FlattEar Me

Project Name: FlattEar Me

Project Members: Ramona Caprariu, Kylie Caraway, Sana Shepko

Project Description: FlattEar Me is a wearable device that takes the form of earmuffs. FlattEar Me’s literally keep you warm and fuzzy at all times, from the large, wool earmuffs, to the sweet sounding compliments whispered in your ear. When feeling distressed or looking for reassurance, the user presses the button behind their ear and a compliment will play.

Intended Context and Users: FlattEar Me is made for users of all ages. They are best used in cold weather. FlattEar Me’s are most often used outside, during commutes, and in solitude. Compliments play as little or as often as desired; the user is in control of the admiration given.

2-minute video presenting the portable & summarizing the field testing plan & results:

https://vimeo.com/246377023

Image of Product:

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Image of Product being worn by three group members:

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Final Design Files:

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BOM : https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YJtyliPrk1No4qI-vu55MjSV5Vky_pARm23NyWC1cK8/edit#gid=0

Rough estimate for each earmuff: $ 167.21 Each

Github Code:

https://github.com/sanaalla/Exp5_Final

Fritzing Diagram: 

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Process Journal

Day 1:

Today we brainstormed ideas for our final, portable project. This project needs to be off of the breadboard, battery powered, and fully enclosed.

We knew we wanted to make something in the wearable technology realm.

Five ideas:

  • Clothing that heats up when the temperature is cold outside. Winter-themed wearable technology
  • Sensor that sends you a notification on your phone when you have coffee breath, bad breath, breathalyzer
  • Mood sensor, mood ring, with colors
  • Wearable technology that uses animal defense mechanisms to combat sexual assault – perhaps spikes?
  • Whisper Earrings that whisper compliments to you when you’re distressed

After discussing our various ideas, we combined the mood sensor with the whisper earrings. We plan on using a heart rate sensor to measure someone’s anxiety, and based on their anxiety level, they will receive different compliments through a speaker near their ear. This could be earrings and a necklace, an earcuff, a brooch, a headband, a hat, a collar, etc.

We have decided to go ahead and order the music maker feather wing so it will arrive by Friday. We will also need a battery, a speaker, a button, wire, and decorative accessories.

DAY 2:

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We have finalized (at least almost finalized) our project idea.

In our first iteration, we are set on a wearable device, but we have to figure out how to dock the feather and battery near the earrings.

We realized that we needed something to send the signal to play an audio file. It would be very annoying to have someone constantly saying compliments in your ear. We also looked for heart rate monitors at Creatron, but they were all sold out. The difficulty of finding the heart rate sensors, as well as logistical issues of placing the heart rate monitor on the user easily in conjunction with the earrings/accessories made us abandon the mood sensor for now. While we would like to implement biometric data in further developments, the sensor available to us at this point make that too difficult to execute in our current time constraint.

Therefore, our first step in hardware was making a button trigger audio on the feather. We were first able to make the button mute the audio, but we wanted to reverse this, so we altered the code to only play the audio when the button was pressed.

Our next step was to upload audio onto a micro SD card and test it on the music maker feather wing. None of us had micro sd cards, so for testing purposes Kylie brought her GoPro micro sd card. After many attempts, we realized the GoPro SD card won’t work. It says it will read only, and it won’t allow us to write to the card. When we try to change it to write, or format the card, it won’t let us change anything. Tommy had similar experiences with his GoPro SD card. It seems that Gopro formats the card and it cannot be reverted back easily. Therefore, we have to buy a new SD card.

We went to The Source: bought a microSD card on sale, originally 19.99 but purchased it on sale for 11.99. It is a 16 GB SD Card.

Once we had an SD card with music uploaded, we worked through the Adafruit tutorial for the music maker feather wing. The first step is to solder the pins to the feather wing. Next, we downloaded the VS1053 library to get the music player example working in Arduino. After that we formatted the SD card. One important thing to mention is that the audio files have to be 8 character names (track001.mp3). We also have to make sure our tracks can load easily and aren’t too large. MP3s seem to be the best, as they are compressed to proper sizes and sound decent on the computer.

The example code also has a beep to tell you when it starts, which is helpful but also annoying after a certain point. We commented that out of the code. Unfortunately, when I plug in my MAC headphones, the quality sounds absolutely terrible. It is low volume and the distortion makes it almost unrecognizable. The audio also only plays when we open the serial monitor. We had to comment that section out, so we didn’t have to rely on our laptop to play the audio file.

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DAY 3:

Today we started by making our build of materials and writing our discussion post detailing the concept/overall development plan for the execution of the three devices. So far, our project is quite expensive – $106.00 each. The working title right now is “CompMEment” with the slogan: ““None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have decided against mini speakers and will go the route of using earbuds instead. This will be easier to implement into your project, they are a more appropriate size, and we aren’t sure that the music maker feather wing version we bought will even work with the speakers we purchased from Creatron.  

Our working code so far:  https://github.com/sanaalla/exp5TESTING/blob/master/exp5_music.ino

We have also decided to switch from jewelry to some sort of headband with headphones. Could take the form of earmuffs, Yoda ears, flowers, a tiara, etc.

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We recorded Ramona saying compliments from a compliment generator online (www.complimentgenerator.co.uk) , such as:

  1. Everytime you smile, a kitten is born.
  2. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s you, you massive legend.
  3. I once looked at your bum. I regret nothing.

We recorded them on our phone, and brought them into Adobe Audition to export as MP3s.

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We tested out the music maker. The sound quality is really awful. It is so distorted and quiet you can’t hear Ramona’s compliment, defeating the purpose of the project. We tried Emilia’s feather wing to see if our solder was the issue, but it sounds bad with her music maker feather wing as well. We tried changing the volume and other settings in the code, but it didn’t change the quality of the audio.

