Class: Interaction Lab
Professor: Marcela Godoy
Student: Milica Gligic
During this week’s presentation, speakers from Xinchejian hackerspace presented about their most recent projects. I found all three projects to be very interesting, innovating and inspiring.
Andy Garcia’s farming project reminded me that all ideas originate from a problem you are trying to solve. It is becoming much harder to farm or know where our food is coming from. In cities like Shanghai most of us live in small or medium size apartments, with limited space. I liked how space and time efficient this project was. It took him a bit over two weeks to grow the vegetables, and there is no need for soil.
Andrea’s and Adele’s project was inspired by another problem, plastic waste. It was interesting to see how the project evolved over time. As they pointed out, every project is a learning experience through which you try many things until you are satisfied with the outcome. This was best shown by the objects they sent around in the class. Some of the earlier pieces were rough, but they got a lot nicer over time.
Eduardo Alarcon gave a presentation about TOKY. An arduino like micro-controller, which unlike Arduino uses everyday language to communicate. I thought this was a much needed development, not because it had many sensors and outputs but also because it appeared very easy to use. I was fascinated by how simple the coding was, it was almost like putting together a puzzle. I think this simplicity is a huge advantage for TOKY, as people with an idea do not need much coding experience to start a project. I think it is a great tool to bridge the gap between technology and an average user.
PROFESSOR: MARCELA GODOY
I was impressed by TOKY and Precious Plastic most. I think TOKY is a kind of upgrade version of Arduino. The board and components are easier to be connected. Modules replace codes. They are more convenient for user to use. Arduino and Arduino IDE are more basic, or maybe lower, than TOKY’s hardware and software. I learned to play robots in my junior middle school. At that time, I also used modular programming because it is easier to understand and use. So I felt very familiar with TOKY’s design in the guest talk class. Although TOKY’s products are more convenient, I think it is still necessary for us to learn and use Arduino now because only when we have a clear mind of low-level knowledge can we understand higher-level applications and designs. Another impressing project is Precious Plastic. Admittedly, it is attractive because the results are very beautiful and practical. Two team members designed a process of recycling the waste plastic and turning them into articles of daily use. Since the plastic is of different colors, the final articles are also colorful. The patterns are random, so the recycling process is like magic. I think those articles are so interesting that I may buy some from Precious Plastic’s wechat account.
I found the talk last week from the hackers from Xinchejian to be quite insightful and inspiring. While Eduardo Alarcon was speaking, he made a really great point about the Internet of Things (IOT) being missing in education. It made me wonder how many other technologies and concepts are mainly relegated to the world of big businesses and major industry, and yet have the potential to be made accessible to many more people. One thing I wonder about the TOKYmaker is this: given the modularity of the components that TOKY uses for coding and the fact that they look like puzzle pieces, could the pieces from TOKYmaker’s code be made into physical toys and introduced to children at a young age? In places where smartphones are ubiquitous, many parents are hesitant to give them to their very young children. But perhaps creating a physical version of the code components could eliminate the need for a screen altogether and allow kids to integrate something coding-based into their play.
After the talk, Jessica and I talked to Andy Garcia about our project. We were particularly interested in talking to Andy because his work involves urban farming, and thus he knows a great deal about plants. Even though our project is based on a fake plant, we wanted to talk to Andy to get some ideas about ways to attract a user to interact with our project. He told us that one of the signs most visible to plant owners of their plant lacking nutrients is if the plant is wilted and drooping. This led us to reconsider how important it would be to have a servo motor that could move the plant so that it goes from drooping to standing upright. Andy emphasized to us that with whatever we made, we should start simple, then scale eventually and add more to make it complex.
Howdy y’all! I’m back at it with another blog and boi is this one special!
Last Friday was simply a delight as we met some incredible people. Eduardo, creator of Toky was absolutely mind-boggling with his product. Toky is doing all we are doing but in such a wonderfully easy way, and it was highly inspirational to know that thinkers can make things easier. Andy was also very inspirational considering his idea stemmed from what seems like thin air. He reminded me to always be thinking, because I may never know when the next innovative and creative product may come to mind. Adele and Andrea were very cool because they have been very passionate about recycling for quite a while and that passion brought them together. I didn’t quite get a chance to get feedback from them, but their talk simply was motivational enough for me to continue with my current midterm project.
Recitation with Xin Che Jian was super cool! It was really fun to see people, who brought what we do in class to a different level and create things that are working well and are actually useful and helpful for larger communities.
While all presentations were interesting to listen to, the one that I got excited by the most was DomosFarm presentation. I’ve heard about hydroponic systems before and thought that the idea of urban farming is worth exploring, but somehow never ended up doing it. After hearing Andy’s story, I got very excited about hydroponics and started looking for equipment to buy so that I could install it at home and start growing my own herbs. It’s particularly difficult in Shanghai to get some of the European herbs that I use as ingredients, not all of them are available, and if they are, they’re mostly in the laowai grocery stores. When I was a kid I loved going to my grandma’s garden to pick fresh berries, get cucumbers and radishes, and I feel that having the ability to grow something on my own will not only be fun and satisfying, but also bringing childhood memories. Thanks to Andy’s talk and his excitement about hydroponics, I finally got motivated to get my own system!
