inFORM-Tangible Media Group in MIT Media Lab

Shreeya Tyagi, Thoreau Bakker and Jeffin Philip

 

Introduction

inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. This project was done by Tangible Media Group in MIT Media Lab. The purpose of this case study was to understand the design process and the research that was involved in the project. 

MIT media lab created an interface based on inFORM that was able to give urban planners more control to be able to shape and view entire cities. Dynamic shape displays changes how we virtually collaborate from a display. We can touch and manipulate objects from a distance and also collaborate on 3D data sets.

MIT Media Lab

The MIT Media Lab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory at the MIT devoted to projects at the meeting of technology, multimedia, sciences, art and design.”Inventing a better future” is the theme of the Media Lab’s work. A current emphasis of Media Lab research, which encompasses the work of several research groups, is on human adaptability. Other Research groups at Media Labs are focused on .

Overview of the Tangible Media Group

The tangible media group was formed by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, explores the Tangible Bits & Radical Atoms visions  to seamlessly couple the dual world of bits and atoms by giving dynamic physical form to digital information and computation.

Vision driven design research of the Tangible Media Group

“Looking back on the history of HCI, they notice that quantum leaps have rarely resulted from studies on users’ needs; they have instead stemmed from the passion and dreams of visionaries like Douglas Engelbart. By looking beyond current limitations, the group believes that vision-driven design is critical to foster these quantum leaps, while also complementing needs-driven and technology-driven design. From Tangible Bits, an early example of their vision-driven research, they are shifting to Radical Atoms, which seeks out new guiding principles and concepts to view the world of bits and atoms with new eyes, with the goal of trailblazing a new realm in interaction design.

From the three approaches in design research: technology-driven, needs-driven, and vision-driven, they focus on the vision-driven approach due to its lifespan. They know that technologies become obsolete in ~1 year, users’ needs change quickly and dramatically in ~10 years. However, they believe that a clear vision can last beyond our lifespan. While they might need to wait decades before atom hackers (like material scientists or self-organizing nano-robot engineers) can invent the necessary enabling technologies for Radical Atoms, we strongly believe the exploration of interaction design should begin from today.” Tangible Media Group

Context, Significance, Related Works

Hiroshi Ishii, head of the Tangible Media Group (TMG) published an interesting paper in 2008, contextualizing the inForm project in terms of human evolution. In it, he notes that humans have developed “sophisticated skills for sensing and manipulating our physical environment”, yet most of these skills are “not used when interacting with the digital world where interaction is largely confined to graphical user interfaces“ (Ishii 32). He argues that, despite the ubiquity of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) as championed by Microsoft and Apple, there is something greatly lacking in these methods of interaction — that they do not allow us to “take advantage of our evolved dexterity or utilize our skills in manipulating physical objects” (32). That this project addresses these challenges and presents an alternative way to interact with digital content is both fascinating and valuable. It is not the first or only technology to interact with computers in a novel way, but the effect created is almost magical.

If there are other potentially more intuitive technologies that exist, why have they not been adopted? Perhaps the current dominant paradigm of keyboards, mice and increasingly, touchscreens, is to some extent influenced by the market. The assumption that it has to do, at least in part, with economies of scale seems plausible, and perhaps when demand increases enough, more alternative interaction technologies will become available. The tremendous potential of technologies like inForm to harness the incredible ‘touch’ skills humans already possess, speaks to the importance of research in these fields. While inForm was both groundbreaking and unlike anything seen before, there are a number of other projects that relate to the project conceptually.

The following examples will highlight other technologies that deal with interacting with data and virtual objects in unconventional ways.

Haptic Sculpting Device

There is a research lab at the University of Guelph called the Digital Haptic Lab, run by Dr. John Phillips and Christian Giroux. Their lab takes its name from a sculpting device, that provides haptic feedback through small motors, embedded in a multi axis pen type device. As a user uses the tool to ‘sculpt’ an onscreen three dimensional object, the haptic device varies the motor feedback to give the feeling of interacting with a real world object. The effect is almost startling, as one is able to ‘feel’ with the muscles of the hand, a virtual object that is not actually there. This device has a number of research and commercial applications, one of which is the design / sculpting of coins for general circulation.

This device is quite different from inForm in that it represents a virtual object in 3D space without the object actually being there, whereas inForm, as a “shape display”,  actually represents virtual objects as real objects (albeit in a low resolution) with its extendable pin blocks. Although very different, the underlying issues they address are related: how we make virtual and remote objects tangible.

Automotive Design: Still Using Clay

Another striking example of the relationship between technology and tangibility, is the automotive industry’s continued use of clay to model vehicles. Despite access to the best 3D software packages, holography, VR and other cutting edge technology it is still common, even a mandatory  in many design labs to build clay models. Take the following quote from an Wall Street Journal article, one example of many discussing this fascinating phenomena:

Indeed, despite Ford’s use of three-dimensional imaging technology that allows executives to don headsets and see a virtual vehicle in a computer-generated cityscape, the top brass won’t sign off on producing a new car—a decision that can involve spending a billion dollars or more—until they see full-size physical models” (see reference below).

The full-size models the article describes, are made of clay built on an armature and refined using hand held scrapers. For all the utility afforded by new technology, there is something missing in these tools requiring a real human touch, and the ability to see a full size model in the real world. The article notes that it is not a one or the other scenario however, and that 3D modeling is used extensively in the design process. The workflow goes back and forth, working together, and both tools afford special abilities and perceptions.

 

 

Again, this example is very different from the inFOrm project, even more so than the haptic devie. It is presented however, as an example of the importance of tangibility, and real world object. That it is essential even for multinational corporations with huge budgets and access to the latest technology, speaks to the value of what inForm is doing. The inForm project incorporates some of the best of both worlds in a way: The reproducibility and flexibility of the digital world, with the intuitive qualities and space of the analog / ‘real’ world objects.

Other related project:
Kinetic blocks: http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/14/9529947/mit-kinetic-blocks-shape-display-video

Technical overview:  How does it work? sensing method, actuation method, materials, relationship to user and audience

InForm is a dynamic shape display and at the same time it is also a tangible user interface. The key principles behind the interactivity of inForm are dynamic affordances and constraints. This is implemented through haptics, actuated affordances, actuation of physical objects etc. By mimicking familiar interfaces from tangible and physical domains, the inFOrm interface invites and encourage the user to interact with it. By providing constraints on these interactions the user input can be measured and used to control other actions.

The device consists of a shape display with rectangular pins, each controlled by a linear actuator, a kinect to sense depth information, a projector to display data. When used as a communication device both end users will have a set of theses components.

Each pin of the shape display can be individually moved using the linear actuators. The movement of these actuators are controlled using arduino chips. But the depth calculation and other calculations are done on an external computer. The linear actuator mechanism also employ PID controllers to detect and keep track of the position of pins and to provide accurate motion with continuous error correction.

The depth information is calculated from the depth image stream of kinect and is mapped to the movement range of the shape display pins. The projector is used for the visual feedbacks.

 

References/Bibliography

http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform

@wsjeyesonroad. “One Thing Isn’t New in Car Design: Clay Prototypes.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.