We talked over our project with Nick to fix any issues and get feedback on portions of our project we were uncertain about, such as wiring our project and button onto a headband, randomizing audio files, and sound quality issues. Sana worked with Nick on the code for randomizing what audio track is played, while Ramona and Kylie attempted to fix the sound quality issues.

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Ramona and Kylie got nowhere with sound quality issues. They tried altering the audio files, trying different headphones, trying different audio files, with no results. In desperate measures, they asked sound engineer Finlay for help.

FINLAY SAVED US it was an issue with headphones..?

We need headphones with Tip ring sleeve NOT tip ring ring sleeve (what is used with most headphones today) (VERY VERY IMPORTANT)

Therefore, in order for our project to work, we need either:

  • ⅛ in TRS male to ⅛ inch TRRS female adapters

OR

  • TRS headphones

We couldn’t find any headphones online that would clarify they were TRS headphones, nor would they show the end of the headphone jack to look for the number of rings.

Kylie went to Walmart and found TRS headphones (they had a graphic of the stereo plug, but she double checked the audio jack by opening the packaging). Sony Clear Sound Headphones for $10.88!

Day 4:

Today we decided to re-brainstorm our name ideas. We changed from CompMEment to something along the lines of: “Voices in my Head”

 

Ramona also rewrote our script and did a call for volunteers to read compliments (Ramona didn’t want to listen to her voice over and over)

SCRIPT

 

  • Your methodology is soooo sound. (Savaya)  
  • Tommy’s words of wisdom (TOMMY)
  • If you tried, you could probably be quite famous. (Savaya)
  • Everytime you smile, a kitten is born. (SEAN)
  • I’d love to speculate on possible futures with you.  (TOMMY)  
  • I wish I could deep dive into your eyes. (Emma)
  • You compute me. (KRISTY)
  • Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s you, you massive legend.  (EMMA)
  • I once looked at your bum. I regret nothing. (KRISTY)
  • You’re perfectly layered. Like a lasagne. (SEAN)

We recorded most of our compliments, brought them into Audition to adjust the volume, edit them, and convert them from m4a files to MP3 files, and then we uploaded them to the SD cards. We also wired all three of our projects.

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Day 5:

Today we finished recording all of our compliments and uploaded them to all of the SD cards. We began putting together our testing plans today:

    • Preparations
      • What needs to be done ahead of time?
      • Battery must be charged (with a special lithium polymer charger)
      • Do you need extra batteries?
        • No, our battery is rechargeable.
      • What goes into your repair kit?
        • Needle and thread
        • Wire
        • Electrical tape
        • Extra yarn
      • Be sure to take “before” photos.
    • The Plan
      • How will you document your own user experiences while using the device? Notes? Journaling? Photos? Video? Audio recording?
        • Notes/ Journaling/ Video
      • What will you do to ensure that your data collection methods are consistent for each group member?
        • Wear for the same amount of time, we all have the same sound bites to draw from, same functional design, all going to wear on our commutes
      • For each group member, what are the dates & times of testing?
        • Kylie: Wednesday and Thursday during the day
        • Ramona: Wednesday and Thursday after 4 (has work prior to)
        • Sana: Wednesday and Thursday after 4
      • If there is a reason that (2) 6-hour testing periods don’t make sense, include a proposal for a reasonable equivalent for your device and get sign off from Kate.
        • Our wearable is a winter-specific wearable so wearing them indoors for an extended period may prove a little odd and uncomfortable; also because we wear them on our ears, it may be difficult to wear consistently for 6 hours straight.
      • Will you be together or having your own experiences?
        • Own experiences
      • Will you be doing your day-to-day activities or doing a special activity?
        • Day-to-Day
      • Any other details?
    • End of Session Reports
      • You are required to create End of Session Reports. Create a survey / form using Google Forms for each group member to fill out at the end of their 6-hour testing periods. You will end up with 6 entries (3 users x (2) 8-hour testing periods.) Link to your form here.
    • After – Crunching the data & documentation
      • After the field testing, how will your team structure a debriefing conversation?
        • We will talk to one another and fill out a survey:

 

  • How did FlattEar Me feel after an hour?
  • How did it make you feel, in an emoji?
  • When did you find yourself pressing the button and why?
  • Did you feel like it change your emotional state when you heard the voices?
  • Was it intuitive to press the button in that location?
  • What recommendations for further development?

 

    • What will you do with the data and media once you find it?
      • Incorporate it into our video, and discuss what our next iterations in the future will be
    • How will you display or present your observations & findings?
      • Make a video with our user journals, videos, and surveys
    • Be sure to visually document each prototype after testing is complete and make notes on what state they’re in.

We are also reconsidering our name:

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New Name: FlattEar Me

DAY 6:

OK OK OK OK..

So we started off the day hopeful because all our wiring was golden from Monday and we had our materials gathered from Michael’s. BUT on Monday, near the end of class, we decided to remove the resistor near the button on our circuit to keep everything more trim and compact and we now, in hindsight, believe this was our error. We started soldering one protoboard with the feather and feather wing and then a small proto board piece with just the button. But we were having loads of issues with playability inconsistency. We thought it may have been the battery (perhaps it wasn’t giving out a full charge, maybe it wasn’t of a high enough voltage, etc.). Then we thought it was the wiring so we unsoldered the button and tried placing it back on the breadboard. BUT then, we found it was having the same inconsistencies in play still. SO, hours later, we thought to reintroduce the resistor (by looking at our preliminary fritzing diagrams, we were reminded of our initial thinking) and lo and behold, a success! But still, only kind of – it doesn’t play endlessly. In the ballpark of every 30-40 presses of the button, we must reset the featherwing music maker. And then it proceeds to play again. The batteries also seem like they need charging fairly often.

