Made in China Reflection

This class made me realise first hand exactly how accessible it is to manufacture or create products in China. I know now that if I have an idea, I have the tools and the knowledge to bring that idea to life. One thing I learned from Dee was to use the Chinese Alibaba website. I knew that there was an Alibaba in Chinese and assumed it was the same as Alibaba.com, that the site was designed to be used on English or the English version was a response to my IP address or browsing history. Dee introduced me to 1688.com, the actual Chinese Alibaba website. While this a platform to buy wholesale from factories, the actual app looks and functions exactly like Taobao. (God bless China)

I used my experiences on shopping on taobao and dealing with customer service representatives in China to message representatives from the factories and identify what services they could specifically provide for me. Due to taobao shopping, I expected these conversations to be fairly casual and with quick responses, however dealing with these factories, I was surprised at how easily it was to explain what I needed and wanted. I messaged them using the in-app Alibaba chatting client and called the or added their wechat as necessary. They were all fairly accommodating and even went out of their way to help me, seemingly available at any hour.

This was good for me because I found it difficult to set aside time for researching factories and manufacturers. Much of my interactions were brief, direct, and conducted while in a moving vehicle. I’m not sure how necessary this was for research, but with my limited Chinese skills, just reading the listing wasn’t enough to figure out what exactly the factory was selling. For this reason, I needed to talk with a representative.

I always look forward to group work because I think it’s really important to learn to work well with others and I appreciate opportunities to practice. From working on this project, I was left confused and insecure about my approach to teamwork. At the same time I think I learned some things about myself that I hope I can apply or look for in later experiences. I think that this project suffered from a problem that Christian discussed earlier in the semester: one partner losing interest.

It was difficult for me to determine exactly when I needed to give up on the idea of partnership and work on my own, while I realised at about halfway through the semester that I should treat this as a solo project, it wasn’t until after the Shenzhen trip that I fully accepted that I was the only one responsible for materializing the project. If I had been more self-aware, I should have known from around the time we were working on 3D models of our prototypes or perhaps earlier. We approached each assignment on a case by case basis, deciding how to divide the work when we received each assignment. While it seemed to me there was an implicit assumption Dee would contribute greatly towards sourcing each material, I found and purchased every item except for the scarves.

While this does not fit my ideal team project dynamic, I realised that I needed to be the one in a management role on the team. I needed identifying directions to pursue, clearly and meticulously assigning tasks to reach these goals, ensuring my instructions are clearly understood, and reminding/checking up on the status of these tasks. Not only was I responsible for holding myself accountable to make progress, but also for doing the same as my partner. This is also not my ideal management dynamic. I learned what I really needed from partner and what it takes to get a major project such as manufacturing a product to come to fruition.

My individual working style, I’ve realised I struggle to balance major projects and must work one until completion at a time and circumstances at the time (attempting to finish two capstone projects along with other school work) the mental load of managing every individual aspect in this project was very high and made it difficult for me to clearly identify what I needed to put my energy towards to complete the active filtering scarf. I need a partner who can help carry the project and I can depend on to hold themselves accountable and balance out the work.

Open communication was very important towards accomplishing this project. If something wasn’t explained well it wouldn’t get done. It also helped ease tension. I learned the importance of honest conversation and expectation setting. I hope to carry this knowledge and skills with me to whatever team and whichever roles I may find myself in the future.

Final Documentation

This product was inspired by a desire to improve the air pollution mask wearing experience. The goal was to create a tasteful product to make breathing comfortable and produced less environmental impact than traditional air pollution masks. Even as someone who is concerned with health and air quality, I often forget to bring my mask with me when I leave the house. However, in cold weather, I rarely forget my scarf. By combining the mask and scarf, the Active Filtering Scarf should solve this issue of forgetting a mask. 

