue clock. The phone can be positioned the way you want, the clock hand will always stay in the correct position.
6. Once you remove the iPhone, the thermochromatic paint goes back to its initial colour.

How long did it take to make it real?

About 6 months.

How did you build it?

I made it with an Arduino Micro. A modified (to stay fixed to this circle pivot and to make it rotate) magnetic iPhone cover with an induction spiral inside.
A sticker silk screen printed with black thermochromic paint, that shows the printed image below it, once it becomes hot.
Sensors to check the level of the phone battery charge.
Sensors to make Arduino warm up the system (up to 32 degrees Celsius) according to the phone charge.
A light sensor that is used to understand if the phone is charging in the dark: it won’t let the system warm up and change color in the darkness.
Seven small magnets for the cover and an iron disk inside the SPIRA frame.
Protective ink to make the SPIRA frame resistant to the scratches that may be created by the phone rotation.
Wood and aluminium for the hanging SPIRA frame.