Another aspect I found interesting, and also useful for the midterm, was that Eduardo was not only presenting Toky to us, but also listening to our feedback! I asked him a question if he was planning to make a version of Toky with a bigger screen, and his response was “I’ll note it down, that’s what Andy keeps telling me, too”. That made me realize that it will be important to not only observe how people interact with my projects, and what they have troubles with, but also to listen to their questions carefully, because there might be a lot of good ideas in them.
TOKY was very convenient compared to Arduino. Being able to make the circuit without having to check which pin goes where and which cable connects what is so easy. Although the coding was far easier than Arduino or Processing, it needed the same comprehension of coding basics. So I think it is good to learn the programming languages and then using TOKY or using TOKY as a stepping stone to learn the languages. IOT, on the other hand, was an amazing function that expands the range of TOKY to possibly anything.
I was actually very interested in how he came up with the design, which he did not go over in much detail. I would like to know how the specific design was created and what amendment it went through because the system of watering them at once and providing light is a very convenient way without building something too complicated. He did go over the expansion and the possibility of the machine which showed how an idea can be developed into a project, and further to a company.
I loved their project. Seeing the process they established the system now operated got me more connected to the goal and the project itself. The fact that they are spreading it to others, therefore I can be part of the project fascinated myself.
Unfortunately I did not have time to talk to them about my project, especially when I was not sure what my midterm project would be. But seeing how they developed their ideas were a great inspiration to me.
I found all the presenters and their stories very interesting and inspirational. It’s super cool to see the motivations behind their own personal projects. The idea of the Tokimaker, as presented by Eduardo, is such an innovative way to step into the world of interactive design. With absolutely no electrical engineering or coding knowledge, anyone can begin creating cool interactive projects. I feel that it would make for an awesome educational tool for high schools to begin teaching robotics and computer programming. Andy’s urban farming initiative is also absolutely incredible. I thought that his mojito story was super relatable and it’s such a useful tool to have, especially if you live in a small, compact space. I love how he utilized Eduardo’s Tokimaker in the creation process of his project since he had no previous knowledge in programming or circuit building. Andrea and Adele from Precious Plastics Shanghai are a very prominent example of what kind of place Xinchejian is. They’ve built a startup company from Xinchejian and it truly is a community where people can share their ideas and build on their dreams. I’ll definitely be making a visit to Xinchejian on Wednesday to learn more about hackerspaces, meet more people with innovative ideas, and perhaps pursue my own projects.
I thought that the talk given on Friday was really interesting because we got to learn about a few smaller companies and how they started. I really thought the first and last presentations were cool because the companies were different and really innovative. I thought they one recycling plastic was really interesting, especially because they took us through their failures and how they solved them. Their presentation was so different and made me realize that small startups are not all the same.
On Friday we had three presentors come from Xinchejian. Xinxhejian is basically an open, non-profit run space in shanghai where programmers can come, use the space, resources, and bounce ideas off one another. There were three different groups from this community that presented to us: Andy García, who presented on his urban farming initiative from Domosfarm; Andrea and Adele who introduced us to plastic recycling from Precious Plastic Shanghai; and Eduardo Alarcon, a founder of STEAM Edtech from TOKY.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from these presentors, but I opened myelf up to what they had to say and found myself fascinated by their startups, and rethinking everything that I considered to be interactive media and programming. The biggest takeaway for me from these presentations was that it gave purpose to my interactive media arts classes. While I’ve always seen value in learning to code and program, I never really imagined many real world applications other than the obvious ones (web design, computer programing, etc. etc.). After the presentation, however, I realized that there are really no boundries for the parameters of interactive media.
The startup I was most fascinated by was Domosfarm. I have always been interested in environmental sustainability, and obviously food production is one of the greatest threats to the environment. Any Garcia’s urban farming initiative really opened up a lot of possibilites to more sustainable means of farming. Urban farming, especially, is something crucial to todays environment because planet earth cannot afford to have any more undeveloped land turned into farming space. With the global population ever-increasing, and the parameters of cities getting larger and larger each day, the need for urban farming is greater than ever, yet it seems that urban farming is still held at the backburner. I thought that Garcia’s urban farming program was both creative and extremely useful, which is just the sort of thing I hope to one day spend my efforts towards. I would love to get involved with an urban farming/ interactive media initiative one day.
I find that the speeches delivered by the three guest speakers were very inspiring. Their projects showed to us how engineering and interactive devices can be used to do good to society.
Eduardo’s TOKY is a very creative way to simplify Arduino. He integrate the Arduino board into a visual board and difference modules, and also make the coding part easier. Although TOKY may have some limitations because of its limited number of inputs and outputs, it is still a very good product. It can be used in education to teach children coding and cultivate their creativity.
Andy’s urban farming and Andre and Adele’s Precious Plastic are both created for protecting the environment. They us interactive devices or art to make environmental protection more interesting and meaningful.
All of their projects have some social benefits and clear problem to solve a targeted problem. So, for my project, although it can not be such significant, I should think of a target and aim my project idea to it.