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We also started building the ear muff components from felt, wool yarn, and hot glue.

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We followed the Brit & Co tutorial (linked in our context section) to make the pom pom ear muffs out of the wool yarn.
We wanted the earmuffs to be very large so we could place the electronics within them. In our first attempt, the pom pom looked less fluffy and more like a mop or small dog. This was due to us making the yarn bunch longer in length, rather than more yarn.

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We tried again, making the bunch with more yarn rather than longer yarn, and this fixed our prior issue.

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After finishing the pom poms, we started making the ear muff piece that presses against the user’s ears. We did this by cutting out a circular piece of felt, and swirling the yarn on top of it.

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We realized that glue the pompom and the earpiece to both pieces of the felt sandwich made it lack any structure to place the earbuds in, so we decided to purchase stiff felt and place a piece in the middle of the earmuff, to provide more support for the two pieces along with the earbud.

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After hot gluing the stiff felt to the felt sandwich, we glued the pom pom and soft earpiece to the outside of the felt (in hindsight, I wish we had not hot glued this. We later realized we must sew this to make sure it stays in tact, and sewing through three pieces of felt and hard glue proved to be extremely difficult- next time, we will wait to hot glue until the very end).

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Our next step was to figure out how we would incorporate the various pieces of hardware onto the headband and earmuffs. While we originally wanted to place the hardware within the earmuff, it came to our attention that the weight distribution would be so uneven that the earmuffs would not be able to be worn and would be extremely uncomfortable. We decided to move the electronic components further up the headband, where we could use the teeth of the headband to hold onto the electronic components. We weren’t sure how hot glue would react to the protoboard, so we decided to zip-tie the protoboard (with the feather, music maker, and battery) to the headband, with the button and resistor on the opposite side of the headband. We continued to use zip-ties to hold the wires and button to the headband. We also used heat shrink (that was not heated up) to hold the wires in place on top. Our next step was to figure out how we would store the battery with the feather without gluing it down. We decided to use velcro to attach the battery to the side of the feather, so that the electronic compartment would not be too tall, and we would have the ability to reach the reset button, as well as the SD card and audio jack. Our last step was wrapping the earbuds around the components, and positioning each of the earbuds to hang down on opposite sides.

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As you can see, combining the earmuffs with the electronic headband made us realize that our earmuffs were going to be HUGE. Our next steps are:

  • figuring out a way to make a compartment for the electronics that is easily accessible
  • cover the rest of the wires
  • leave the button visible and functional

We also need to figure out how we are going to implement the earbuds into the earmuffs, so they will be in the proper space and stay oriented properly without swiveling around.

Day 7:

Today was our workshop day! We built some stuff!

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Our first step was creating a compartment for the electronics. We used stiff felt and normal felt to sew a box around the electronic components, with a hole for the usb to fit through. We also made a top piece that is sewed on one side, so we can flip it open to change the battery, hit the reset button, or reach the SD card.

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The earbuds were swivelling

around too much with the zip ties, so we decided to use duct tape to fasten the earbuds into the exact spot we wanted them to lay. We went ahead and built all three headbands the exact same way, before we began layering the felt on top of the electronics.

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We cut small strips of felt and layered them on top of one another, hot gluing the pieces as we went. We had to cut a hole out for the button to remain visible. The felt was a good first layer to hide the wiring, as well as create a cushion for the earmuffs.

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Our next step was placing the earbuds within the earmuffs, and attaching the earmuffs to the headband. This took two sets of people and a bit of finessing. We attempted to measure where the earbud would fall in relation to the headband and earmuffs. This was dependent on the person wearing them, as well as the earmuff size.

Our next step was fastening the earbuds within the earmuffs. We first realized you could not hear the compliments very well through the felt and wool yarn, so we decided to cut a small hole for the earbud to fit into. This was a very difficult task, as our scissors did not like the felt, and the hardened hot glue was very tough to cut through. If we were to do this again, we would cut the holes for the earbuds before gluing the pieces together.

To fasten the earbuds to the earmuffs, we superglued the back of the earbud to a piece of felt. We were worried that placing hot glue on the earbud would melt and ruin the earbud, and we didn’t want to take that risk. We essentially used the piece of superglued felt as a piece of tape by stretching the felt and hot gluing it to the inside of the earmuff.

Next, we hot glue the felted headband to both sides of the earmuff, as well as poured more hot glue within the earmuff and sandwiched it together. This took large amounts of glue, and the earmuff would still open up on the edges, so we decided to sew around the edge to keep them secure and intact.

After attaching all of the earmuffs to the headbands through hot glue and sewing, we attached more wool yarn in order to hide the blue felt, create more cushion and warmth, and to make the earmuffs more aesthetically pleasing. We wrapped pieces around the headband, hot gluing as we went. We made sure to avoid wrapping over the button, the USB slot, and the top of the electronics compartment. 

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Voila! We completed all three earmuffs, and they look almost identical, yet they each have their own personalities based on the fluff on their muffs.

User Testing

User Testing Plan

For our user testing, we decided to rely on notes, journals, and photos. Video recordings seemed to be an ineffective tool for information gathering, because our project relies on personal experiences with discrete audio and a small button, versus visual cues and feedback or shared participatory experiences. We also decided that we would not wear these in 2 6-hour sessions, rather we would wear them during all of our commutes, while we are outside, and at other times we deemed plausible. We wanted to wear our earmuffs when we would normally wear them day-to-day, rather than forcing them into a specific timeframe. We believed wearing them for 6 hours straight could potentially negatively impact the information we gathered, as well as it being uncomfortable and awkward to wear in situations when we are at work or in class, etc.

