Readi is our attempt to answer the question: why do households often find themselves unprepared in times of emergency?

People often put off buying emergency equipment until it is too late when disaster actually strikes. That is just human nature: as our penchant to put off buying insurance or saving money shows, we are not great at convincing ourselves to get prepared for events in the future that might have low probabilities of occurring.

Readi won Fiverr® $10K Award for Creativity! And a finalist in Fast Company’s 2016 Innovation by Design Awards

Our solution was to embed emergency-preparedness into things that we use regularly in our daily lives. Readi is a smart home companion that tells you the time and weather while acting as a lamp and bluetooth speaker. In times of crisis, flip it over, and Readi becomes an emergency communication dashboard, providing a walkie talkie channel, national weather alert radio, and an FM radio.

Table of contents

Collaborated with David Al-Ibrahim and Kohzy Koh.
Duration: 6 weeks
Role: Coder
Scope: Discover › Define › Design › Build

Major role in the coding components; such as

1. Display the time on a 7-segment LED display, using the Real Time Clock (RTC) module and to make sure the time is accurate even without the battery.
2. Display temperature on the alphanumeric 7-segment LED display with a constant loop to check the temperature every 20 seconds.
3. Turn on emergency mode with a tilt switch


The Arduino Mega memory power was not enough for all the components. In addition, we also included an Arduino Uno. We learned that the accelerometer cannot be combined with 2 micro-controllers. The accelerometer was replaced with a tilt-switch to switch between the two modes. Building the external structure was also challenging, especially when all these components had to be tightly fitted inside.

We were inspired to work on this project because of our own personal experiences during the 2003 NYC blackout, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and Superstorm Sandy. In each occasion, we found ourselves stranded, stuck at home, and woefully unprepared. We knew of others less able-bodied than ourselves, who had difficulty leaving their homes and were trapped without the ability to seek or receive help for a very long. As the global proportion of people living in cities continues to grow, the increased concentration of homes in taller buildings means this problem is only going to worsen as more people will find themselves isolated should disaster strike.


We threw all of our questions, components, obstacles, and ideas on the board and iterated through possibilities for integration. Guided by user-centric design principles and qualitative research, we identified an opportunity to include useful tools into the devices people already use in their homes. 


When power fails, people need light and batteries to power it. When there is no access to TV or Wi-Fi, people need a radio to access information or weather news. When there is no cell service, people without landlines need other means to communicate, like walkie-talkies. However, people tend not to buy these devices until the need has passed, or they are lost in a closet or drawer unused and uncharged. Readi aims to incorporate these tools into a smart home device that regularly provides a Bluetooth speaker, lamp, clock, and weather forecaster – items we already use on a routine basis.


Everyday mode: Readi would display the time and temperature (with the corresponding color: For example: If the temperature ranges between 52- 62F, the LED color is bright blue.) In addition to the lamp setting, the user was able to turn on the bluetooth speaker.


Emergency mode: Readi is flipped to the emergency mode, there is a built-in walkie-talkie. The radio is tuned to an emergency channel and the lamp would automatically turn on (in case the power was outage.)


We took small steps when building Readi. First, the walkie-talkie and bluetooth speaker were broken down to its internal bits. Then we started building the everyday mode. Making sure the lamp, temperature and time were working as a whole. The walkie-talkie and radio were etched out so that the user can simply identify the two components during an emergency.


Internal: Arduino Uno, breadboard, Arduino Mega, Neo pixel ring, 7 segment display, alpha-numeric display, many jumper wires, tilt switch, bluetooth speaker, walkie-talkie, and radio. 
External: Acrylic and wood.