Ishii, Hiroshi. “The Tangible User Interface and Its Evolution.” Communications of the ACM 51.6 (2008): 32. Web.

Ishii, Hiroshi. “Materiable: Rendering Dynamic Material Properties in Response to Direct Physical Touch with Shape Changing Interfaces.” http://tmg-trackr.media.mit.edu/publishedmedia/Papers/598-Materiable%20Rendering%20Dynamic%20Material/Published/PDF

Ishii, Hiroshi. “TRANSFORM: Embodiment of “Radical Atoms” at Milano Design Week.” http://tmg-trackr.media.mit.edu/publishedmedia/Papers/554-TRANSFORM%20Embodiment%20of%20Radical/Published/PDF

Ishii, Hiroshi. “Radical Atoms: Beyond Tangible Bits, Toward Transformable Materials.” http://tmg-trackr.media.mit.edu/publishedmedia/Papers/485-Radical%20Atoms%20Beyond%20Tangible/Published/PDF

 

 

 

 

OptiTune

Title: OptiTune

Group members: Nana, Ginger, Jeffin

Code: https://github.com/jeff-in/visualizer/blob/master/optitune

Video: https://vimeo.com/195742513

https://vimeo.com/195900950

End of session report form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScYtcUHOisW-cRpMRChXUwvzfECQ86sx5AraUiFuxYtsdoJAw/viewform?c=0&w=1

Data collected: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qDAdw28VxTC8LjGghtS2fVy7nuEwH92aJPYlenbDOWg/edit?usp=sharing

Item price list: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zHBtic3kez1F6UK0COSJLrJF5MW41BQQMshA4U6wR5g/edit?usp=sharing

What is the concept behind OptiTune?

Restoring the connection of an individual who has headphones on with other individuals, through displaying real time visualizations of what the user is listening to.

What is the form?

A 3 inch cylinder that lights up according to the beat of your music.

How does it work?

You can either plug in your headset and have the lights turn on according to your playlist, or take the headset out and have OptiTune visualize the sounds surrounding you.

What materials does it use?

  1. Arduino micro
  2. 3.5 mm audio jack (x2)
  3. 3.5 mm audio cable
  4. 100k resistor (x3)
  5. Porto board
  6. PCB mount pins
  7. Portable USB charger

Preparations

What needs to be done ahead of time?

  • Create prototype
    • Set up the board with NeoPixel and microphone
    • Sewing the prototype into a badge
    • Constructing circuit and decorate the badge
  • Charge battery pack

Do you need extra batteries?

  • We have decided to use old phone batteries

What goes into your repair kit?

  • Fabric, thread and needle, battery charger

During Process:

First of all, we will document our user experience on using the the optune. And also select a group of testers to try it. We will document the process by vedio and writing notes.

Secondly, we will carry on our stuff and test it in a daily life. We will take notes regularly and also take selfies at different locations. We will be observing other people’s reactions to us playing the Optune, and we will collect  quantitative data like how many times does people inquiry our product.

Crunching the data

How will you structure a debriefing conversation?

  • Meet for a debriefing conversation, and take notes

What will you do with the data and media once you find it?

  • Look for improvements for future iterations
  • What was liked about the device?
  • What was not like about the device?
  • Was the device comfortable?

Where did you place your OptiTune?

We mostly put it next to our laptops when we were working on our projects at school. It was a fun and playful object that made stressful times entertaining.

What did you like about OptiTune?

Looking at the beautiful lights! Especially in the dark when the lights are off, or when you are taking a walk outside. It really is beautiful and exciting to see the music you are listening to.

What did you dislike about OptiTune?

The case, and the wires.

For future iterations we will have a case that can not only keep the device safe and waterproof but can easily be attached to anything.

How was the experience of the observers of your OptiTune?

We were on campus most of the time. So many of the people who passed us by were students. The fun part was when we were visiting the undergraduate buildings and the students would ask us if we had bought them from the OCAD store. Ofcourse, with pride we told them that we had made them as part of our project.optituneposter optizine_p_page_1 optizine_p_page_3optizine_p_page_4optizine_p_page_5 optizine_p_page_6_mg_3127_mg_3086

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timesUp

Group Members

Shreeya Tyagi | Orlando Bascunan | Afrooz Samaei

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Introduction

timesUp is a minimal and stylish wearable timer that is designed to increase the productivity of the user. It can be worn on the wrist as a bracelet or hung from the neck in the form of a necklace. It features a timer which breaks down working time into intervals of 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of break, or as we call it “play” time. Once the time is up the device notifies the user by a short vibration and blink of an LED. 

The project was developed based on Pomodoro time management technique, introduced by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The goal of this product is to encourage the users to commit to a set of work and play time intervals and help them maximize their efficiency and minimize the distractions. In addition, taking short, scheduled breaks while working eliminates the “running on fumes” feeling that users get when they have pushed themselves too hard, leading to a more productive day.

 

 

The product includes a vibration notification system, an LED notification system, and also a button to activate the commands.

The instructions to use the product is as following:

  • Press and hold the button to Start or Stop the timer.

          – Start is notified as a single vibration

          – Stop is notified as double vibrations

           When it’s time to take a break or get back to work the device will notify you by 3 vibrations and the blink of the LED.

 

  • Press the button to check the amount of time left on the timer. The LED will flash 3 times:

          – Slowly if within the first half of the interval

          – Fast if within the second half of the interval

 

  • Press the button to toggle between Work time (45 minutes) & Play time (15 minutes)

          – Work mode is displayed with two slow blinks of the LED

          – Play mode is displayed with two fast blinks of the LED

 

Context

For many people, time is an enemy. The anxiety triggered by “the ticking clock”, in particular when a deadline is involved, leads to ineffective work and study behavior which in turn elicits the tendency to procrastinate. The Pomodoro Technique was created with the aim of using time as a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do the way we want to do it, and to empower us to continually improve our work or study processes.

The Pomodoro Technique is founded on three basic assumptions (Francesco Cirillo):  

  • A different way of seeing time (no longer focused on the concept of becoming) alleviates anxiety and in doing so leads to enhanced personal effectiveness.  
  • Better use of the mind enables us to achieve greater clarity of thought, higher consciousness, and sharper focus, all the while facilitating learning.
  • Employing easy-to-use, unobtrusive tools reduces the complexity of applying the technique, while favoring continuity, and allows you to concentrate your efforts on the activities you want to accomplish. Many time management techniques fail because they subject the people who use them to a higher level of added complexity with respect to the intrinsic complexity of the task at hand.

In order to develop this project, we considered ourselves as the potential users and thought of our daily challenges and needs in order to build a personalized product. All three of us were concerned with our time and how we manage it. Hence, we decided to build a product that helps us keep a better track of time passage while eliminating the distractions caused by traditional or phone alarms. 

Design and Production Process

Since the goal of timesUp is to minimize the distractions, whether caused by the user or by other people, we wanted the product to be as invisible as possible, in a way that it does not draw the user’s attention towards itself and also does not invite others to inquire about it. This main principle formed many of our design decisions. For instance, there is no visual sign, such as lights, indicating that the device is running, in order to minimize the attention drawn by the device. However, the user can still check the time passed or make sure the device is running by pressing the button and watching different blinking modes of the LED. 