User Testing Questions and Survey:

Before going out and testing our product, we decided to create a survey of questions / Google Form (https://goo.gl/forms/VEIMrOI7euqUYZc92) for us to fill out after testing. We decided on these questions:

  • How did FlattEar Me feel physically after your session?
  • Was it comfortable?
  • Did you feel like it changed your emotional state when you heard the voices?
  • Was it intuitive to press the button in that location?
  • When did you find yourself pressing the button and why?
  • How often did you press the button?
  • What recommendations would you have for further development?

Personal Reflections of User Testing:

Sana user testing:

In general, the earmuffs feel very comfortable. As far as these headphone type things go, they’re much looser than bluetooth earphones which actually makes them easier to wear for long periods of time. I first tested them out on my walk back to home from the subway (around 20 minutes) and they actually did a GREAT job of keepings my ears warm. The music maker wing worked for the entirety of the walk, up until the point I walked into the house; I am tempted to believe that this is a change of state kind of thing that might have affected it? As in the change of temperature might have disrupted the fragility that we have learned is the music maker? These actually (and not to toot our own horn here) did have a positive effect on my mood. Before putting them on it was a pretty normal commute experience, but I think just the fact that I was wearing this ridiculous headpiece and knew why people were staring at me as I walked by added this bit of hilarity, in addition to the fact that I could hear Tommy’s voice saying “YASSS QUEEN” when I pressed the button. All in all, the only thing I wish we could fix is aesthetic so I don’t feel quite so self-conscious wearing this in public… well, and I suppose the need to reset the music maker feather whenever it decides to freeze on us.

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Also they do feel a little like they’re about to slip off all the time, and figuring out where to situate the earmuffs so that the earbud is right over your ear isn’t very intuitive. However, even when the sound isn’t being played right into my ear, the voice recordings are still fairly clear; but in situations where you’re in a loud space it might be a little hard to hear so that’s something that we should consider.

Kylie User Testing:

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I wore my earmuffs during my commutes in between school and home, on my walks around my neighborhood with my dog, and around my house. Here are some of my notes and journal entries I wrote down during my user testing experience:

  • The earmuffs are very warm. I have never worn earmuffs before, and I do not own a pair, so I was a new user to earmuffs. They kept me very warm outside, which was great in the cold – not so great when worn inside.
  • The earmuffs were very comfortable and soft at first. After a while, my head felt squeezed and compressed, and my ears started to hurt from the pressure, as well as the earbuds (I have a big head and small ears, so this is probably an issue with me more-so than the earmuffs)
  • The earbuds are made for specific ears (one for the left ear, one for the right ear) and we didn’t make it obvious which way to wear the earmuffs, so I found myself wearing them backwards numerous times, and I had to reverse them. It would be great if we could make it more obvious which way to wear them.
  • I kept having to readjust them on my head. They either felt like they were in the wrong spot on my head and right spot for my ears, or wrong spot for my ears and right spot for my head. It was tricky to measure these for each person, and it would be tricky to make a pair that fits every user, but I think in the next iteration we would need to finesse the measurements to fit better.
  • The earmuffs are (obviously) very big, and due to the electrical components within them, they are very heavy. If I rotated my head or looked down at all, they would fall off my head. This was my biggest issue with the earmuffs so far.
  • The earmuffs are also a dog magnet. My dog has gone to extreme measures to try and get ahold of my earmuffs (from attempting to climb my dresser, to using the chairs near my dining table as steps to get on top of the table.) Other dogs are also mesmerized by them when I walk near. Perhaps they look like a small animal?
  • I also felt very self-conscious and silly when wearing them. People definitely notice how huge they are (or maybe I am more aware of people looking at me?) I was anxious wearing them at first, but the first compliment i pressed was Tommy’s words of wisdom. It made me smile and laugh, and it did make me feel better and happier. My attention was drawn away from my head as a bowling ball size and more towards feeling good about myself.
  • Overall, I really like the compliments we selected. They are fun and silly, but also reassuring. I found myself wanting a larger variety of compliments, so that could be another iteration we could do in the future.
  • In my first session walking around, I was only able to receive about 8 compliments before they stopped working. My battery had died. The battery life seems relatively short on my pair, so I have to recharge them often.
  • After leaving them to charge overnight, I was able to get about 40 or so compliments before having to reset the feather. I think I have to reset the feather from timing out, or once I hit about 30 compliments or so. I also think the battery life is good for about 50 or so compliments.
  • I think the volume is a good amount, but I have also worn them when I am in quiet spaces, such as the subway or walking outside. Other people have commented that they are too quiet. Perhaps this is because the users are in loud spaces, or the earmuffs are measured for my own head and ears, so they don’t fit properly on other users.
  • Overall, I really like the emotional response this had on my user testing, I just wish the earmuffs were not as huge / ostentatious and a bit more comfortable. I found that I could not wear them for longer than 1 hour at a time. I had to give my ears a rest.

Ramona User Testing:

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I similarly wore my earmuffs on my commute to and from work/school and I also tried wearing them around the house a couple times but was met by too much curiosity from my cat who would not seize chasing me around. On my commute, I was initially quite comfortable wearing the ear muffs because of their warmth and comfort, but as I wore them longer, I was more aware of the imbalanced structure on my head. I had to be very cautious of moving my head too quickly or looking down because I was so nervous they would fall off. Wearing them during rush hour was also very uncomfortable to me because it was then that I was hyperaware of their size and I felt a little pompous and extravagant. I did find myself reaching for the button more in these moments, to distract myself and maybe to also make it more obvious to people that I was ‘doing’ something with the earmuffs. As for the earmuffs themselves, I believe they worked as intended. When I was wearing them at the restaurant I work at (right as I was leaving), I found the noisy atmosphere made it quite difficult to hear the compliments. But all in all, volume was not that big of an issue for me. More often than not, a low volume was because I was wearing the ear muffs incorrectly (the earbud positioning was then off). I also found the battery life to have been less than expected, but still not requiring more than a couple charges a day (each at about 30mins). I was able to use them in a context and a way that was conducive to my life. I had quite the positive experience testing these – I was proud of what we had made and in the beginning, that definitely coloured my perspective (as I was in such a good mood). But as I wore them longer, I was able to point out the flaws in design and that first-hand/lived experience was ultimately so helpful.

