Assistive Maker Challenge

Intro

On Saturday, our group did the Assistive Maker Challenge. In three hours, we have to come up with a solution for real life problems of some handicapped people. We have the prompt listed as follows

26 year old woman with a rare form of ALS leaving arms paralyzed but trunk and legs are strong. Although she does not have muscular control in her arms, she can shrug her shoulders to lift her arms a bit and if she swings her body, her arms swing. She wants to be able to put on her coat at work instead of asking coworkers for help.

I chose this case because she is about our age. And I think I understand why she would want to put on her coat at work independently. After reading the prompt for several times, we found two directions to solves the problems, that is, to either move her arms or move the coat. The final solution turned out to be the combination of the two. Then we started to search something online to see if there’s examples. However, we did not find anything useful. Then I though that if her arms are paralyzed and vertical to earth, what if we raise the coat up to fit her arms? With the rough idea in our mind, we then started to draw sketches, which we found really helpful when making the actual prototype.

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OUR PROTOTYPE

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We first went to the box room to find some materials for our prototype. We also thought that it would be more natural to put the coat on the hanger. What special is that we combine two hangers together and add some should pads to make her arms fit the coat easier. We also add some should pads. The shoulder pads can be adjusted so that they can fit all kinds of clothes. In term of actuating our prototype, we plan to make two buttons on the ground. By stepping on either one, she can adjust the height of the hanger(coat) by herself. We also made a 3D model of our design by using TinkerCAD.

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LIMITATIONS & LESSONS LEARNED

We realized that our design still has a lot of limitations. For example, we don’t know how she can put the coat on the hanger. She might still need a friend or colleague to help her with that. Additionally, in our tests, the coat fell off a lot. And she would not be able to pick it up when it happens. I was also impressed by the tests. We tried and failed for many times. And it reminds me that when getting along with handicapped people, you really have to be patient and persistent.

Assistive Technology Assignment 4

  • Design meets Disability

The reading first discussed several definitions of “disability”, which is frequently mentioned in the previous readings. However, this “official” claim from WHO saying that the majority of us are actually all disabled did not really change much. In real life, most of our infrastructure are still designed for the mainstream, that is, the able-bodied people. On the other hand, we see the “disabled” as another social group that is different from us. Like the article mentioned, we already put them in a categories regardless of culture, education and value diversities. At the same time, we ignore the similarities we have with them. Usually, when people are labeled as disabled, their qualities does matter. We imagine them to be different as well as inspirational. Actually, there is no infallible definition for disabled people or abled people. These social or personal diversities should all be considered when we tried to define “disability” For example, people might lost their senses in a certain environment. However, I believe what matters most is not to clearly give accurate definitions to these two group of audiences. In fact, as the article says, “Understanding for whom we are designing acknowledges that we are not designing for everybody at once”. Especially in areas such as infrastructure. What we really want is an inclusive society that accepts all differences and “designed for everybody”. Therefore, our infrastructure should be as functional as possible to fit every type of users. We should try to create an environment that focus more on our resonant needs instead of distinguished requirements. Instead of classifying people as abled or disabled, we can assuredly find some common ground between them. We have seen that a special design targeting at a specific need for disabled people might also has a huge market among abled people. Examples of this including books on tape and ramps and so forth. Hence, taking the needs of minority into consideration when we are designing might be more beneficial than we have thought before.

  • Feelings meets Testing

When reading this chapter, I was immediately attracted by the word “Experienced Prototyping”, which sounds very user-experience oriented. Compared with testing of which the purposes and outcomes are strictly restricted, “Experienced Prototyping” undoubtedly has more possibilities. I naturally link the word with customization, because they both involve a large amount of adaptations in the designing process. In other words, “Experienced Prototyping” is more suitable for inclusive designs targeting at all kinds of users whereas summative testings are often applied to a a fixed group of users and hence, less adaptive. The article also mentioned that our imagination is usually limited. We should put ourselves in the users’ shoes to make better products. Contextual factor as another indispensable part in the design process are also covered in “Experienced Prototyping”. As I mentioned earlier, it is impossible to talk about inclusive designs without considering the context. Therefore, we could see “Experienced Prototyping” as a great approach to embrace all diversities in inclusive designing and thus improve the user experience of everyone.