In order to better user test different forms of the product and come up with the best design solution as we compare them, we decided to build three distinct products, while keeping the aesthetics, design choices, and functionality identical among the three objects. This gave the wearable flexibility and comfort along with ease of use. We built a bracelet and two different necklaces.

 

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We used 3D printing to build the prototypes. The main reasons behind choosing 3D printing was firstly because of its rapidness and low cost, which enabled us to do multiple iterations of the product and try different forms, before coming up with a final solution. Secondly, the light weight of the plastic made it a perfect choice for the material of this particular wearable product, as comfort should be a key feature of both the bracelet and the necklace.

The 3D printer we used was the MakerBot Replicator 2 and the polymer material filament was PLA (Poly Lactic Acid). After creating a range of textural vocabulary, we printed multiple disks with different textures and stacked and glued them on top of each other. There is a little slit cut on the side of the products that allows USB connection, in case the battery dies in the middle of a work session or in case a new code should be uploaded to the microcontroller.

The artistic details/forms of the product were explored in Autodesk Fusion 360. These were based on contemporary jewelry, which worked to our advantage since we were able to use the device in our everyday lives without the device attracting much attention in public workspace.

 

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The circuit used in timesUp is identical among all the three prototypes. It consists of a mini vibrator motor, an LED, and a button, all connected to Gemma microcontroller. The reason behind choosing Gemma was mainly because of its small size and low cost. Although some features of the Gemma such as not having a serial port made it difficult to debug the code, it overall provided the functionality that we were looking for. In addition to the above components, we also used diodes to protect the components against reverse or negative voltage, transistors used as amplifiers, and also two 1K resistors. 

circuit-diagram_bb

 

Here is a complete list of all the components used:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17sHo2XsYTJYVaqCtRQAXoin2ELTBKjEZiLoTEISM1jQ/edit?usp=sharing

Link to the Code: https://github.com/obascunan/timesUp/blob/master/timesup.ino

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User Testing Process

After building and integrating the circuit into the 3D printed objects, we tested the timer by setting the alarm to vibrate after one-minute intervals, in order to make sure that the timing and notifications work perfectly. We then set the alarm to vibrate 45 minutes after starting the test, indicating the start of the break, followed by another vibration after 15 minutes, showing the end of the break. Since the goal of our product was to keep the user focused and away from any possible distractions, we took notes and wrote down any significant comments on a piece of paper during the 15-minute breaks. After the user testing session was done, we filled up the following questionnaire:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1fQS3xAJj5mSP7VG-xqpt2jwTUKIn6LCJoDFf-msvjWw/edit

Overall, the product felt comfortable and familiar. Although some of the notifications were confusing sometimes, the overall experience was smooth and straight forward. The bracelet version was more reliable in term of detecting the vibration notifications compared to the necklaces, as we noticed that it was sometimes hard to feel the vibrations of the necklace. Unexpected challenges were to isolate from water as the enclosure is firm but permeable. 

The link above contains the results of our responses to the user testing questionnaires. The image below also shows some of the highlights of these results.

 

Instructions Handout
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Challenges, Outcomes, and Future Iterations

The timesUp wearable is designed to help with time management and increasing focus level while working or studying. Although we found it challenging to commit to the designated time intervals at first, we realized that this product could help us gradually increase our efficiency and minimize distractions, when using it over a longer period of time.

The main challenge was to integrate the commands such that the product is equipped with different functionalities, while maintaining simplicity. It was challenging to play with various functionalities that the combination of a button, LED and vibrator could provide, in a way that they become intuitive to the user after a while.

The other difficult aspect of the project was the size of the product. The goal was to make the product simple, light, and relatively small. Hence, we spent a considerable amount of time carefully soldering the delicate components we were using and stacking them on top of each other such that they occupy the minimum amount of space.

For future iterations, we would like to make the On/Off switch on the gemma accessible to use. This would make the interactions with the device simpler as we could save the “holding button” action to switch between work and rest mode, and use the “pressing” action to check the time. A charging module or a disposable battery would make it easier for the user to keep the device running as the gemma doesn’t charge batteries. In addition, housing the button inside the device and using the the whole display to touch and press it could give a more sleek look to the product, as pressing the button is the only interaction needed from the user. Lastly, insulating from the water seemed relevant to do for the wrist piece, as it is in the splashing radius when washing hands/dishes.

 

References

Cirillo, Francesco. The Pomodoro Technique: Do More and Have Fun with Time Management. Berlin: FC Garage, 2013. Print.

https://learn.adafruit.com/buzzing-mindfulness-bracelet/overview

http://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/re-vibe-anti-distraction-wearable/

https://www.makerbot.com/replicator/

http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/overview

YES WE CAN BOX

 

project title
Yes I Can Box

names of group of members

Afaq Ahmed Karadia

– Nadine Lessio

Thoreau Bakker

Concept:
The ‘Yes I Can Box’ is a simple tool for reducing anxiety. This portable device is intended as a coping mechanism, providing self soothing immersive light on demand at the push of a button. It delights the eye with a range of colour washes and patterns, and this delight is amplified when shared with others.

The concept is both a practical solution during and from the outcome of our research. Our team consolidated a direction for hardware relatively early in the twelve day cycle, but experienced increasing tension while trying to reach consensus about the marrying of concept to code. Frequency of events and what those events represented, consistency of home vs school network access, and trying to do justice to the twin eight hour formats, were all factors influencing our struggles. For these reasons, we decided to keep the concept simple, and really focus on the execution of the build parameters — making a rugged circuit and polished portable device, fully functional and ready for our user testing.

While the concept is simple, it speaks to an important issue. Most of us experience some level anxiety on a weekly — if not daily — basis, and we would argue an important factor in mental health is the way we deal with these challenges. The tools we use (psychological, physical, social) are acquired as navigate life. Some are taught to us as children, some we learn from our environment. Some coping tools are healthy (talking with friends, exercise), while others are not (substance abuse, self harm).

We are not psychologists and have neither the experience nor the visions of grandeur to promote this as a ‘solution’. This project is just a small gesture both to ourselves and to the world — a simple and delightful portable device that elicits a real (if fleeting) moment of comfort and pleasure.

 

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project description, including overview of object and intended context and users

Human thinking is accompanied by a variety of subjective experiences, including moods and emotions, metacognitive feelings (like ease of recall or fluency of perception), and bodily sensations. A new interpretation is given to the controversy over emotions by identifying the conscious differentiating aspect of the emotions with the feelings. Four differentiable feelings are recognized: pain-unpleasantness, pleasure-pleasantness, excitement, and depression. In accord with the Cannon theory, the anatomical seat of these processes is assumed to be projection areas of the thalamus. Pain and unpleasantness are assumed to differ only in degree, as are also pleasure and pleasantness. The characteristic tone of the emotions is supposed therefore to result from these affective components. This would account for the failure to find visceral or behavioral differentia for the emotions, and would not throw the whole burden of differentiation on the perception of the stimulus situation

The relations of emotion and feeling is connected together to formulate and human action these action can be any things such as modes and senses, emotional variations. This project is reaction to daily emotions and feelings.