Data collection from survey:

Here is the data we received from user testing. We filled out our survey to view our own feedback. We additionally asked others from our cohort who tried FlattEar Me on to fill out the survey:

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Our Overall Summary of User Testing:

Based on the survey above, this is a summary of the data we received:

  • FlattEar Me leans on the comfortable side for users
  • FlattEar Me improves the user’s mood, with the majority feeling happy, and others feeling both amused and… a little bit gassy?
  • While the button was pressed numerous times when worn by users, the button location is not intuitive.
  • The button was pressed when people were curious, bored, or wanted to hear all the compliments, rather than when they were wanting a mood boost.
  • The data is widespread for how often FlattEar Me would be used, from “never” worn to “always” worn, with more users leaning on the “always” worn side.
  • Recommendations include: color options, less lint and fluff, change in button location, and making the earmuffs lighter in weight… We were also told to make them larger??

As a group, we agreed that these were a bit awkward to wear out in public, but the compliments were self-esteem boosters and made us laugh and happy. We would like to implement more compliments for a greater variety and surprise. We also noted the weight of the earmuffs, and that they became a sort of balancing act to wear during commutes. The button location was also an area of discussion – perhaps it should be placed lower on the earmuffs, or within the pom pom of the earmuff, because it is a bit uncomfortable and awkward to press at this moment.

Our Next Steps and Future Iterations:

As we move this project forward, there are a few iterations we would like to make:

  • We would like to work on the button location, making it more intuitive for the user
  • We would like to address the size and weight of the earmuffs, making them easier and more comfortable to wear, store, and transport.
  • We would like to increase the number of compliments for a greater variety
  • We would like to change the design of the earbuds, making them more comfortable, louder, and suitable for various users. This could mean using speakers instead of earbuds.
  • We would like to find a more inconspicuous way to store the electronics, while still making them accessible for the user.
  • We would like to address issues with the music maker needing to reset after so many compliments, as well as the battery dying in a relatively short time span.
  • We would like to find ways to decrease the price of these earmuffs, making them more affordable for users.
  • We would like to make different designs and colour options, as well as an option more suitable for other seasons, such as a summer version.

References & Context:

FlattEar Me would not have been made without the help of Adafruit’s music maker feather wing, the Compliment Generator, and Brit + Co’s pom pom ear muffs tutorial. Adafruit gave a step by step tutorial (https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-music-maker-featherwing/overview) to help users with the music maker feather wing, from soldering the right pieces, to diagrams of the different pins available, to downloading the proper libraries and giving example code with fantastic notes and references. The Compliment Generator (http://www.complimentgenerator.co.uk/) gave us a script to work off of for our compliments. While we used some homemade compliments, we also used some of their compliments within our project. Brit + Co’s tutorial (https://www.brit.co/how-to-make-pom-pom-ear-muffs/) provided a different reference, as it helped us gather materials and form a product that we felt was capable of hiding the hardware components within the material. We were also mesmerized by the photo of the dog with the pom pom earmuffs.

screen-shot-2017-12-01-at-2-56-08-pm

Other wearable technology in headband form includes the Sparkfun illuminated pom pom headband (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/led-pompom-headbands/advanced-pompom-headband) as well as the Crystal Headband that lights up via LEDs (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/led-crystal-goddess-crown?_ga=2.35831017.830944120.1512079637-721508807.1510938523).

While we moved away from using biometric data to send compliments when the user is upset or stressed, we were motivated by other wearable technology that uses biometric data as an input. The AWElectric (https://makezine.com/2016/06/08/sensorees-biometric-jacket-has-3d-printed-goosebumps-that-move/) is a wearable technology that renders visual and tactile signals through lights and fractal goosebumps that raise out of the clothing when the user is in awe.

We would be remiss to not include where we first received the idea of complimenting accessories: 20th Century Fox’s Aquamarine (2006). In this film, a mermaid by the name of Aquamarine totes starfish earrings that give her compliments. She declares, “They literally give me compliments – in my ear. They talk to me. Starfish are notorious suck-ups. They love to give compliments. But it’s nice when you need a little boost.”

Compliments are an important aspect of our social lives. According to Psychology Today, (https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200403/the-art-the-compliment) if compliments are given correctly, “they create so much positive energy that they make things happen almost as if by magic” (Marano 2004). “Focusing on and noticing the good qualities in the world around us gives our moods a boost all by itself” (Marano 2004). Earmuffs are also considered one of the most popular inventions, as they received attention on HowStuffWork’s Stuff of Genius (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpHRwXXkZnw) for keeping millions of ears warm and toasty. Therefore, the combination of earmuffs and compliments can keep people warm and fuzzy on the inside and outside!

Bibliography

Aquamarine. Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, 20th Century Fox, 2006.