  • How to Make a Switch Adapted Toy

What the video impressed me most is that after seeing so many high-tech oriented assistive technology, most people would forget that assistive technology, apart from giving us gain autonomy and access to daily life activities, should also be applied to our daily lives. For example, in our case for a kid who lost his arms, besides a chair or an artificial limb, he might also want to toy to play and accompany with. And that’s the original purpose of the video. Therefore, instead of focusing on how Hannah adjust the toys, I am more interested in whether this idea could be applied to other aspects in our lives, for example, games that designed for both abled and disabled people and so forth.

Assistive Technology Assignment 3

Becky, Barbie’s friend who uses a wheelchair, was discontinued.

The way that Barbie’s company marketing Becky is definitely not appropriate. As a big company claiming that, “Barbie reflects the world girls see around them”, they should pay particular attention to how their managerial/business decisions would affect the the public. But apparently they did not commit to their promise of “looking at the accessibility of all Barbie accessories”. Even worse, Becky disappeared from shelves, which ironically contradicts to the company’s commitment to inclusivity.

The Barbie’s reading also reminds me of the Ted talk last week. We have always been expecting a lot from people with disability, trying to see miracles from them and being impressed about how they have changed theirselves to adapt the world. However, apart from asking them for inspiration, we rarely think what we can do for them. We admire their efforts for struggling with disability, while doing nothing to improve their situation. We never considered them as normal people or part of us, and ignore their feelings when building our new and carefully-designed infrastructures. Sometimes people even see them as PR opportunities, like the example of Becky. People might explain that, “it was too complicated to redesign Barbie world to fit Becky”. Yet it is not true, especially in the real world. It is impossible to eliminate the disabled like we eliminate Becky. On the contrary, the world should be designed to fit Becky. It is actually our society that we need to fix, not those disabled people.

New York Has a Great Subway, if You’re Not in a Wheelchair

The author’s perspective is unique because she made sharp contrasts between the lives before and after she got injured. I was deeply impressed when I saw that, “Since my accident, I have been humbled to realize the often dire effect of civic dysfunction on the vulnerable, and have had to recognize that some of what I once took for resourcefulness was in truth enabled by privilege”. For the author, she learned New York’s not wheelchair-friendly public transit system through her injury. And as a victim of both the accident and the poor system, she is appealing for a functional system, and more importantly, people’s attention. More importantly, she raised up this idea that, “devoting resources to help one group would not necessarily shortchanges others”. In fact, as “The Curb-Cut Effect” indicates, it is often good for all.

Living in the State of Stuck

This article points out that due the funding and attention needed, government and technology play really significant role in rehabilitation. Due to the time and social restriction, there’s still a long way to go for the disabled to have the same opportunities and resources with as non-disabled people. However, moral equivalents are always something that we can provided them.

Are Colleges Doing Enough to Make Online Videos Accessible for the Blind?

I edited several videos myself last semester for the communications lab. Not until I read this article did I realize that I have never thought about making my video available to blind people. However, I also aware that if I did that by spending extra time and effort on it, my video would be totally different from my original assumption. What if I know that my audience would not include blind people? What if the background works better than a speaker audio? I have no answers for this questions. As I read, “If it’s built in as part of the process, I don’t see cost as being a major determining factor…But if it’s something that has to be done after the fact, then yes, it can be expensive”. Maybe I should take the blind people into consideration and change my initial assumption at the beginning. It is really hard to ensure that the learning materials are accessible to everyone. It requires money, time, effort and sometimes the sacrifice of normal people. Would it be fair to people who can see? What should the painter do? Should they include audio in their work as well? Can the painting be completely translated into the audio? At least we know that for colleges, it is better for them to include audio files, images, titles as well as metadata in presentations so that every student can have access to them.

Assistive Technology Assignment 2

Response to The Cerecare Field Trip

This Wednesday our class went to the Cerecare Wellness Center, a place that takes good care of kids with cerebral palsy. I was very much touched by this trip, for both the staffs and the kids there.