Video Link:

Device Images:

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production materials
Wood
Acrylic
Silicon Wire
Proto Board

feather huzzah

NeoPIxel Stick

Design Process :

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BIlls of Material: 

FEATHER HUZZAH WITH ESP8266 WIFI*** FEATH-002821 Adafruit / Creatron 24.5 3 73.5 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/feather-huzzah-with-esp8266-wifi/?search_query=huzzah&results=4
8 RGB WS2812 ADDRESSABLE STICK* LEDRG-012668 Adafruit / Creatron 6.95 3 20.85 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/8-rgb-ws2812-addressable-stick/?search_query=neopixel+stick&results=1
26AWG SILICONE WIRE – RED* WIRSI-001877 Creatron 2.25 1 2.25 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/26awg-silicone-wire-red/
26AWG SILICONE WIRE – BLACK* WIRSI-001881 Creatron 2.25 1 2.25 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/26awg-silicone-wire-black/?search_query=silicon+wire&results=13
26AWG SILICONE WIRE – YELLOW* WIRSI-001879 Creatron 2.25 1 2.25 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/26awg-silicone-wire-yellow/?search_query=silicon+wire&results=13
LITHIUM ION BATTERY – 850MAH* UBATT-008481 Creatron 15.55 3 46.65 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/lithium-ion-battery-850mah/
16.5 X 11CM PROTOTYPING BOARD WITH TRACE PCBDA-990020 Creatron 6.4 3 19.2 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/165-x-11cm-prototyping-board-with-trace11/
SMALL SPDT SLIDE SWITCH* SWSLI-009609 Creatron 1.1 3 3.3 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/small-spdt-slide-switch/
1/4W 5% RESISTOR (10 PACK)*** RESIS-500025 Creatron 0.25 1 0.25 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/14w-5-resistor-10-pack/
16MM MOMENTARY SWITCH – PANEL MOUNT SWPUS-001445 Creatron 1.65 3 4.95 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/16mm-momentary-switch-panel-mount/
SUB TOTAL 175.45
TAX RATE 0.15
TAX 26.3175
SHIPPING 0 (items are in Toronto)
TOTAL 201.7675

Final circuit diagram:

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Final Code:

https://github.com/sharkwheels/CC_portables

BUILDING PROCESS:

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User testing materials:

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User testing plan

Devices have a built in charging circuit. So they don’t need extra batteries, but they do need to be fully charged before starting.

For a repair kit we’re going to need:

→ micro screwdriver to unscrew it if needed.
→ electrical tape, in case a connection busts.
→ micro USB charging cable

During Field Testing:

Most of our data collection during will be personal journaling (maybe just one entry). The goal of this box is to help relieve anxiety, so writing a journal entry about how we were feeling, what else is happening in our lives, and how external things are affecting

link to end-of-session report forms
http://tinyurl.com/portablesForm

link to data collected

 

VIDEO LINKS

TESTING PROCESS : 

Devices have a built in charging circuit. So they don’t need extra batteries, but they do need to be fully charged before starting. The connections are female headers attached straight to the summary of the testing process

ather vs a proto board. For a repair kit we’re going to need:

→ micro screwdriver to unscrew it if needed.

→ electrical tape, in case a connection busts.

→ micro USB charging cable to charge if low

Before photos will be of the assembled device, fully charged.

During:

Most of our data collection during will be personal journaling. The goal of this box is to help relieve stress, so writing a daily journal will be about how we were feeling, what else is happening in our lives, and how external things are affecting you.

End of Session Report

→  how would you describe your general emotional disposition?

→  how do you generally cope with anxiety?

→  what were your expectations before using the device?

→  how many times do you think you used the button today?

→  what situations did you find yourself mostly using the button in?

→  Did it improve your mood or help?

→  Did it break / did you have to repair it?

→  Do you think it could be helpful to others?

Crunching Data

Debriefing convo:

→ Round table talk about what worked form wise and what didn’t

→ How the device got in the way of the day or didn’t.

→ Did we end up using the device for a different purpose that its intended use?

→ Did it actually help us?

What will you do w/ the media collected:

→ Probably throw together a small mini site or blog w/ journaling and pictures.

Build Issues
Some of the issues we ran into code wise were mostly related to libraries not playing nice with one another. Originally this item was going to be networked, but it was discovered that the Adafruit IO rest library intereferred with the neopixels / neopattern non-blocking option due to a re-connection script running the background. A work around is still being looked at. Other build issues were related mostly to switch placement. Because the project flip flopped a bit, considerations on where to put an off switch, have the recharge connection facing out, or a panel button were done somewhat on the fly. But our case design was modular so as a first run, it worked out in the end. There were also some parts related consistency issues around what was available locally. For example: difference in size of Adafruit branded pixel strips and non-branded pixel strips.

references & related works

Related Works:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58pxJ8z1Vow

Form Studies:

e792b5278ddf1cee5888992cf320fdd8 09cf7aea7bdee522935feccecd3c1713 5d1528af6aed840e75b831df57710201 2a7a74c1fe2b6936a6caf4da4ad946d6

Everyday Carry:

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Hot Feet

Experiment 5 -Bijun Chen, Masha Karimi, Katie Micak

 

HOT FEET

DESCRIPTION:

When faced with the challenge of Experiment 5- multiples, we were most interested in creating a prototype that could be built upon in a practical way. Our goal was to also create something which could have a use beyond the classroom. “Hot Feet” was born out of the spirit of giving. Ideally, this giving would be to those who are unfortunate to spend more time than comfortable out in the cold, namely those that are homeless (though there could be many other applications or users).

 

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Hot Feet is a shoe that offers battery powered heat by closing a simple circuit. It consists of one battery that sends a charge first through the right shoe (which holds the battery) and then sends it to the left shoe, turning on both heating pads found in the insole of each shoe. The circuit is completed when the shoes are put together at two points of contact, positive and negative. After a few seconds both shoes will begin to heat up, and the battery will not be active if this circuit is not closed resulting in neither shoe creating warmth.

CONCEPT:

In creating Hot Feet we wanted to create a warming shoe that would:

  1. Be simple to use
  2. Ran off of a rechargeable battery
  3. Would be inexpensive
  4.  Could be easily replicated
  5. Inconspicuous in design
  6.  Safe and durable

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PART LIST/ COSTS:

Our total costs for 3 prototypes is around $220.00, with the highest expenses going towards the shoes and the batteries.

Part Name Quantity Cost for Each Supplier Cost Total Cost Total with Tax Link:
Shoes 3 pairs 20 Payless Shoes 60 67.8
Heating Pad 6 7.4 Creatron inc 44.4 50.17 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/5v-heating-pad-5x10cm/?search_query=heat&results=84
Conductive Fabric 1 piece14*12″ 19 Creatron inc 19 21.47 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/conductive-fabric-14×12/?search_query=conductive+&results=40
Conductive Thread 1 * 30ft roll 4.85 Creatron inc 4.85 5.48 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/conductive-thread-30ft/
LITHIUM BATTERY – 1200mah 3 17.85 Creatron inc 53.55 60.51 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/lithium-ion-battery-1200mah/?search_query=lithium+battery&results=28
Felt 1 pack 3 Dollarama 3 3.39
30awg Silicone Wire – 2M 2 pack 1.8 Creatron inc 3.6 4.07 https://www.creatroninc.com/product/30awg-silicone-wire-green/?search_query=silicon+wire&results=13
Regular thread and needles 1 box 3 Dollarama 3 3.39
Total cost: 216.28

 

 

BUILDING PROCESS:

Each person purchased a shoe that reflected their preference. Our hope was to create a prototype that could be integrated into multiple shoe designs regardless of the show structure. The shows purchased were: a running shoe, a winter boot with faux fur lining, and a casual high heel with laces.