Bryden, Kelly. “Warm Up With DIY Pom Pom Earmuffs.” Brit & Co, 29 Dec. 2015, www.brit.co/how-to-make-pom-pom-ear-muffs/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

“Compliments Are Good.” Compliment Generator, www.complimentgenerator.co.uk/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

“Ear Muffs: Where Did They Come From? | Stuff of Genius.” YouTube, uploaded by HowStuffWorks, 8 Nov. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpHRwXXkZnw. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

Feldi. “LED Crystal Goddess Crown.” Sparkfun, learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/led-crystal-goddess-crown?_ga=2.35831017.830944120.1512079637-721508807.151093852 3. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

Feldi. “LED PomPom Headbands.” Sparkfun, learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/led-pompom-headbands/advanced-pompom-headband. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.  

Lady Ada, editor. “Overview: Adafruit Music Maker FeatherWing.” Adafruitlearn.adafruit.com/adafruit-music-maker-featherwing/overview. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

Marano, Hara Estroff. “The Art of the Compliment.” Psychology Today, 1 Mar.2004, www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200403/the-art-the-compliment. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

Neidlinger, Kristin. “Sensoree’s 3D Printed Fabric Animates Your Goosebumps.”Make:, 8 June 2016, makezine.com/2016/06/08/sensorees-biometric-jacket-has-3d-printed-goosebumps-that-move/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2017.

 

 

 

The Felt-Soothing Device

EXPERIMENT #4

Title: The Felt-Soothing Device

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-21-44-pm

Team Members: Dikla Sinai & Ramona Caprariu

Project Prompt: For this project you will design and create a custom device that allows the members of your group to communicate in new ways.  Using the Wifi connection of the Feather M0, you will create standalone objects that communicate over the internet.  Each group must consider how these devices create a specific language that allows the things, people, or places on the ends of the network to communicate.

Project Description: The Felt-Soothing Device allows a parent to communicate with their child in the other room – as a way to trigger a soothing song that would help the child resume sleep if they are crying. We envision it coming with different felt options for casings so that each user can customize their paired devices in whichever way they want. 

Process Journal:

Day One

When we first met, we decided first to start brainstorming on the cons and failings of communication in our modern world, to see if we could target an avenue to address further in this assignment. We had initially set out to try and create a set of devices that would help foster easier communication.

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-7-17-55-pm

We quickly figured out that we wanted to tackle an exiting kind of social interaction. We first thought of the radio silence that is associated so often with first meet-ups/impressions when there is awkwardness between people and they are cautious and nervous. Perhaps something that could function as a descriptive facilitator for awkward first conversations? But figuring out a specific enough way to create this device was too difficult for our time and skill constraints. Then we had the idea to make something targeted towards individuals with a hearing impairment communicating with somebody else with a vision impairment. We conveniently found an Arduino project with this exact intention: https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/skyseeker/deaf-blind-communication-with-1sheeld-arduino-bb3362?ref=tag&ref_id=communication&offset=65

Day Two

The next step was to create user flow diagrams so we could conveniently map out the different components we would need. Especially with how there are multiple channels and flows, developing a clear idea of how the devices would work was essential.

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-7-45-46-pm

We brought up the idea with Kate and she advised us to hone in on a particular aspect of our overall idea because incorporating an Adafruit LCD screen + keyboard and then also a voice recording module would just be way too complicated and unattainable. She told us to focus on:

  • Visually impaired individual- input is button press and output is different vibration sequences
  • Hearing impaired individual – input is button press and output is different LEDs

This new iteration would then have focused on facilitating a conversation starting between these two individuals. It would be a way to help these two people initiate a conversation with the other.

Day Three

We got more specific in terms of the definition of the outcome we want to achieve. We realized that what is most important to us is to focus in this prototype is the very basic first interaction between our two users.

And so we started working on the code for each device:

User type A – Hearing disability – should have a button to send a message and vibration to feel that they’ve received one.

User type B – Vision disability – should have a button to send a message and LED to see that they’ve received one.

We started researching for design inspiration. We decided that we want to create a bracelet so that people can wear it as a fun accessory. The idea to use it on your wrist so it would be visual and close to a pulse point so you can feel and be aware of it too. 

We went shopping for all the electronic parts – more buttons and lithium-ion polymer batteries.

Day Four

We spent the entire day trying to figure out how to solve our two main problems:

  1. We keep getting ‘client error’ and ‘message read error’ notifications constantly on Ramona’s device. The error appears after we’re use the button 3-4 times and then we need to re-upload the code again to have it work for us, because it won’t snap back into the rhythm of working for us. 
  2. We managed to send values from both devices to PubNub but we couldn’t make them operate each other’s devices.

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screen-shot-for-blog

After meeting with Nick we decided to focus on only one side (sending a message on a button press from one of our feathers and having that operate the other device.

Day Five

We’re still having the ‘client error’ message!  We tried to search this on Google and on forums for any kind of  solution, and we could not find it. W also kept asking around the 6th floor studio space if other groups were having this issue, but we could not come to any long-term solution. 

We decided we would have to switch to another sensor since we were experiencing some issues with the vibration motor. We decided to switch to a speaker and we had a quick chat with Kristy and Tommy to get their help (since they were using one).

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screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-19-18-pm

We then started thinking about the new design concept and intentionality and decided we were going to make a device that would allow a parent to communicate with their crying/napping child in the other room – as a way to trigger a soothing song that would help the child resume sleep. We brainstormed attractive designs for this purpose and settled on creating felt sleeves with cute colourful designs fit for a young child.

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-31-48-pm

We proceeded to add a tune library to the Arduino code to make the speaker work. We found a lullaby tune that would fit the idea.

We managed to make one code to send ‘0’ to PubNub and one device to receive ‘0’and operate the speaker. The problem we had now was that the first device was sending ‘0’ constantly so the speaker was playing the tune over and over again.

We thought that we can solve it by adding an ‘if’ statement, so that the first device we send ‘1’ regularly, and on button click send ‘0’, which will make the speaker play a tune. But no matter what we tried we couldn’t make it work.

