Week 4: Research Project (Rudi) – Kennedy

 Research Project

I agree with the Merriam Webster dictionary’s definition of interaction; it is described as “mutual or reciprocal action or response”. This definition is broad enough to apply to the entire “spectrum of interactivity” as mentioned by Chris Crawford in his book The Art of Interactive Design. However, a common issue that I have found was that the interactivity of everyday objects seem to score very low on the interactivity scale. Those that are considered to have a “high” level of interactivity were very limited in terms of everyday use. I would like to see more devices that do not interrupt our daily lives but integrate themselves naturally.

Our project was bred out of the idea that we’d like to have users be seamlessly integrated with their environment wherever they are. Thus the wrist bands were born. The bands do not obstruct your immediate surroundings and do not require troublesome input or output devices. As a wearable device, it is portable and convenient for all users. In addition to the environment, users can also interact with other people. This aspect was very important for us as a group because many devices seemed to primarily cater to long distance online communication. If there was a way to facilitate better in person communication society would see benefits in communal living and overall feeling.

Using the basic hand gestures seemed very useful given that they do not require a shared language. A new user could receive this device and understand the general implications of each gesture. This concept is similar to how sign language works so, just as how sign language continuously develops and grows the gesture database could also.

 

Basic Outline


Gestures

Phone Call

Unlock Door

Call Taxi

Signal User – Get someone’s attention

 

The interactice project I did not like was an interactive store front advertisement by Starbucks (https://creators.vice.com/en_us/article/mg9xxx/interactive-gesture-controlled-starbucks-storefront). The advertisement was clever enough where casual passersby could stop and “make” their own Tzao Tea. Users would do this by dragging ingredients together via sensors and a large animated interface. This advert seems entertaining but, I did not like how it ripped people out of their immediate surroundings. It acted as a portal to a hyper commercialized game arcade for users to be lured into. It comes across as a cheap marketing ploy to drive sales and conversion. I wish there were more layers or some level of depth into this device.

 

A project that I found interesting was a wearable prosthetic that detects air pollution (https://creators.vice.com/en_us/article/8qvxmb/wearable-prosthetic-detects-air-pollution). This project included a detailed explanation of how the device worked and also its intention. It’s literal function is to instill the “flehmen response” into humans. The “flehmen response” is an animal’s natural reaction, curling back of the top tip, to smelling toxic chemicals in the air. By simulating this reaction, the artist hopes to create a similar natural response in humans to pollution over many years of evolution. This idea sounds ludacris however, the artist’s message is what I find very interesting. She looked at the an issue plaguing our world today and presented her own satirical commentary. While intricate in design, the device’s primary function is to have people realize how severe environmental degradation has gotten. This is the type of projects I strive to produce in the future.

 

Week 3: Sensors (Rudi) – Kennedy

Circuit #1: Infrared Distance Sensor

Components:

Bread Board

Arduino

Micro Servo 90 – the motor used the 5V power source to spin in a clockwise direction (given the particular flow used)

Infrared Sensor – detected objects in front by sending out a infrared light and receiving how much was able to bounce back to the sensor.

This circuit was fairly simple to put together. We did have some problems with the motor not rotating at times; however, we are pretty sure that was due to overheating. To fix the problem we unplugged the arduino from the power source and waited a bit. Next test the motor seemed to work.

 

Questions:

What did you intend to assemble in the recitation exercise? If your sensor/actuator combination were to be used for pragmatic purposes, who would use it, why would they use it, and how could it be used?

We created a circuit using both a 130 Motor and an infrared distance sensor. I liked the idea of using an infrared distance sensor because it was something very simple and could be used to make everyday devices such as automatic doors. Our particular device could be used in conjunction with the fan blade attached to the motor to make an automatic cooling station. Events such as sports games can get extremely hot when the sun is beaming and there is no breeze; therefore, our motor and sensor combination could act as a device to cool down spectators in a crowded arena. This would be beneficial because it would prevent the waste of electricity by only turning on when there are people in front of the sensor.