                                     img_0638

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Once purchased we each created insoles that would contain the heating pads and created a thin boundary between the pad and the foot of the wearer. All wires were connected using simple sodered connections and conductive thread. We created the switches on the outside shoe, and sewed conductive thread from the inside to the outside of the structure at points were the feet naturally lined up and made contact.  The thread on the outside would be create the connection over both shoes and complete the circuit.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-12-32-31-am                                

 

CONNECTIONS/ ISSUES:

The Connections inside of the shoes were loose. Loose connections inside of the shoes had higher resistance than the actual heating pads ( P = VI = RII ) which resulted in the connections heating up more than the actual pads to the point that the heat was not bearable anymore. These heating pads require a lot of power to run and also their temperature can go as high as 60 C degrees. Running them in series requires less battery usage and also brought down the heating pads temperature to a more bearable heat. Hence we had less energy waste. If the connections are done perfectly, these shoes should function even in rain since the resistance of water over felt (material that the shoes are made out of) is higher than the resistance in conductive fabric and conductive thread. Therefore the currents would still run through the path with lower resistance. The placement of the battery on these shoes were very crucial. our initial design paced the battery somewhere on the outer side of the shoes to make sure no interfering with the comfort of the wearer’s feet. However cold weather also interferes with the battery performance. Our challenge was to find the best location for the battery inside of the shoes where it is still comfortable to be worn. Having the battery inside of the shoe resulted in the battery staying at a temperature range which prevents it from discharging quickly.

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-12-35-31-am

 

First Image shows the parallel circuit diagram and the second shows the series circuit diagram.

POWER In the parallel format there will be a bigger power supplied to both pads. In the series diagram there will be less power supplies. hence the series diagram is more power efficient.

HEAT higher heat produced by the pads due to higher resistance there will be less heat produced by the pads.

MATERIAL Parallel diagram needs at least three points of contact to perform therefore more material to connect/wire the three conductive fabric switches on each shoe. Series diagram needs at least 2 points of contact to perform hence less material usage.

EFFICIENCY In the parallel circuit if one part disconnects the other part still performs, whereas in the series circuit it is required for all parts to be connected and perform ignorer for the entire circuit to work.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-12-55-05-am                           screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-12-55-18-am

 

SURVEY/ RESULTS:

Three users would wear the shoes for 16 hours, or two days, for the duration of the experiment. Although the prototype worked correctly, each user had different reported experiences.

Katie’s shoe worked well (at first). Heated up to a comfortable warmth quickly. Was comfortable. Day two the circuit got overloaded and caused a burn on her foot- she had to remove her shoe quickly.

Mahsa had a similar experience. Her shoe worked for quite a few hours before the connections got strained and she also received a burn on her foot, while in public.

Bijun’s shoes worked the whole time. Her connections were sound. Her biggest issue was recharging the battery, which she did do only once. The reason her show was probably successful the longest

 

SURVEY:    We created this quick survey to cover the main points of Hot Feet.

MAHSA’S RESULTS:

img_3777

Did Heated Insoles work?  Yes

How comfortable is the shoe? (1 less comfortable- 10 most comfortable)  8

Did the battery last?  Yes

Did you have to recharge the battery? Yes

If yes, how many times/ how long did it take?  I charged the battery once after the first day of experiment (first 8 hours) were over.

Do you think “Heated Insoles” would work keep feet warm for people spending long periods of time outdoors?  Yes

Did Heated Insoles warm up your feet?  Yes – and my feet stayed warm long after I took my feet apart.

How warm were your feet? (1 coldest – 10 hottest)  7

What would you change?

I would change the material that the insole was made out off. The felt insoles were too thin to hold their shape and were moving around inside of the shoes.

The Connections inside of the shoes were loose. Loose connections inside of the shoes had higher resistance than the actual heating pads ( P = VI = RI 2 ) which resulted in the connections heating up more than the actual pads to the point that the heat was not bearable anymore.

The choice of having the pads running in a series circuit worked well. These heating pads require a lot of power to run and also their temperature can go as high as 60 C degrees.

Running them in series requires less battery usage and also brought down the heating pads temperature to a more bearable heat. Hence we had less energy waste.

If the connections are done perfectly, these shoes should function even in rain since the resistance of water over felt (material that the shoes are made out of) is higher than the resistance in conductive fabric and conductive thread. Therefore the currents would still run through the path with lower resistance.

How helpful was the repair kit?

The repair kit was very handy. It consisted of:

  1. Conductive Thread
  2. Conductive Fabric
  3. Aluminum Foil
  4. electric Tape to go over possible loose connections

 

BIJUN’S RESULTS:

img_3778

Did Heated Insoles work? Yes

How comfortable is the shoe? (1 less comfortable- 10 most comfortable) 6

Did the battery last? Yes

Did you have to recharge the battery? Yes

If yes, how many times/ how long did it take? Once, exchanged to another battery

Do you think “Heated Insoles” would work keep feet warm for people spending long periods of time outdoors? Yes

Did Heated Insoles warm up your feet? Yes

How warm were your feet? (1 coldest – 10 hottest)  8

What would you change?

The number one thing I would change is the material of the insole, the one I had (felt) cannot handle daily wear and tear, it looked very nice before putting into the boots. I guess that is something we have not considered well. Secondly, I would change the style of the boots. I think my other teammates suffered less when they made theirs. Mine is very tall and has no opening, and it makes it extremely difficult to work with the insole and the connection part in the bottom; and for the top connection conductive fabric, it’s easier to work with, but I can feel the wires when wearing those. I believe the better solution to this problem would be to start / hack the boots with a zipper/button or any kind of opening in the back or side.

Using boots is a good idea because they are more likely to be worn during cold weather, with the heating pad.

How helpful was the repair kit?

It is very helpful! Electric tapes were unexpectedly helpful.

 

KATIE’S RESULTS:

img_3776

Did Heated Insoles work? Yes

How comfortable is the shoe? (1 less comfortable- 10 most comfortable) 7

Did the battery last? Yes

Did you have to recharge the battery? No

If yes, how many times/ how long did it take?  N/A

Do you think “Heated Insoles” would work keep feet warm for people spending long periods of time outdoors? Yes

Did Heated Insoles warm up your feet? Yes

How warm were your feet? (1 coldest – 10 hottest) 7

What would you change?

On the second day the when I put my feet together the heating pads turned on very quickly. After about 5 mins (and once the circuit was broken) I started to feel a slight shock or burn. It was in my right shoe, the same shoe with the battery. So it was a unsafe in its current design.

I would change a lot about construction- probably make the wires stronger or embed them in the shoe. Also create a shoe that was fire resistant.

How helpful was the repair kit?