We scheduled another meeting with Kate and started to work on the design.

We created 2 decorative felt sleeves to cover the devices.

Day Six

‘Client error’ message is still there 🙁

We continued working on our code:

We changed the button values to boolean (true/false) for the button click. Then defined that every time we click the button it will send “true”, and the other device will get the “true” and be triggered to play the tune.

We also tried to fix the client error. Again, no luck. We decided to try switching feathers for the send/receive functionality and test it to see if we still getting the same message.

We took video documentation of the two working together also!

Photo Documentation:

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-34-01-pm

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-33-55-pm

screen-shot-2017-11-23-at-8-33-46-pm

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Video Documentation:

Fritzing/Circuity Diagrams:

wiringnov23

dikla2

Code: https://github.com/LolaSNI/feltsoothingdevice

 

Experiment #3 – Digi-Doodler

EXPERIMENT #3

TITLE: DIGI-DOODLER

TEAM IS: RAMONA CAPRARIU

DESCRIPTION:

The functionality of this “game”/peripheral is that it is essentially like an etch-a-sketch controller that produces the drawing digitally, alongside creative prompts, a timer, and a snapshot saving function.

CIRCUIT LAYOUT:

sketchexp3

PROCESS JOURNAL:

Day One

I initially had the idea to create a peripheral that would help me access my eyes more effectively. I have been wearing glasses/contacts since I was in third grade and recently, I’ve begun looking at the possibility of laser eye surgery. To be a good candidate, your eyes’ prescription need to not have changed drastically in the past little while and I wanted to create a way to put me in an environment where this was possible. I have the habit of using my computer deep into the night and this effectively strains my eyes to a degree I would like to monitor. So my initial idea was to use a light sensor on the back of my computer that would adjust for various thresholds in my room at night. Once it detected the threshold for a dark environment, a stopwatch would be triggered on the webpage I created and then log the amount of time the sensor was within this threshold limit. On this day that I settled on the idea, I managed to hook up the light sensor, code for it with Arduino, and then get a log of the current time through p5.js.

Day Two

My next step with this light sensor idea was to: figure out how to create a stopwatch that logs and time stamps. I spoke to people in class and consulted the internet and kept coming up short. I was only getting resources on how to set a timer instead. At this point, I was getting nervous because I didn’t know if I should continue with this idea and make some compromises in the design or just start from scratch instead. I decided to approach the assignment again from the beginning and devise a new kind of peripheral that I need in my life. I was hoping I could settle on something that would incorporate elements of the first idea I had but I didn’t want to restrict myself so I let the ideas soar.

I began thinking about note talking and how much I love that pencil and paper contact. But in the past couple of months, I’ve been finding that these moments are fewer and fewer. This is in part to my binder being very heavy to bring alongside my laptop at school everyday. But the bigger reason is that nobody around me seems to be taking handwritten notes so it often made me feel like a bit of an outlier to be erasing and tugging on paper. So I tried out note taking on my laptop and lo and behold, it is easier and faster and more convenient, yes. But a part of me still misses paper and its affordances like…doodling! So I kept thinking in this direction and thought about etch-a-sketches, the most iconic and nostalgic doodler. I thought about its shape and how the knobs are basically two potentiometers. I thought that this was a very feasible and resourceful second idea, considering the time crunch and my building anxiety!

Day Three

I created my potentiometer breadboard and began looking into how I could create an interface similar to the etch-a-sketch drawing capabilities. I needed to figure out a continuous draw function. I looked in the book and eventually made sense of how to do it with an ‘If’ statement and a (mouseIsPressed) function that would then map a line with (pmouseX, pmouseY, mouseX, mouseY) that looked at both the X and Y axes but I was having difficulty adapting it to the two potentiometers I needed to use.

I found on GitHub some code that introduced me to Javascript’s splitting of a string as well as  parseInt(string, radix); as a way of creating the line extensions in the vein of etch-a-sketch. 

I had issues with the resulting webpage being quite glitchy and not very smooth but I tried to buffer those problems by adjusting the delay and the thickness of the line itself.

I then met up with Nick and was able to brainstorm some ways of taking this assignment further, as an etch-a-sketch is definitely a peripheral that I need but it is still something I have not inherently created. So I started thinking about adding creative prompts to make the experience like a ‘productive’ and ‘guided’ doodling session. Then I also was told that potentially adding a timer would aid the presentation. And this fit into my overall idea too, of having a doodling device that still lets you focus at your tasks at hand – and what better way than having time as a limitation/restrictor? Then I had the idea of adding a screenshot function so that you could keep a kind of log of all the different doodles you create – as you would have in your binders during class.

Then I also went up to speak with Reza about constructing a box for my controller. He laid out all my options and I decided using a ready-made box would suffice for my purposes. I used a Tupperware container and then spray painted in with a white primer and it yielded a nice little container! I fitted it with two pieces of blue foam on the inside so that I could slide in the breadboard and have it stay in a stable spot instead of potentially falling out at any point. This way, it was a compact box that remained with an open bottom and a hole on the side for the USB cable to fit in through.

DOCUMENTATION:

mycanvas-1

CODE:

https://github.com/ramonacaprariu/Exp3

REFERENCES:

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/AnalogReadSerial

http://p5js.org

Make: Getting Started with p5.js

https://github.com/lcc-prototyping-lab/etch-a-sketch-p5js

“What Do We Have Here?” by Quinn and Ramona

Title: “What Do We Have Here?”

wdwhh

Project Members: Quinn Rockliff and Ramona Caprariu

Project Description:

The parameter for this assignment was to use 20 screens. Using this as a platform, we set out to create a game that would be an educational experience for us as well as the users. Since neither of us had prior experience with p5.js, we wanted the resulting game to stress the importance of getting to know the vocabulary and relationships behind the simple interactions possible with this coding language, as that is what we found most paramount to our process.