The Active Filtering Mask is an air pollution mask hidden within a scarf to make the wearer appear more discrete while still protecting their health. By implementing a fan into the mask and scarf combination, the fan helps air flow with less restraint. The only disposable component part of the product is the filter, which should be changed frequently to ensure that air is filtering properly. The valve for the fan will be encouraged to be removed and reused on new filters, but some filters will be sold with the valves already attached. Along with the filter, the snap buttons that fix the mask to the scarf will be thrown out with the fan. The rest of the materials, scarf, fan, elastic, half of the snap buttons, can all be re-used, which reduces the consumer’s waste.

 

Bill of Materials: 

Click the image to see the Google sheet with the BOM.

The two main and fundamental suppliers for this project are the fan/valve suppliers and the mask supplier. The fan supplier is an OEM manufacturer, 深圳市风恒科技有限公司,  based in Shenzhen. They can help us put a logo on the fan and also with the assembly of the fan/valve and mask. The mask supplier, 东莞市马斯奥防护科技有限公司, is based in Dongguang. They can help us create a new mask shape by creating a mould and for the mask. To create a new mould, it would require about 7000 RMB and 14 days. The rest of the suppliers are the fabric market, but could also be found online. The cashmere scarf was something that Dee found. I really liked the way it felt, so we decided to go with this particular scarf. It could be exchanged out for a different type of fabric.

Concept

Initially, there were a few different concepts around clean air with a comfortable, aesthetically appealing experience. The first and most basic involved a removable PM2.5 filter and a scarf. Responsibility for creating the seal falls on the wearer. The direction built upon the first concept, but with active filtering. The removable filter became a structured mask with a fan attached to aid airflow. Lastly, the final concept was directed at pet owners and their pets. Technology similar to the active filtering scarf would be implemented into a pet’s carrying case for a pet.

Works Like Prototype

Armed with the information and experiences from the functions-like prototype, I had a clearer idea of the design and materials needed for the functions-like prototype. After receiving some samples of fans and valves from the OEM manufacturer, I was able to verify that these could be included in the mask and scarf materials. I assembled the active filtering scarf with the fan and valve connected to the scarf. The filter attaches to the scarf with snap buttons for easy removal and disposal. The scarf can be held in place with two adjustable elastic bands. The active filtering scarf was designed for sustainability, so the only disposable product is the filter material and metal snap buttons. After testing the functions-like prototype, I discovered a problem with air flow that needed to be addressed before going into the manufacturing process.

Alpha Prototype

This prototype is the final prototype before manufacturing. It builds upon all the findings from the previous scarves. This prototype implements a smaller more fitted mask. For a discrete use, a portion of the scarf material made available to cover the fan. Still designed with sustainability in mind, the valve can be removed so that only the filter and snap buttons are disposable. For ease of use for the customer, Filters with the valve attached, are also available for sale in addition to valve-less filters. Unfortunately, due to budget and time limitations, I was not able to manufacture the custom mask shape.

     

New Steps

To source the materials needed, I searched extensively for the correct manufactures and developed relationships with factories important to this product. The mask manufacturer I found would create a mould then manufacture custom made masks and the fan manufacturer would assemble the scarf. Now I understand the specific services that each factory would provide for me in the event that I wanted to manufacture the active filtering scarf. 

 

 

 

Week 3

Click the photo to see the full presentation.

Presenting the idea to the class was a good experience. It helped me feel validated that this was worth persuing and they provided some interesting ideas that I hadn’t considered before, one being a fan to place in the mask the fan would help air flow. The second would be to hide the mask inside a scarf which would allow the wearer to protect their lungs in a more discrete way.