I came there with personal biases, so it really impressed me that all the children there seemed to be so energetic and happy, just like any normal children at their age. We have a pretty good time there, singing songs, making friends and share our future dreams with them. I felt like we did not helped them at all. It is actually the other way around. They healed us, all of us. There kids are at different ages, but they get along well with each other. They helped each other to express their feelings or translate their words to us when we cannot understand, which is really really sweet. It seems like these kids live in such a good environment that they would never evaluate others with biases.

The wellness center provides them with good education, and importantly, prevented them from the outside malice. Therefore, I also have great respect for the founder of Cerecare and her sister, as well as all the staffs working there. As what I understand, it takes a lot of patience to speak with or teach these children. They may have to repeat their words or behaviors a hundred times a day, but they feel like their effort is worth it. I marvel at their heartfelt attachment to those kids, and have to admit that their work are admirable.

Everyday Use of Technology Charts Part 1

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Everyday Use of Technology Charts Part 2

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Assistive Technology Assignment 1

What surprised me most in the TED talk of Stella Young is her previous experience with the young kid. I felt ashamed because I, just like that boy, was waiting for her to inspire me since the beginning of the speech. She made this declaration that disabled people are real people and are not there to inspire. They should not be treated as exceptional, but as anyone else. She also brought up this idea called “inspirational porn”, which actually implies some certain degree of discrimination. And those pictures, which belongs to this categories, are “objectifying disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people.” They have neglected the feeling of disabled people that are actually in those pictures. Saying “You’re an inspiration” to them is not fair because they don’t view it as a disability, like Walby said. 

In “My 12 pairs of legs”, It is also interesting to see how kids could sometimes see disabled as  “super-abled”. Ironically, Aimee Mullins claims that she does not feel disabled while a lot of people keep reminding her of that, in other words, objectifying her. We should all be re-educated about how “disability” actually means and what is the most objective way to treat and talk to them.

From  “All Technology is Assistive”, I learned a brand new definition of “disability”. There’s also no reason to exceptionalize technology for disabled people. Assistive technology should not just imply “a separate species of tools designed exclusively for people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic impairments”, but for everyone in the society. Therefore, designers and artists should also tried to  “make more visible, critical and expansive technologies” instead of making exceptional ones only for “disabled people.” More importantly, we should all trying to build this world where “disability is not the exception, but the norm”.

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Assignment 4a

timg-3I got inspiration for my drawing robot from a form of Chinese art called “Dishu” (地书). Artists use Chinese calligraphy brush pens and water, instead of ink, to write on the ground. I was really impressed when I saw a professor performed “Dishu” on the 8th floor last semester. Hence it became my initial incentive to build a robot that can draw. Based on my previous deliverables, I decided to use light sensors to control the direction of the robot and the ultrasonic sensor to prevent it from the obstacles. It will act accordingly to whatever information it get from those sensors.

Final Deliverable: “Drawbot”

Material list:

    • Arduino Uno *1
    • Plastic structure *4
    • Caster wheel *1
    • Rubber wheel *2
    • Motor *2
    • Cell box *1
    • Battery *5
    • Servo Motor *1
    • Switch button *1
    • Bread board *1
    • Light sensor *2
    • Ultrasonic sensor *1
    • Marker *1
    • White Board *1

Intro and Background Story:

I got inspiration for my drawing robot from a form of Chinese art called “Dishu” (地书). Artists use Chinese calligraphy brush pens and water, instead of ink, to write on the ground. I was really impressed when I saw a professor performed “Dishu” on the 8th floor last semester. Hence it became my initial incentive to build this robot that can draw. Based on my previous deliverables, I decided to use light sensors to control the direction of the robot and the ultrasonic sensor to prevent it from the obstacles. It is worth mentioning that my idea has been evolving since the beginning. For example, I have changed the main structure, the drawing tool, and even the pattern of drawing for several times. Finally, I ended up making a robot that was inconsistent with initial assumption. Yet I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, under the help pf professor Rodolfo and other IMA fellows, I really enjoyed this process of constantly revising and polishing my robot. I am glad to see some self-improvement that came together with making the robot and I believe all the effort and time that I spent on this project is worth it.