The game “What Do We Have Here?” was developed from all of our brainstorming and trials.

Development Journal:

DAY ONE

We began our journey in class on Monday trying to brainstorm different possibilities. We discussed the concept of coworking spaces, shared desk space, and all their implications. We thought it so intriguing to enter a space where you could somehow see the space as it was used for the person previous and somehow that being a method of developing a bond or intimacy. So our initial idea developed into: creating a ‘desk top’ from phones that could sense the imprints of all the objects placed on top of them and then, using that information, translate into patterns and colours. We took the next couple of days to then mull over how exactly we would get the phones to use haptics to ‘sense’ objects not fingers.

 

DAY TWO

We came together and decided against the initial idea, seeing as we are both new to coding and wanted to keep within a realm of feasibility. All of our focusing around how we would teach ourselves the language of p5.js led us to think about creating a game.  Then emerged a theme that we then kept returning to: were camp games/childhood games. And only naturally, as we kept bringing back the 20 screen necessity, we decided on playing off a game that using a similar amount of ‘playing cards’, “Guess Who!”. Our idea spun off this popular game by having a one-on-one layout, with 10 phones/webpages for each player. Instead of just displaying faces like the original game, we both agreed that each screen should have an effect that could be described in ways we are learning through this p5.js process. We created a list of interactions and

We split up the list so that we would each be in charge of different pages and then during our game play, have everybody assigned to access one of the 10 pages (in 2 different sets) and then that would create the ‘game board’.

 

DAY THREE

We went to Michael’s to gather materials for our game board. We knew that learning how to code all ten webpages was a priority but even more so, we must understand how the game is going to be played. If all the phones are laying flat, the user will not be able to conceal which phone they have selected. We decided to use foam to cut slots for the ‘average’ phone size and this way phones could be slotted in quickly as well as turned around when eliminated from the game.

Note to selfs:  Do not try and cut foam like this again. It is messy and makes a snowy mess and not very easy to be precise. You will end up covering it in sparkly gold paper and fancy purple tape.

After 2 hours of fighting with an exacto knife and foam we had the outlines of our board!

img_4794

img_4797

img_4799

DAY FOUR

We met in between classes and reviewed some of our issues with the code. Some of the common issues we faced were:

How do we make all of these webpages look related?

We decided to pick a colour scheme and shape scheme. A 400×400 ellipse would be placed in the middle of the screen when possible. This would create an identifying relationship between all of the screens as well as make the game more difficult if they all seemingly look alike!

Secondly, we picked a colour scheme which we would input into the code whenever we could to add to the effect.

screen-shot-2017-10-24-at-6-07-45-pm

screen-shot-2017-10-24-at-6-07-24-pm

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This decision while not related to the technical code really brought all of our webpages together. It created a final design that had intention and looked good!

How do we stop the webpage from dragging with our finger?

Ramona did some research, found a little beautiful line of code. Lives were changed.

screen-shot-2017-10-29-at-8-00-33-pm

We both continued to work diligently on our code and worked out the kinks along the way with the help of coding rainbow, google, and p5.js examples online.

We got all of our code loaded onto cyberduck and prepared for our presentation by creating stricter rules and printing them onto cards to distribute to players.

  1. LERP

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164561/1

  1. TOUCH TO EXPAND

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164561/2

  1. GRADIENT

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164573/3/

  1. TOUCH TO MOVE

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164561/4/

  1. TAP TO CHANGE COLOUR  

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164573/5/

  1. BALL BOUNCE

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164573/6/

  1. SNAKE – arm

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164573/7

  1. NOTHING

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164561/8

  1. XY IMAGE

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164573/9/

  1. FLOAT BOUNCE

https://webspace.ocad.ca/~3164561/10

instructions

DAY FIVE

We presented our game in class for a critique. Although we prepared to the best of our ability there was some chaos getting everyone’s phone loaded up with the webpages and all slotted into the game board. This was anticipated but still took up a lot of our presenting time. We were able to run two quick fire rounds of our game which went well and exemplified the interactiveness and playfulness of the game. Some players expressed confusion with some of the screens saying that they were not sure exactly what they were doing, or couldn’t remember what the x-y coordinates affected, all questions and concerns we hoped would arise in order to spark conversation and inquiries into the relationship we have with content placed in front of us. In the critique we discussed future iterations and potential applications of the game.

Documentation:

img_4823

img_

Video Documentation

Code:

You can find the code for all ten of our webpages here: https://github.com/ramonacaprariu/cnc2017

Conclusion:

Experimenting in the final class was a valuable experience in helping us ascertain how our intentions with this project play out. We got the chance to observe how all the participants individually chose to interact with their screens and how natural it was to explore the different ways in which these interactions are possible.

Context:

For this project we looked to the classic structure of the game “Guess Who”. This game uses the same characters on two sides of the boards with defining features. We wanted to educate the class and ourselves by using the classic examples on P5.js (https://p5js.org/examples/). We also wanted to think about how people interact with screens, what are our first instincts? Do we swipe, do we tap, shake? How have the apps we use, and the interface of our screens determined our movements and relationships to interactive design? When there are no words, how do we interpret the information we are provided with? and ultimately, how can we communicate this with others?

References:

https://architizer.com/projects/plane-white

http://architizer.com/projects/microsoft-briefing-center/

http://devcenter.metavision.com/design/spatial-interface-design-principles-touch-to-see

http://alpha.editor.p5js.org/LuqianChen/sketches/rJsuy4F-e