Turn-Taking Device Using Arduino

Conversation analysts consider turns to be the most basic unit of conversation. As you would imagine, the intricacies of turn-taking have been well documented by researchers, and this process always involves the careful transcription of pre-recorded conversation.

Turn-Taking Device

I am no expert but wanted to develop a recording tool for my own personal research. Below you will see how I developed my first rudimentary prototype. In short, the device monitors who is talking in a 2-person dialogue and measures the length of each turn.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Below are the components I used:

Arduino Uno

Electret Microphone Amplifier (x2)

MicroSD card breakout board

SD/MicroSD Memory Card (4 GB SDHC)

USB MicroSD Card Reader/Writer

3.5mm (1/8in) Stereo TRS Male to Male Audio Cable (x2)

3.5mm Stereo Input Jack (x2)

2 small light bulbs

1 push button

2 mm screws

Step 2: Assemble Components

Turn-Taking Device Diagram

The components are assembled as shown in the above diagram. The sketch works in the following manner:

When the record button is pressed, the Arduino monitors the volume level from each mic. Theoretically, the louder mic indicates which person is speaking, and this is communicated by one of the two lights. For example, if mic A volume is higher, lightbulb A turns on, indicating that person A is speaking. The length of each turn is measured using a simple timer and is written to a text file on the SD card. Pressing the record button a second time stops the loop and closes the text file.

Step 3: 3D Print Case

The case is simple. It includes precise mounting places for each component. I used the Object Vero White material for most of the case and later printed two rectangular pads in rubbery Tango Black to keep the mics from slipping around on the table.


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