Diagram:

In the process of revising the diagram, I was able to get a much deeper understanding of my robot as well as the logic hidden in it. It took me quite a lot of time testing and debugging, especially for the if conditions. Yet every time I found the mistake, I got a clearer image of how my robot would be working perfectly.WechatIMG5

Sketch:

Front view sketch 1 (below)

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Front view sketch 2 (below)

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Top view sketch 1 (below)

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Top view sketch 2 (below)

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Professor Rodolfo suggested that I should came up with a detailed, multi-dimensioned sketch before I started to make the robot. Hence, these sketches actually predated the initial form of the robot. And it works very well! Those sketches really helped me to make a blueprint for my project. My idea kept evolving since the beginning. Thus it was much easier for me to revise the sketch than making actual changes to the robot’s physical structure, as is shown in the uploaded pictures. My final design was a quadrate-shaped robot, with an extended rubber wheel on each side, and a caster ball in the front. Two big motors are attached to the rubber wheels so that the robot is strong enough to impel the marker to draw. The triangular-structure of three wheels also enables the robot to move freely. Above the caster ball is the breadboard, with a light sensor on each side. On the back side , I put the cell box and batteries there. The Arduino uno is on the upper layer of the batteries, attached with a servo motor. On the front side of the Arduino uno is the ultrasonic sensor.

 

Code1:

//This is the code that enables “Drawbot” to draw straight lines and circles according to order it receives.

#include <Ultrasonic.h>

int distance;

Ultrasonic ultrasonic(3);
const int speedPin_M1 = 5; //M1 Speed Control
const int speedPin_M2 = 6; //M2 Speed Control

const int directionPin_M1 = 4; //M1 Direction Control
const int directionPin_M2 = 7; //M2 Direction Control

const int LDR1 = A1; // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to
const int LDR2 = A0; // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to
int light1;
int light2;

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo; // create servo object to control a servo
// twelve servo objects can be created on most boards
int pos = 0; // variable to store the servo position

void setup()
{
Serial.begin(9600);
Serial.println(“start “);
myservo.attach(9); // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object
}

/* the main loop is a test of the smooth function. It generates a simulated square wave and then
switches in four different smoothing values. Watch the numbers scroll by as the filter value
slows down the response. */

void loop() {
light1 = analogRead(LDR1); //left
Serial.print(“left:”);
Serial.println(light1);
light2 = analogRead(LDR2); //right
Serial.print(“right:”);
Serial.println(light2);
ultrasonic.MeasureInCentimeters();
distance = ultrasonic.RangeInCentimeters;
Serial.print(“distance:”);
Serial.println(distance);

if (distance < 15) {
carStop();
Serial.println(“Stopping…”);
}

else {
if (light1 > 900 || light2 > 900) {
if (light1 > light2) {
carTurnLeft( 70, 70);
Serial.println(“Turning left…”);}
else if (light1 < light2) {
carTurnRight( 70, 70);
Serial.println(“Turning right…”);}

} else {carAdvance( 100, 100);
Serial.println(“Going FWD…”);}
}

delay(500);

}

void carStop() { // Motor Stop
digitalWrite(speedPin_M2, 0);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
digitalWrite(speedPin_M1, 0);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

void carBack(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Move backward
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed); //PWM Speed Control
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, HIGH);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, HIGH);
}

void carAdvance(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Move forward
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

void carTurnLeft(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Turn Left
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, HIGH);
}

void carTurnRight(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Turn Right
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, HIGH);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

The Final Revision:

After showing the above-mentioned robot to Professor Rodolfo, he asked me to further think about the meaning of the project, for example, in what scenarios would people use it? What is the point of having a drawing robot instead of drawing ourselves? Those questions never came to me before so I started to think about them.  Then I thought of spirographe, a toy that I love to play when I was a kid. I began to think that, what if my “Drawbot” can draw more complicated patterns instead of lines and circles? Under the help of Jack Du, I started to revise my code. Below is the final code that I have for this project.