It was helpful, but I did not use it as I was not confident that my repairs would be safe.

 

img_3773

POSSIBLE NEXT ITERATION:

Our results concluded that this type of shoe could possibly be safely, durably and successfully constructed. It could be created to be hooked into existing shoes, or be a whole new shoe in itself. I found this project to be successful simply because we did create a functional prototype that could find legs and multiple uses in the real world.

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Video for HOT FEET:

 

 

Documentary on the making of HOT FEET:

 

 

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Fluorescence

Group members: Ania, Samaa, Sara

Fluorescence on Int Var Void webpage

Project Description

Fluorescence is an investigation into wearable technology: how it is made, how to wear it, and how the public responds to it. The goal of the project is to create a fashion accessory that is aesthetically pleasing, but that pushes the boundaries of ‘normal’ clothing. We created three warm, soft scarves with a technological twist — they light up in the dark.

It was important to the group to create a wearable that was beautiful — something that would inspire joy in the wearer and the people around them. The idea of a flower-shaped scarf grew from a discussion on how flowers respond to light in nature. A photoresistor seemed like the right fit, and we decided on a scarf because it mirrors the shape of an abstract flower —  the bulk of the fabric represents the stem, the LED lights represent the stigma and the hanging tassels are the flower petals.

We did not want to jam technology into something that doesn’t really need it. Instead, we carefully placed the LEDs in a subtle position that accentuates the natural beauty of flowers. There are practical benefits to have LEDs in a scarf: wearers become more visible to drivers when they are walking or cycling at night, and when the petals are ‘pulled back’ the scarf can double as a flashlight. But our focus was foremost on aesthetics. We wanted to create someone attention-grabbing, thought-provoking and at the same time covetable by a wide-range of people.

We made the scarves different colours to match each group member’s personal style. Each member chose the base colour of her scarf and the size and colour of her flowers.  At first, we were all a bit hesitant to jump on the subway and go to grocery store wearing LED lights, but after a few compliments later it became very enjoyable and we all agree that we would like to continue wearing the light-up scarves beyond the scope of this project. Based on the feedback we received, we conclude that the world is ready for joyful light-up scarves.

Production Materials

Per person:

  • 2 x scarves (cut at an angle – see diagram below – and “leaves” made of same fabric sewn on for texture)
  • 4 x fake flowers
  • 4 x large white diffuse LED
  • 1 x light dependent resistor
  • 1 x 10k resistor
  • 4m silicon wire
  • 1 x Arduino micro
  • 1 x proto board
  • 1 x USB battery pack

Bill of Materials: link

Design Files

4f8774b8-ed49-4b84-ab8d-e05acca816a5

design

flow

Circuit

img_3861

Code: link.

User Testing Plan

Preparations

  • Create scarves
    • Embedding LEDs inside flowers
    • Sewing wires into scarf
    • Constructing circuit and attaching breadboard to scarf
  • Charge battery pack
  • We have decided to use portable USB chargers
  • We chose this in order to simplify the process of charging the batteries every day, and to limit the costs and the number of lithium batteries that we use

Repair kit

  • Stitch undoer, thread and needle, tape, a cord to charge the battery

During 

  • We will be observing other people’s reactions to us wearing the scarves, but we will not be collecting any quantitative data
  • We will keep a daily journal and note down what people’s reactions are
  • We will also include photos and videos in this journal/documentation
    • We will take selfies each hour to document the condition of the scarves
    • We will also ask other people (in short video clips) what they think of our scarves
    • Although there will not be complete consistency throughout, we will approach the photos and videos with the same intention and framework

Crunching the data

  • After all three of us have completed our user testing each day, we will meet for a debriefing conversation, and we will record this session
  • We will follow a conversational, unstructured format where we talk about what we enjoyed and did not enjoy about the experience
  • We can see which experiences we had in common, and discuss future iterations or changes we would make to the scarves
    • Try to find patterns in our experiences
    • Draw conclusions on how people view and digest electronic wearables.
      • Is it viewed with hesitation and hostility or will people enjoy seeing it?
      • See what sorts of improvements we could make in future iterations

Process Journal

Once we had decided on the scope of our project, we identified the materials that we needed. We bought scarves and fake flowers from Chinatown, a selection of LEDs from Creatron, as well as 7 metres of silicon wire. We already had protoboards, LDRs, resistors, and Arduinos in our kits.

Using examples from the Arduino website, we constructed a circuit on a breadboard using our components, initially using two resistors – one for the LED and one for the LDR. We realized that the brightness of the LED was affected by the 10k resistor, so we decided to remove it.

img_3876

The selection of LEDs we bought were different colours and created different “effects”, including ‘bright’, ‘super bright’ and ‘diffuse.’ We also planned to use different colours – red, yellow, and white – and tested the different LEDs to see which ones looked best. Ultimately we chose the ‘diffuse’ effect, and we realized that the different coloured LEDs all had different voltage, so we decided to simplify the circuit by using only white diffuse LEDs.

img_3884

To create the “light bulb” in the flower we soldered 50cm of silicon wire to each of the white LEDs, and then put a blob of hot glue between the legs of the LED so that the positive and negative currents would remain separate. We soldered 50cm of silicon wire to the LDR as well. We then replicated the circuit from the breadboard onto each of our protoboards which we had cut in half to fit inside the pocket in our scarves.

We split the flowers into “left” and “right” sides, two flowers for each side. We soldered the negative wires together, and then the positive wires together, for both flowers on each of the sides. We then soldered these wires to the protoboard to complete the circuit. We secured the connections with electrical tape.

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After we had finalized our circuits, we started “building” on the scarf. We had two scarves each which we cut in a parallelogram shape, as per our design, and used the second scarf to cut out “leaf” shaped pieces which were sewn to the first scarf to create texture.

img_3874

We then sewed the wires of the flowers into the scarf to hide them. We sewed the LDR wire into the scarf as well, but placed the LDR in a visible location near the bottom, where the scarf would hang around our neck. We chose this placement so that the LDR would not get obstructed by our hair or bags, and would be able to sense the brightness of the space we were in.

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Finally, we attached the USB battery pack to the Arduino to test that everything was working.

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When it was confirmed that the circuit was responding to external brightness, we were satisfied with the technological development of the scarves, and moved on to our user testing phase. Our results are below.

User Testing Results

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Media Gathered

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References

LED fashion is becoming a popular topic in the fashion world.  We were inspired by “Cute Circuit” and also Ronnie Brust’s designs.

http://illuminatedcouture.com/about/

“With great pleasure comes great responsibility” – Brust.

Fashion pieces such as our scarf and Ronnie Brust’s designs need maintenance because they use an external power source. It was interesting to go through his website to see that he sells power banks with his pieces. He also has a Product Care Instructions page

Minimaforms Petting Zoo

Case Study by Orlando Bascuñán, Bijun Chen

Presentation

General Overview:

Minimaforms was founded in 2002 by brothers Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos as an experimental architecture and design practice. Using design as a mode of enquiry, the studio explores architecture and design than can enable new forms of communication. Embracing a generative and behavioral approach the studio develops open systems that construct participatory and interactive frameworks that engage the everyday.

