Author Archive

On my own terms

Time is more illusory than we tend to believe. We assume time is concrete and arrange our lives around marking it. My work challenges the notion of “keeping time.” I built an unconventional clock that has unexpected properties to reject the time pestered modern life. This clock gives control over how we interpret the passage of our lives. “On my own terms” is also about rage against time, growing old and inevitable death.

The clock in my project has three distinct behaviours that change the pace or direction of the time indicator LEDs:

  1. Smelling the rose pauses the timer as a way to freeze a moment in the most delightful flashes of life.
  2. Lighting up the candle slows down the movement of the clock to imitate how we hope time stretches when having a romantic/therapeutic experience.
  3. And the last feature is to make time go back by looking at an old photo. This feature tickles nostalgia to realize an impossible dream of going back in time.

For the output LEDs I chose green and red to reference traffic lights and how timers also dictate us to go/stop at specific points in life and how demanding they are.

main-image


Sensor and Actuators:

I am using three sensors in total for this project (LDR, thermal, Ultrasonic), and each sensor drives one form of response:

  1. Take a rest from a long day/Freeze the moment – I attached a light sensor to a rose petal so that when you move your nose closer to smell it, the shadow from the user’s face is detected. This sensor could also be mounted on a pillow as a form to freeze time while you are sleeping. I have used an LDR for this part, and the threshold is 100 for detecting the closeness of the face. Link to the video! ldr    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-12-51-08-pm
  2. Cozy up and have a romantic dinner – In the setting, we have a candle beside the flower. The candle jar has a thermal sensor attached to its top (an inch higher than where the flame goes). Once the candle lits (indicating a romantic or attentive experience), the timer starts running slower to relax the user and encourage them not to rush out of it. The temperature highly relies on the exact place one mounts the sensor in the jar. But for my purpose, I chose the reading of 700 and higher as an indicator for the candle being inflamed. Link to the video!

    img_8586    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-3-40-26-pm

  3. An old map of Toronto hung at the back of my setting that has a proximity sensor attached to the bottom of it. Once the user goes close to the frame and reads the map, the clock runs backward. This behaviour is to entertain the nostalgia we feel gazing at old photos. Link to the video!                                                 proximity-sensor    screen-shot-2021-10-29-at-12-23-00-pm

For the actuator, I am using single LEDs mounted on a circular plate to act as a timer. The LEDs are assigned to pins in an array and get turned on in turns. I got the most out of the single LED light by using the reflection from aluminum foil and the defusing effect of tissue papers. I am using 8 LEDs and pairing them with 200-ohm resistors.

Material: For the whole setup, I reused and recycled a lot of household objects. I reused a candle jar, a flower stem, and a photo I already had around for the input. I used a couple of paper straws, aluminum foil, and an aluminum pie plate for the clock (output). In terms of soldering and putting the circuit together, I tried to be mindful of the following usages and attach parts to disassemble them later. The only waste produced in this process is some tape and labels.


Calm Design Discussion:

  1. A user’s primary task should not be computing but being human: The interactions for this project are rational and not newly introduced. Lighting up a candle, smelling a flower, and looking at a photo are good old human actions that do not need any computing or machine-like performances.
  2. Technology should work even when it fails: The timer in this project is running even when the user does not interact with it. Also, the operation does not change drastically or fail in case of a misconnection or wrong reading.
  3. Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak: The clock is a familiar day-to-day object, so choosing a visual timer output does not disturb the environment and can run in the background.

Reflection: Using the experience from Exp1, I started with the sensors to make sure they do detect what I think they should. This practice saved me a lot of time in the beginning. For example, I intended to catch the user walking using the proximity sensor. Still, I soon realized the line of sight is essential for the ultrasonic sensor, and it has a smaller range for the maximum distance detectable. This realization shifted my design towards a more stable form of proximity (standing in front of a picture). Another challenge I faced was that the temperature sensor reading did not come down quickly, so I had to bend my design around that characteristic. With the LDR, the measurements were more real-time and reliable; I will link more diverse actions to light and shadow in my future projects. Furthermore, for the number of LEDs in the clock, I realized that too many would complicate the wiring while not adding much visual value. I will also be more mindful of pauses in the system, like how I pause the clock if the input is not reliable and reads the wrong number once, then the break in the system goes on for a few seconds while it is not supposed to.