Final Code:

//This is the code that enables “Drawbot” to draw certain patterns. I can also change the pattern it draw by playing with the code.

#include <Ultrasonic.h>

int distance;

Ultrasonic ultrasonic(3);
const int speedPin_M1 = 5; //M1 Speed Control
const int speedPin_M2 = 6; //M2 Speed Control

const int directionPin_M1 = 4; //M1 Direction Control
const int directionPin_M2 = 7; //M2 Direction Control

const int LDR1 = A1; // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to
const int LDR2 = A0; // Analog input pin that the potentiometer is attached to
int light1;
int light2;
int t;

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo; // create servo object to control a servo
// twelve servo objects can be created on most boards
int pos = 0; // variable to store the servo position

void setup()
{
Serial.begin(9600);
Serial.println(“start “);
myservo.attach(9); // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object
t = 0;
}

void loop() {
light1 = analogRead(LDR1); //left
Serial.print(“left:”);
Serial.println(light1);
light2 = analogRead(LDR2); //right
Serial.print(“right:”);
Serial.println(light2);
ultrasonic.MeasureInCentimeters();
distance = ultrasonic.RangeInCentimeters;
Serial.print(“distance:”);
Serial.println(distance);
if (distance < 20) {
carStop();
Serial.println(“Stopping…”);
}
else {
if (light1 > 900 || light2 > 900) {
if (light1 > light2) {
carTurnRight( 200, 200);
Serial.println(“Turning right…”);}
else if (light1 < light2) {
carTurnLeft( 200, 200);
Serial.println(“Turning left…”);}

} else {
t=t+50;
carAdvance(100, 100);
delay(t);
carTurnLeft(100, 100);
delay(500);
Serial.println(“Going in pattern ↖(^ω^)↗ “);
}
}
}
void carStop() { // Motor Stop
digitalWrite(speedPin_M2, 0);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
digitalWrite(speedPin_M1, 0);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

void carBack(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Move backward
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed); //PWM Speed Control
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, HIGH);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, HIGH);
}

void carAdvance(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Move forward
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

void carTurnLeft(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Turn Left
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, HIGH);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

void carTurnRight(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Turn Right
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, LOW);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, HIGH);
}

void carGoPattern(int leftSpeed, int rightSpeed) { //Go in Pattern
analogWrite (speedPin_M2, leftSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M1, HIGH);
analogWrite (speedPin_M1, rightSpeed);
digitalWrite(directionPin_M2, LOW);
}

Assignment 6: The Computer, the Robot and the Sheep Dog

I found this article interesting when the author mentioned that robots were gradually put into massive production through cheap assembly lines in order to fit more personal uses. The name of PR, personal robot, has revealed this intimacy that people and robots shared. People trust them just like how they trust their computers. The author foresaw the future in which people largely depend on PRs and Androbot BOBs in our daily lives from 1980s.

However, the article also went into deeper ethical concerns despite the positive future the author conceived about robots. Arthur first predict the robot development in the next 15 or 20 years starting from his time. He differentiated appliance robots with those who have machine intelligence. The latter obviously had this ability of self-learning, which made them more like human. He then used a sheep dog metaphor for those intelligent robots, for they both could be trained/reprogrammed. Arthur pointed out that the development and massive use of these robots might completely change the way we live. Yet it might also bring unpredictable threats for they were likely to grow out of control.

Assignment 5a

At the time when the concept of robot was first brought up, it mainly refers to those machines that were highly used in the industrial revolution to accelerate manufacture. As the society develops, the idea of robots also has to evolve to fit the environment. It is interesting to see that the definition of robot in the same era differentiates with contexts. According to the author, the notion of “robot” has had an ambience which relates more to science fiction that it does to the reality of what is happening in the workplace. However, unlike what is said in most science fictions, the premise that new robot technologies seek to replace human beings rather than emulate them in a more tedious and environmentally hostile jobs are rejected as a false on in most European industries. Even though many people have hold critical opinions on robot decision making, the author believes that the development of technology, for example computer control,  not only ensures the function but also the security and flexibility of robots, as an improved competitiveness of products.