Can you identify your circuit with any device you interact with in your daily life? How might your circuit be used to have a meaningful interaction?

As stated before, the infrared sensor could be used in automatic sliding doors. Another example is the lights usually found in garages. These light only turn on when it senses an object in front. This prevents the garage light from staying on all night while also making it easier for people to find their way at night.

The circuit we built could be used as a monitor for users to interact with. For example, if the blades of the fan has LEDs on them they could spin fast enough that an image is produced. The sensor would prevent excess energy use and user addiction by having strict limits of use (the sensor must detect the user in front at a certain distance). We could use this “screen” to video chat with friends or engage in digital communal activities.

How is code similar to following a recipe or tutorial?

Each line of code gives a specific set of instructions. The arduino interface uses C to tell it’s components what to do; this particular language requires the programmer to identify the exact data type thus, giving the code even more detail. This further solidifies the idea that code is very similar to a recipe. I think tutorials are primarily narrow minded and too specific. They give a set of actions that produce a specific result. In contrast, the same recipe may not always produce the same result. You can use the same recipe to make your mother’s chocolate cake but it will never taste exactly like her’s. You may have added a smidge more of sugar and a bit less of chocolate so it came out different but, in the end it is still a chocolate cake. Coding is similar in that you can follow the same logic, have slightly different code, and produce various results. In the end you still have some input that produces some output.

In Language of New Media, Manovich describes the influence of computers on new media. In what ways do you believe the computer influences our human behaviors?

I think that computers have forced humans to reevaluate the concept of intellect. Before computers humans were compared to humans. The moment the first computer was faster than the human brain we have had to rethink what it meant to be smart. I think that a different but similar phenomenon will happen in the coming years. We will soon have to completely rework what we think it means to have creativity. There are currently computers that seamlessly work through intricate algorithms to produce great sums of data but there are also computers who work though their own algorithms to produce pieces of art. The introduction of computers capable of creativity will create a revolution with every creative field just as computers with high computing power did to tech, business, and education.

Week 2: Arduino Basics (Rudi) – Kennedy Cambra-Cho

General Components:

Arduino – is a programmable microcontroller board that

Breadboard – allows circuits to be easily assembled for prototyping by forgoing soldering

Jumper cables – connects elements of a circuit to be connected over a larger area of space making it more comprehensible and easier to patch

Circuit #1: Fade

Components:

Resistor – metal wire that restricts the flow of the current

LED (Light Emitting Diode) – emits light at different intensities according to the program

From this first circuit I noticed the importance to attention to detail when working between the breadboard and the arduino uno. Simply placing jumper cables in the wrong port on the arduino can sometimes cause unnecessary extra work.

 

Circuit #2: toneMelody

Components:

Speaker/buzzer – emits a buzzer sound at different pitches according to the program

I enjoyed building this circuit but I found figuring out the program was much more entertaining. Once we got the hang of how the numbers affected the pitch of the buzzer you can make almost any tune.

 

Circuit #3: Your Choice

Components:

Resistor – metal wire that restricts the flow of the current

Button – input device used to send the pattern back to the program

LED (Light Emitting Diode) – emits light at different intensities according to the program

Speaker/buzzer – emits a buzzer sound when the program begins and also when the wrong input is entered

  This circuit made me wish we had a larger breadboard. Everything seemed crammed even when we tried to plan ahead and keep the jump cables out of the way of buttons. With the various components involved it was much harder to assemble and to fix when problems would arise. Simply pulling out chords and replacing them became an troublesome task. Overall this circuit was interesting and did work in the end but I think a second attempt may prove more successful.

 

Questions:

Reflect on different interactions with technologies that you have observed in your daily life. Pick a few of these and write down your own definition of interaction based on your observations.

