Portable, Interactive Art Project

Hello, I am revisiting these forums after almost a decade of being away. Had to create a new account. It's good to be back!

I am embarking on a new Arduino project. It is a simple, portable piece of interactive art.

Essentially It's a box with three lights on top. Inside the box will live a portable battery, the Arduino, and any wireless communication hardware.

The desired effects?

Either via RF, Bluetooth, NFC, or RFID, the box is able to have a light go dark. Think of it like tag. If someone carrying or pressing the right emitter is nearby the box, a light goes out. This can happen in sequence until all the lights go out.

The goal is to use hardware that can affect the box from 5-10 feet away. But no further than that. We will have a few of these boxes in use at the same time and accidentally affecting all the boxes in a large room at once would be an undesired effect.

Another thing:

Bring the box to a "recharge" point and you can add a light back. But that recharge point won't add another light to the same box for a time limit of 90 seconds. This can likely be achieved by using some kind of transmitter with a unique ID, and writing instructions for the Arduino that prevents it from recharging again from that unique ID for a span 90 seconds.

I hope this all makes sense.

What hardware do you suggest to pull this off? The trick is wireless communications that don't affect the box from far away, as this will be used as an interactive art installation that requires closer contact.

Thank you!!

RFID and NFC typically have a range of a few inches. WiFi and Bluetooth are typically 10 to 30 feet or more. Perhaps you could diminish range by shielding the antenna.

My first guess would be an Inexpensive OOK (on-off keying) receiver in each box. The people and charging stations would have the matching transmitter. Several times a second the transmitter would send a signal with an ID and a type (light off or recharge). The receiver can keep track of each recharge ID and lock them out for 90 seconds.

What about low power RF? Would that be too strong?

Most of these technologies are "low power RF". Are you referring perhaps to BLE?

A common question here is how to use RF technology to either determine or limit range within 20 to 100 metres. The technologies to do this exist, but are frequently proprietary and always very expensive as due to the nature of RF propagation they involve extremely fast timing and exclude common microcontrollers.

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