Pushing the boundaries of art, architecture and design the work of Minimaforms is interdisciplinary and forward thinking exploring digital design and fabrication along with communication technologies seeking to construct spaces of social and material interaction. In 2010, Minimaforms was nominated for the International Chernikhov Prize in architecture. In 2008 their project Memory Cloud was named one of the top ten international public art installations by the Guardian.

Recent projects include two thematic pier landmarks and the illumination concept for a Renzo Piano’s master planned 760 acre National Park in Athens, a large scale land art work in Norway, a vehicle in collaboration with artist Krzysztof Wodiczko, a behavior based robotic installation for the FRAC Centre and immersive ephemeral environment for the city of Detroit. The work of Minimaforms is in the permanent collections of the FRAC Centre (France), the Signum Foundation (Poland) and the Archigram Archive (UK). In 2008 their project Memory Cloud was named one of the top ten international art installations by the Telegraph. Recent exhibitions have included work shown at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Detroit Institute of Arts, ICA (London), FRAC Centre (France), Futura Gallery (Prague), Slovak National Gallery (Bratislava), and the Architecture Foundation (UK). They have been featured in international media including BBC, BBC radio, Robert Elms Show, Wired Magazine, Fast Company, Guardian, Blueprint, and Icon Magazine. They were named Creative Review’s “One to Watch.”

Petting Zoo FRAC Centre

Petting Zoo is the latest work developed by experimental architecture and design studio Minimaforms. The project is speculative life-like robotic environment that raises questions of how future environments could actively enable new forms of communication with the everyday. Artificial intelligent creatures have been designed with the capacity to learn and explore behaviors through interaction with participants. Within this immersive installation interaction with the pets foster human curiosity, play, forging intimate exchanges that are emotive and evolving over time. Beyond technology the project explores new forms of enabled communication between people and their environment.

The installation exhibits life-like attributes through forms of conversational interaction establishing communication with users that is emotive and sensorial. Conceived as an immersive installation environment, social and synthetic forms of systemic interactions allow the pets to engage and evolve their behaviors over time. Pets interact and stimulate participation with users through the use of animate behaviors communicated through kinesis, sound and illumination. These behaviors evolve over time through interaction enabling each pet to develop personalities. Pet interactions are stimulated through interaction with human users or between other pets within the population. Intimacy and curiosity are explored as enabling agents that externalize personal experience through forms of direct visual, haptic and aural communication.
Early historical experiments that examine similar issues can be found in the seminal cybernetic work of the Senster developed by the British cybernetic sculptor, Edward Ihnatowicz, Gordon Pask’s The Colloquy of Mobiles, and Walter Gray Walter’s first electronic autonomous robots (Tortoises) called Elmer and Elsie. Petting Zoo continues Minimaforms ongoing research in participatory and enabling frameworks examining cybernetic and behavior based design systems that can be found in other works of theirs like Becoming Animal exhibited in MoMA’s Talk To Me show and Memory Cloud: Detroit (2011) ICA London (2008).

Behaviors
Internal patterns of observation allow the pets to synchronize movements and behavioral responses. Through active proto-typing a correlated digital / analogue feedback has been developed to allow the system to evolve relationships that avoid repetitive controller tendencies.

Spatial Interfacing
Awareness of participant(s) is enabled through camera tracking and data scanning that allows for identifying human presence within contextual scenes. Real time camera streams are processed and coupled with blob tracking and optical flow analysis to locate positions and gestural activity of participants. Inactive participation of a performer in the environment can stimulate responses of disinterest and boredom.

Multi-User Interaction
Collective participation is enabled by the ability of our system to identify and real-time map the number of performers within a durational sequence.

 

Context/Related Projects

The Furby Experiment

Radiolab in the Talking to Machines episode reported the “Furby experiment” were they presented a barbie, a hamster and a furby to 6 brave kids in order to learn about how  compassionate we are about machine simulated feelings.

The experiment consisted in the kids holding the 3 “subjects” upside down while they felt comfortable, acting as a kind of emotional Turing test.

The results were that the kids could hold the barbie for an unlimited period of time, or until they got tired. They hamster could only hold the hamster for a painful 8 seconds. And the Furby they could hold for roughly a minute, being closer to the hamster than the barbie.

The kids statement concluded that the reaction of the Furby to be held upside down made them uncomfortable to a point that they felt bad about it.

Caleb Chung, the man who created the Furby, explains the reactions starting with what he thinks are the points that an object needs to feel real for a human.

  1. Feel and show emotions: The furby accomplishes this with audio, speech and movement of eyes and ears.
  2. Awareness of themselves and the environment: When there is a loud sound, Furby will say “Hey loud sound”. It also “knows” when it’s held upside down.
  3. Change over time: When first activated the Furby will speak furbish, a gibberish language, and slowly will replace it with English. There is no real language comprehension but it acts like it’s acquiring human language.

In the experiment these 3 points are accomplished. The Furby is aware that it is upside down (#2) and expresses fear (#1). “Me no like” he says, until he starts crying (#3), giving a compelling impression of emotions.

Deep Dream by Google

DeepDream is a computer vision program created by Google which uses a convolutional neural network to find and enhance patterns in images via algorithmic pareidolia, thus creating a dreamlike hallucinogenic appearance in the deliberately over-processed images. Google’s program popularized the term (deep) “dreaming” to refer to the generation of images that desired activations in a trained deep network, and the term now refers to a collection of related approaches.

AI-Duet

This experiment lets you make music through machine learning. A neural network was trained on many example melodies, and it learns about musical concepts, building a map of notes and timings. You just play a few notes, and see how the neural net responds. We’re working on putting the experiment on the web so that anyone can play with it. In the meantime, you can get the code and learn about it by watching the video above.

Quick, Draw! by Google

This is a game built with machine learning. You draw, and a neural network tries to guess what you’re drawing. Of course, it doesn’t always work. But the more you play with it, the more it will learn. It’s just one example of how you can use machine learning in fun ways.

 

Technical overview

The installation used Kinects to track users position, movements and gestures. With this spatial awareness they created an evolving artificial intelligence behavior, that expressed moods and communicated with humans, using light, sound and movement. The tentacles moved with strings pulled by motors.

 

References

Minimaforms Studio. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://minimaforms.com/studio/

Petting Zoo by Minimaforms. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://minimaforms.com/#item=petting-zoo-frac-2

Furbidden Knowledge. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://www.radiolab.org/story/137469-furbidden-knowledge/

Mordvintsev, Alexander; Olah, Christopher; Tyka, Mike (2015). “DeepDream – a code example for visualizing Neural Networks”. Google Research. Archived from the original on 2015-07-08.