Two devices that I interact with everyday are the turnstiles in the metro station and my cellphone. The latter attempts to act as a “highly interactive” device while the former would be considered very low level on the interactivity scale. Using cell phone features such as Siri which try to respond semi-independently to user’s prompts show what “interactivity” is trying to achieve. However, along the way we have devices such as the turnstiles; they simply respond to user’s interaction based on a rigid set of rules. Despite their simplicity I do think their response is valid. By allowing you through they send the silent signal that your metrocard has a positive balance. I think that the word “interactive” means the pass of information between two players. This is shown by both devices while at different levels of interactivity.

During the assembly of the circuits, we used many electronic components as inputs and outputs. Which of these components do you recognize in the circuit?

Buttons were used as electronic inputs for the Zelda Simon Says circuit. They allowed the user to enter the pattern visualized by the LED which acted as electronic outputs. These two components acted similar to the keyboard and screen on a computer. Users pressed buttons to enter information for the program to read and respond accordingly with the visual output of the LED.  

If you have 100000 LEDs of any brightness and color at your disposal, what would you make and where would you put it?

If I had 100000 LEDs I would build a model of another solar system and I would hang it from the ceiling in my room. I’d choose to do this because I like the idea of reworking classic childhood projects. It would give me a chance to work with something familiar and new at the same time.

Which reflections about the nature of interaction can you make about the Figure I.1 in the Physical Computing reading?

 

Through this image we can infer that “interacting” with something requires one or more of the five senses. The technology around us only recognize the active participants in our “communication” thus, body parts such as eyes, ears, and fingers act as primary outputs and inputs. From this image I feel that our interaction with technology has been very limited. In order, to expand the levels of engagement with technology I feel that it is worthwhile studying how those with physical disabilities interact with tech. By studying how people compensate for missing sensory inputs or outputs I think that we can find more innovative engagement practices.

Week 1: Electronics and Soldering – Rudi

General Components: *used in every circuit

Breadboard – acts as a work space to connect components 

LM7805 Voltage Regulator – keeps the voltage at an appropriate level so as to stabilize the circuit

100 nF (0.1uF) Capacitor – device that stores some energy passing through the circuit so as not to short out the circuit

Push-Button Switch – acts like a doorbell button; pushing it causes a response

12 volt power supply – provides the energy meant to power the circuit

Jumper Cables (Hook-up Wires) – act as connectors between all the components; makes things easier to see by being able to spread them out with jumper cables along the breadboard

 

Circuit #1: Door Bell

Components:

Buzzer (or speaker) – produces sound

Circuit #1 was the easiest to assemble; however, we soon discovered putting a circuit together may be the easiest part in general. Trying to figure out why what seemed to be a completely sound circuit isn’t working is much more difficult. On our third try we got it to work.

One problem we found to be is that we were not paying close enough attention to the positive and negative sides of our components thus, making the circuit not work. Things like the capacitor and the voltage regulator needed to be properly placed and checked because they are core elements to every circuit we built.

 

Circuit #2: Lamp

Components:

220 ohm Resistor – is a wire-like device that limits the current flow; creates a bottleneck effect

LED – bulb that lights up

I felt circuit #2 was harder to assemble but the automatic response of an LED is much more welcome than the buzzer from circuit #1. Here we had some trouble orienting our jumper cables across the breadboard. I initially made the circuit compact and close together but by spreading it out and using more space, I found it was much easier to inspect each connection. By reorienting the circuit and finding our problem was the incorrectly placed ground jumper cable, we were able to get circuit #2 working.

 

Circuit #3: Dimmable Lamp

Components:

10K ohm Variable Resistor (Potentiometer) – device with a dial that can increase and decrease the flow of electricity going through the circuit; creates a similar effect as the 220 ohm resistor but can be changed by turning a knob.

LED – bulb that lights up

Circuit #3 took the longest to patch but we eventually got the bulb to dim and brighten. We found that it was simply another power and ground wiring error we had made in our assembly. While building the circuits, I found it much more helpful to write out the circuit first, even if it is already shown in the assignment, because it made me think about where everything would be placed before hand. When we did not do this, we would constantly be glancing at the diagram while trying to place our components. This seems a little inefficient because it caused us to have to fix a lot of wiring problems along the way.  