Week 9

Assignment: 

  • Cashmere scarf
    • No tassles
    • Hole in the scarf so the fan can attach
    • The valve will be in the scarf so that it can also attach more easily
    • We would hole this could be done in assembly
    • Snap buttons to attach to the scarf and filter
      • Could remove and reuse the snap buttons — buttons could be on the scarf, then holes on the filter
      • Redesign the scarf to be more tight to the face; Rudi showed this
      • Could reduce materials and elastic while still creating a good seal
  • Assembly: ideally it would be assembled by the fan factory, so it could but used in one place — this may be not realistic
  • Materials: 6; with the nose bridge 7

 

I’m not sure how realistic it is to assume the factory will be able to sew everything necessary. In the end, the assembly may have to be done in two parts or all in one place on the scarf making side. The two-part assembly would be scarf and fan then scarf to filter and elastic.

 

Journal:

From my perception of sustainability, it has always been about creating a product and running a company as efficiently as possible. I think the tradeoff through is that sustainability requires a lot of up font thinking, design, and costs that may not seem worth it or too overwhelming at the beginning. However, if one can think in the long term (long term may even mean generations from now) to produce and function sustainability is more cost effective in the long run. Employee retention/happiness means you don’t have to waste time and money training new hires. In addition, employees may take less pay for a better working experience. Keeping customers happy means repeat customers who will advocate to their friends and peers. To use sustainable energy and resources ensure es the company could have a feature. Optimizing the supply chain and design will also keep costs lower.

Final Writing Assignment

The year 2000 marked the first time in history that US census allowed people to self-identify as more than a single race. With this change to the census, over six million mixed-race individuals materialized seemingly out of thin air. Ten years later, the US census reported this population had grown by 32% to 10 million people, while the total US population increased by only 9%. This growing population of mixed race individuals has inspired interest and awareness in this group. Much of the research on mixed race people focus on defining the group and determining why they may identify a certain way, rather than lived experiences of mixed race people. Racial Recognition responds to the mixed race experiences providing necessary space for a small but growing group of people.
Rather than examining others’ categorizations of this social group, the project emphasizes their individual identity. By taking conversations that self-identified mixed-race people choose to share online, Racial Recognition brings individual experience to the forefront. A database of experiences was created after analyzing these conversations found through mixed-race communities and hashtags. The piece comments on common sentiment expressed by this group: their bodies not representing identity to the world accurately. Frequent keywords from these conversations are overlaid on the viewer’s face creating a unique word cloud of these experiences. Often divisive and contradictory, these words map to specific points on the face. The words the user’s movement and obscure the face inconsiderate of the viewer’s will.
Despite differing combinations of races and ethnicities, mixed race individuals can relate to the sentiments expressed, bringing virtual or previously unarticulated thoughts into a physical space. Racial Recognition adds to the mixed race narrative by uniting these experiences on a single users face, perhaps learning something new about their individual or shared identity. At The same time, mono-racial people are able to experience the dichotomy between identity and body that defines the mixed race daily experience. All users can simultaneously recognize the absurd nature of racial categorizations and the real world implications of these artificial classifications on the individual.

Week 11 Update

Due to focusing all my attention on social sciences this week, I haven’t made significant progress this week. I plan to create and testing some new layouts this weekend, per Rune’s advice and would be happy to post a second update based on these results.

I can write a bit about what I’ve heard from people on my most recent updates, first that I should focus making all the text legible on the persons face. This way they won’t have to go out of their way to read the text on the screen. Other advice I’ve received has been to try to improve the movement of the elements on the screen to make them seem more natural. An example I was given was used give the moving elements some sort of elasticity or spring-like properties to make interactions more satisfying for the user.

fullmoon

fullmoon

Collaborators: Mars Zhao and Pearl Basinski

Tech: unreal engine, speech recognition plugin

Game Design Document 

Project Description:
Like the waxing and waning of the moon each month, humans perceive time in a cyclical fashion. In reality, life runs in linearly which fundamentally contradicting our perception of time and our journey through life.

Fullmoon is an introspective virtual reality experience inspired by the life and work of Paul Bowles. By travelling through different life stages, the user is lead on an existential journey encouraging them to re-examine their relationship their own autonomy.