A.I. Duet – A.I. Experiments. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com/ai-duet

Quick, Draw! – A.I. Experiments. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com/quick-draw

CASE STUDY – Discovery Wall by Squint Opera

setwidth414-wcmc-discovery-wall-squint-opera-and-hirschmann-45

Presented by Sara Gazzad and Mudit Ganguly

Link to presentation 

Client: Weill Cornell Medical College
Creative Direction: Squint/Opera
Technical Direction: Hirsch&Mann
Detail Design: The Cross Kings
Fabrication: DCL
Optics: Ely Optics

ARCHITECT: Ennead Architects
INTERIOR DESIGNER: Ennead Architects
INDUSTRY RESOURCE: Hirsch&Mann
INDUSTRY RESOURCE: The Cross Kings
INDUSTRY RESOURCE: Design Communications Limited

Introduction

Biomedical research centres aren’t renowned for creative enterprise – why should they be – but across the pond one New York organisation is bucking the trend with a stunning new digital artwork. The Weill Cornell Medical College commissioned London-based creative agencies Squint/Opera and Hirsch&Mann to produce the Discovery Wall for its new Manhattan premises and the results are super-impressive. The final piece comprises 2,800 LED screens set behind a bank of lenticular discs. For passers-by it can be viewed as a large-scale digital artwork but up close the screens display content that relates to the college’s pioneering scientific research.

There’s a nice making-of below in which the creatives explain the project’s ongoing potential, built around the college being able to upload content through their CMS. As Daniel Hisrchmann puts it: “It is extensible beyond us by design…you get to make something and watch it get better and better as people add more content over time. That is amazing!”

wcmc-discovery-wall-squint-opera-and-hirschmann-33

What is it?

A wall-sized digital artwork created from thousands of tiny screens and lenses was designed by Squint/Opera for the $650m Belfer Research Building, part of Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC) in Manhattan. The shimmering and animated foyer installation celebrates the college’s research work.

The large-scale digital installation (approx 4.6m x 2.7m) comprises 2800 mini screens set in a grid pattern behind a panel of thousands of circular acrylic discs – a reference to the lenses used in medical research. The dual layer construction makes it possible to read the wall from a distance as a single image, and then, up close, each screen has information about medical discoveries and other news from WCMC’s website. The installation is programmed so that images and stories change constantly.

To bring the concept to life, every aspect of the hardware was designed from scratch.

The shimmering and animated foyer installation celebrates the college’s research work. The large-scale digital installation (4.6m x 2.7m) is comprised of 2800 mini screens set in a grid pattern behind a panel of thousands of circular acrylic discs – a reference to the lenses used in medical research.

wcmc-discovery-wall-squint-opera-and-hirschmann-38

Goals

The artwork operates on three main perspective view points.

1. Far views display ‘macro’ images and text
2. Mid views display ‘mezzo’ layers of additional information
3. Up close views display ‘micro’, detailed levels of information

The goal of the installation was to celebrate the support of the building’s donors and promote the research and discoveries made in the building. In addition, it was designed as an intriguing and beautiful object to be viewed close up in the lobby or seen from outside the building as a single image. Each screen has information about medical discoveries and other news fed from WCMC’s website. The images and stories change constantly. Through the language of discovery passers-by are drawn in and encouraged to learn more. The vision of New-York-based Ennead Architects, was to commission an artwork which would promote collaboration throughout the building and give a light touch to the interior fabric. To achieve this electronics were colour-matched with the stone cladding and circuit boards were mounted on a transparent frame. The clear acrylic lenses magnify the stonework at oblique angles and focus on the screens when facing the wall square on. This elegant approach compliments the natural feel of the building. The double layer, screens and lenses, creates a unique visual effect, as the wall will look as whole from a long distance while the screens can be appreciated as single elements when looked closely. The creators use this characteristic to create large-scale visuals with smaller images, taken from the archives of the Belfer research center. Thanks to its set-up, the installation shows the research and the discoveries achieved in the Belfer’s building, in a way that is visually appealing and can be enjoyed from the street or from the lobby.
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Process

During the commission Ennead Architects advised the client and briefed Squint/Opera to develop creative concepts. The concepts were delivered through a team of specialists brought together by Squint/Opera. Hirsch&Mann led the technology design, production and delivery, The Cross Kings led the physical detail design and fabrication in Boston was completed by Design Communications Limited. Squint/Opera worked closely with Hirsch & Mann to design and build all components from scratch. This involved creating many prototypes which allowed the team to test ideas and communicate concepts to all stakeholders, taking them on the journey of developing a piece of art. The prototypes acted as a key discussion tool beyond drawings or presentations and allowed the team to refine the design and align with the architectural vision and the brief. From the early stages Squint/Opera worked with Ennead Architects to ensure practical elements were successfully integrated within the building. This included provision of extractor fans, IT and AV conduits/storage, appropriate light levels and structural supports to ensure the artwork will remain a permanent homage to medical discovery.
To develop the software, team worked with variable.io to help create both the front end CMS and the backend data storage, crunching, encoding and control. They were able to update all 2,800 LCD screens playback at a rate of 20fps. The software controller was equipped with algorithms for tiled content distribution, procedural layout generation and playlist scheduling. The whole architecture was running on NodeJS with CouchDB and talking to the hardware over serial port via the custom protocols developed by White Wing Logic.
discovery_wall_cms_01 discovery_wall_cms_02 discovery_wall_cms_03

For the realization of Discovery wall the authors created most of the hardware components from scratch. They chose a tiny screen with a high pixel density that can be used as a single tone pixel or as part of a high res composition, where all screens create a larger image. As the screens are part of a popular consumer device, they had to reverse engineer it and find the ideal conditions for its operation, a huge technical challenge itself.

The wiring and mounting of the pixels is achieved by grouping eight displays into a single printed circuit boards, with their own control components and memory on the back side. The cooper traces are platted in gold to give the installation an aesthetic outlook. Each column comprises five PCB and 40 displays.

Content

Content displayed on the Discovery Wall can be viewed differently at so-called macro, mezzo and micro levels. By looking at the installation in its macro view from across the road, visitors will see a large-scale high-resolution image on what appears to be one large display. The closer individuals get, however, the more levels of detail are uncovered.
At the mezzo level, from outside the window of the building, visitors can see titles of research topics and clusters of images amongst the LED screens. At the micro level, right up close to the installation, visitors can see high-resolution images and paragraphs of related text on the individual screens.Content is selected and scheduled using a content management system that was designed for use with the Discovery Wall. As new discoveries are made at the research center, the content is updated. In addition to the layers of content, the curved lenses create a lenticular effect for each mini screen, changing how the artwork looks depending on where the viewer is standing.
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Additional Info

The work is designed to be permanent and has a modular design. All its parts are replaceable and serviceable, meaning maintenance time and costs can be kept to a minimum. It has a power consumption of less than 1 kW.

Each screen is a reverse engineered LCD iPod nano screen, the resolution has been tested to ensure the screens can be read at the optimum image size at both a macro and micro levels. LCD screen resolution: 240 x 240 pixels Media wall macro resolution: 70 x 40 pixels Total media wall resolution: 16800 x 9600 pixels Power requirements: 1 KW (less than a standard heater) Lifespan: 10+ years

Gallery

 

Works cited

http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/discovery-wall

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/en_uk/blog/2800-screens-create-internet-enabled-lcd-mosaic

http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/en_uk/blog/2800-screens-create-internet-enabled-lcd-mosaic

http://newatlas.com/weill-cornell-medical-college-discovery-wall/32559/

http://www.squintopera.com/projects/all-work/wcmc-discovery-wall-2/

https://www.codaworx.com/project/wcmc-discovery-wall-weill-cornell-medical-college

WCMC Discovery Wall

Discovery wall – Zoom into medical research

 

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