 

While trying to find the errors in our circuit, Sean mentioned a common problem solving technique or “rule” that I think is was very helpful. He said to only change one thing at a time when debugging or patching up a project. This way if the status changes you know exactly where your issue is. When trying to find where our circuit was failing, this helped us immensely. We were able to isolate problems and find the solution much faster. One down side was that it did take a while to test each component for each circuit. This technique may be best utilized when testing long term projects or prototyping a new idea.

Response Questions:

After reading The Art of Interactive Design, do you think that the circuits you built today include interactivity? Please explain your answer.

This weeks reading introduced an idea I have never bothered to think of before. I never questioned the concept of “interactivity” or it’s over abundance in the commercial sphere. After completing the reading it does seem quite silly to have things labeled as “new and interactive” when humans will instinctively engage with these products. It is not like we were not interacting with these things before but the sales gimmick of “interactivity” seems to hook consumers on the idea that this new iteration of the product connects with another element or layer of the human experience. I do like the idea of “levels of interactivity” because it leaves room for both the mundane and revolutionary. So, I think that our circuits today did include some interactivity; although, it would rate quite low on the scale of interactivity I do think they did incorporate some elements of the concept. An example, could be how the circuit responds with the LED or buzzer. Another way could be how the voltage regulator heats up as a response to dissipating some energy through heat. 

How can Interaction Design and Physical Computing be used to create Interactive Art? You can reference Zack Lieberman’s video or any other artist that you know .

An extreme form of interactive art could be the use of machine learning to create an artificially intelligent piece. For example Robbie Barrat’s use of A.I. to generate paintings can be seen as a form of interactive performance art. A user’s experience of generating art using this method could be seen as art itself.

 

Week 11: Response to Rachel Greene (Leon & Nimrah) – Kennedy

Reading Rachel Greene’s article, I hoped to gain a more clear understanding of what exactly “net.art” is; however, upon completing the article, I feel that I have an more vague understanding of “net.art” than before (Greene). Greene defines “net.art” as “communications and graphics, email, text and images, referring to and merging into one another” (Green). This definition deviates from everything I understand to be art. While art can hold social significance through its “‘optical’ aesthetic”, the idea or message it attempts to convey is its primary purpose. I suppose that the general notion of “net.art” seems to be a visual or auditory piece utilizing the internet with a purpose.

“Net.art” seems to actively subvert the traditional art scene while also playing into similar aesthetic tropes. As artists strive to present an innovative and original piece, they often create work that mirrors the tones set by abstract art. Shapes, construct, and design act as embodiments of ideas and feelings. The messages encased touch on everything from serious social issues to the skillfully executed, simplistic ideas of Rafael Rozendaal.

I feel that the ideas of internet art explored in Rachel Greene’s article can coincide with Paul Graham’s “Hackers and Painters” interpretation of software code. Greene’s inclusion of the collective I/O/D’s web browser touches upon Graham’s central idea of code being viewed as aesthetically pleasing. Best stated by Simon Pope, “We tried to expand on the idea of ‘software as culture’”(Greene). When good code is produced, programmers recognize the various layers to its “beauty” (Graham). The execution of clear logic, clean syntax, and finally desired output are the general benchmarks for “beautiful code” (Graham). Net art pieces that bring code to the forefront exhibit a new, modern art form. Pieces such as I/O/D’s web browser attempts to accomplish the same idea with an ambitious take on an established tool of the internet community and execute it in an original way.

Week 10: Response to Paul Graham and Paul Rand (Leon & Nimrah) – Kennedy

Paul Graham’s “Hackers and Painters” and Paul Rand’s “Computers, Pencils and Brushes” both frame “design” as the paramount concern for creators. Rand uses the word “design” nineteen times within his article and Graham tallies up a total twenty-five. This emphasis on the word “design” outlines both author’s desire to convince their audiences of the importance of design over static creation.

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