Fullmoon uses cinematic techniques to create an immersive experience. In addition, the experience makes use of teleportation, room-scale specialization, and voice recognition for a fully immersive experience.

 

 

 

Below are screen grabs from the experience

Scene 1: Study

Scene 2: Full moon rise

Scene 3: Childhood afternoon

Scene 4: Are you lost? 

Week 8: Progress

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to develop the webcam mirror component of my project. I decided to use a facial recognition javascript library called CLM tracker. My first step was to figure out how to actually use and implement the library to suit my own needs. The main uses of the library seemed to be face detection, emotion detection, and face morphing.

I needed to be able to determine the positions of different points that the library was reading and overlay text on top of them. CLM tracker’s facial model identifies 71 points on a users face. I decided to try to track one specific point on the tip of the nose. After finding the coordinates of the position of this point, I was able to try to place text over the point. There was a problem that surfaced when this happened, the text was reversed, or ‘mirrored’ along with the rest of the video captured.

The direction I was recommended was to try facial tracking in p5. There was a p5 adaptation of the CLM tracker and I was familiar with p5. With what I had learned from using CLM tracker, I was able to identify and track points on the face, then overlay legible text on these points.

From there, I was able to do some user testing, just with the facial and text tracking and the content. After getting these parts of the post completed, I thought I tried to determine the user interface for my project. I created some different layouts in photoshop in an attempt to determine the best way for me to design the installation. I’ve written more about user testing in another blog post.

After using the p5 version of the facial tracking, I decided I was a bit unhappy with the way that p5 was utilizing the CLM tracker. It lagged frequently, almost to a point where the face didn’t seem to be tracking. I revisited the original javascript library to try to make the text read in a more legible direction. After making some adjustments with the CSS in and with the position of the x-value, the text was able to be reversed. I replaced the text with an ellipse, which is what would place over this part of the face.

Now that I know text will be legible, I will move forward with adding the interface and text components.

User Testing

I divided the user testing into two different sections, the first was to test the interaction and the second was to test the aesthetics of the project. Users 1 and 2 provided feedback on the interaction. Even when I was testing the text overlay and reflection by myself, it was obvious I would need to find a different way to overlay the text. Most of the posts were much too long to be simply read.

User 2 remarked that the text seemed like too much to read. When I showed them the text in another form, they revoked that their initial assertion. I decided that it was important to convey the message in way that encouraged the viewers to read other people’s stories. If they felt that there was too much for them to read, then that would get in the way of the interaction. The user did say that they found the content relatable, they could relate the insecurities or unhappiness about their bodies.

When reading the different comments about certain facial features, User 1 said they could discern a theme throughout the posts provided, but it was not obvious that based on appearances that the block of text was related to a specific body part. User 2 echoed this sentiment.

I decided to ask the users how what they thought about potential layouts. I offered them different suggestions and they responded to them with their own ideas. Based on their feedback as well as my own ideas about ways the information could be conveyed, I made a few different layouts and asked users what they thought about them.

User 3 liked layout #2, which had floating boxes over the an entire screen that displayed the camera’s vision. They said they thought it would be more effective to have the whole screen ‘reflect’ the viewer, with text overlaying the viewer’s face. As for different floating diagrams and points, they liked the ones with blue ‘shadows,’ or the boxes on the left side of my layout.

Conversely, User 4 liked the first layout, which had the face in the middle of a yellow frame. They really liked the vibrancy that the layout provided, likening it to Buzzfeed or Vice. They thought the frame would work better if the project was web-based, as the facial recognition library would have a difficult time recognizing faces with a cluttered background. I would have no control over a user’s background in their own space. User 3 agreed with User 4 in regards to the immersive quality that the second layout provided if I were able to control the background. They liked the bottom left-hand box and the blue dot with a black outline.

Moving forward, I will probably progress with the second layout, but consider the first layout if developing this project for the web. I’m concerned with the lag that p5 gives the project and may re-visit the original library to try to see if I can make the text read the correct way.