Development images:

development-leds-lighting-up-in-turn   development-temp-sensor development-ultrasonic-sensor   development-led-effects

Main circuit (placed inside the gift box)

Main circuit (placed inside the gift box)

Github link: https://github.com/ZhinoTheCoder/CC_Exp2/blob/main/SesitiveObject

Circuit diagram:

wiring

Video links:

Rose – https://www.dropbox.com/s/7qctddh46mudbg8/Timer%20stops.MOV?dl=0

Candle – https://www.dropbox.com/s/smf57qunq9agroj/Timer%20slows%20down.MOV?dl=0

Picture – https://www.dropbox.com/s/hzix3642lceqnq5/Going%20back%20in%20time.mov?dl=0

References:

Ultrasonic sensor – https://www.maxbotix.com/articles/how-ultrasonic-sensors-work.htm

Artworks about time – https://www.studioarts.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/LL18_TickTockCat_F3_WEB.pdf

Cyborg Botany – https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/cyborg-botany/overview/

 

Abeona: Souvenirs from a P5.js journey

Description

Abeona is the Greek Goddess of the outward journey, looking over kids when they take their first steps away from home [1]. This project is an overall view of my short journey with P5.js, away from home (as I usually code in a financial/banking context). Along this road, I played with all 3 of the body-related technologies and used hand, face, and body recognition.

When facing a creativity tool as interactive as coding, building a game looks almost inevitable. So, the first study is a tribute to my inner child. I made a candy-eating game using facial recognition. The second study explores other experiences we can have on the 2D screen. This one uses body tracking is to entertain my dream to dive into the deep sea. The third study is my way to step back and reflect on how the digital world is not just affecting us but also defining us [2]. For this study, I employed hand-tracking technology to show how demanding the digital world could be.

The pain points of these implementations were mainly on the body tracking side. The tools introduced are not as accurate or fast-tracking as I would need for most of my ideas. It is essential to consider the limits of each library early in the design process. On the other hand, the P5.js community and immense resources are the Abeona of learning to code. These resources are excellent guides that make any implementation achievable.

 

1&2. The first control in this game is scrolling through head movement from side to side. With this way of scrolling, slowly, the user sees the “mouth” image moving in the same direction as they go.

gamemove

Scrolling through head movement

Secondly, the user has control over when the candies are eaten by opening and closing your “mouth” (this acts as a toggle click).

Eating candy through mouth opening

Eating candy through mouth opening

Only with an open mouth could users eat candies falling their way. The eaten sweets are clustered on the top left side of the canvas in a yellow bucket. This video shows the user scrolling and clicking with face-tracking technology.

Watch the video here

Try it now!

Click here to play this Halloween-themed game. Make sure you are in a well-lit area and have your face in front of a webcam. Give the tracker a few seconds to load, and a couple of seconds after you see your face, you can play.

Edit link

 

3. This project combines the joy of being in nature with coding. For this scroll, the user has to perform a swim-like activity. When arms are opening, the picture rolls. By swimming in front of the camera, users can see the lower parts of the Picture, deeper sea zones.

Watch the video here

I came across a website with a similar idea that has more details on creatures living in different depths of water [3].

Try it now!

Start your adventure by having your arms straight and in front of your chest like this:

Pause scroll with still arms

Pause scroll with still arms

Then start opening them up to sides while holding straight (As you would do in breaststrokes) and watch the image scrolling to a deeper sea area:

Image scrolls down as user opens up their arms

Image scrolls down as user open up their arms

Edit link

 

4. Last work signifies the competition for our attention in the digital world. In this project, a pushbutton follows the user’s index finger and makes itself click. But if the hand posture changes to a fist or high five, the button stops following the user. This game represents both the demanding digital world plus the fact that we can and should control our digital activities. The users gain control by awareness of the time they spend on every digital tool. In this interaction, “No action” is still an action [4]; the button will click if users do not restrain it.

Watch the video here

Try it now!

Put either hand on a well-lit blank surface. The camera could have a top or front-facing view. With a pointing pose like this, you will attract the button:

Pointing pose attracts the button

Pointing pose attracts the button

With other poses (fist, high-five), you can stop the button:

Put fingers together to stop the button from moving

Put fingers together to stop the button from moving

Edit link!

 

 

Bibliography

[1] Took, Thalia. Abeona, Roman Goddess of Journeys, http://www.thaliatook.com/OGOD/abeona.php

[2] Mühleisen, Martin. “F&d Article.” The Impact of Digital Technology on Society and Economic Growth – IMF F&D Magazine – June 2018 | Volume 55 | Number 2, https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/06/impact-of-digital-technology-on-economic-growth/muhleisen.htm.

[3] Liang, John, et al. “Scroll down to the Bottom of the Sea.” DeeperBlue.com, 17 Jan. 2020, https://www.deeperblue.com/scroll-down-to-the-bottom-of-the-sea/.

[4] Wilson, George, and Samuel Shpall. “Action.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 4 Apr. 2012, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/action/.

 

Consulted and repurposed code:

Stock images used:

 

 

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