Network Everything: reaDIYmate

Networked projects can be fun and often indicative of the greater IoT utility. While many proponents of networking everything might praise these technologies’ utility above all else, many artists and hackers seek to use these technologies instead for their aesthetic value. For instance, the reaDIYmaker (as shown above) is a project whereby users can assemble a networked Arduino and connect it to whatever internet application they so desire. While this is pretty run of the mill as far as IoT goes, this project’s novelty lies in the interactive aspect. Each reaDIYmate is an Arduino “robot” that in some way responds to your internet activity. For example, say you program your reaDIYmate to respond to all incoming tweets. The reaDIYmate robot will then light up and make noise every single time somebody tweets you, providing a physical and interesting interface with your personal network. I like this project because I have a vested interest in Arduino automatons, and believe that this project serves as a simple, ridiculous, but very relevant instance of networking devices and using a microcontroller to emulate a reaction to these connections.

Project That I Find Inspiring

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I find this project by Luis Hernan to be a cool intersection between art and technology. Growing up, I liked to do photoshoots where I would take pictures of my friends writing with torches with long exposure setting. This then created a drawing with neon-like strokes. This project takes it to another level.

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This project visualises wifi signal through the use of a device that detects wifi signals (Kirlian)。He then captures the light of the device with his camera, long exposure setting.

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The cool thing about this project is that not only does this project manage to visualise what usually seems invisible and tangible, but that there are layers to the information displayed. By ‘layers’, I mean, Hernan uses different colours of lights to display the different strengths of the WiFi signal.

Homework Response

The readings and videos this week introduced me to the concept that being called “inspirational” might not necessarily be taken positively. I admit that I too bought into the societal belief that people with disabilities are usually figures of inspiration on pure principle. In my mind, going through their lives, while facing an everyday adversity that the majority of people don’t have to deal with justified this thought, but after watching and reading the assigned pieces I learned to think before doing so.

In the video “I am not your inspiration” I thought it was very important for Stella Young to use her own humorous personal story of being nominated for an award in her town. People who do not have, or at least by societies perspective, a disability or are not close with someone who does, don’t really take the time to think about life from that person’s perspective. This, I realized, is what causes us to throw the term “inspirational” on these people, and turn them into the “inspirational porn” Stella Young mentioned.

Before Stella Young was well known she was still labeled as inspirational. A label even some paralympians don’t enjoy being called, as they would rather be noticed for their athletic accomplishments. I thought it was very interesting how some athletes had this opinion, while others thought that it was an honor to be called inspirational. It made me think, do these athletes ever discuss this topic between one another, and if so what conclusion do they draw? I am also wondering if the paralympic games will be integrated with the normal olympic games in the future as assistive technology gets better.

As we saw in Sara Hendren’s Ted Talk, her prosthetics allow her to change heights and go beyond what a normal human being can do. It is definitely only a matter of time before this is true with athletic ability as well. Another point in that Ted Talk I found very interesting was that kids do not seem to think poorly or associate the negative connotation with the word disability until they are somehow taught that. I was wondering if this came from their parent’s accidentally mentioning comments about disabled people, or from media outlets or other parts of society?

In the article, “All Technology is Assistive” I started to redefine what I thought assistive technology could encompass. I broadened my internal definition, and even had a miniature epiphany on what I should be considering as possible inventions I learn more about assistive technology in this class. I definitely haven’t considered all six of the design rules mentioned, and realize that these will be helpful to remember with the make-a-tho coming up!

Final Project Proposal

By: Zayna Quader

Professor: Dan 

Definition of Interaction: To me, interaction can be defined as anything that is not able to work on its own. That is, in order to function properly or to reach its maximum potential, it requires the assistance of a human.

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Final Project Proposal: For my final project, I plan to make Brick Breaker. Brick Breaker is a game where the player (i.e. the human, and therefore the interaction instigator) moves a horizontal ball back and forth in order to keep a ball from falling off the bottom of the screen. In addition, the goal of the game is to make the ball hit all of the bricks on the screen until all of the bricks are gone (allowing the player to progress to the next level). There are also special blocks that cannot be broken, or that release special powers when hit, that are added to the game as the levels progress.

What makes my version of different from the original is that, first, players of my game will have the ability to pick from a variety of physical object to be their on-screen player. These objects will be 3D printed, and will be recognized by the computer through the usage of an RFID reader. In addition, there will be a storyline involved in my version of brick breaker, and the game will have a different name from the original game. As for the controls, they will consist of a potentiometer on the Arduino.

I will also be providing a storyline to go with the printed out objects and the entire game as a whole.

Critique of an established form of interaction or specific interactive experience that relates to the project:

An established form of interaction similar to mine is the game that my game will be based off of, Brick Breaker. While Brick Breaker in itself is a very fun game it typically lacks the ability to choose your player, which I think would make the game more fun. In addition, the lack of storyline makes the game less interesting, because, while ultimately there’s no point to the game except to destroy the bricks, I think that adding a storyline would create more of an engaging experience for the player. People like to do things for a reason, so if you give them a reason to play a game, and to do something, like saving a universe or just a reason behind what they’re doing what they’re doing, individuals are more likely to play, and more likely to continue playing, just to get the answer to their questions, or even just to know what happens next. By providing a purpose for playing the game, I’m hoping to make it more interesting conceptually and make it more engaging for the mind.

Autodesk Field Trip Documentation

Shanghai Autodesk Headquarters 

Before we started working with Tinkercad I had heard about Autodesk but did not know that much. I knew that about their 3D presenting but that was about it. I was very eager going to the Shanghai Headquarters and get to know more about Autodesk. I think the biggest takeaway I got from Autodesk was that there is no idea that can’t be created. I was really inspired by this trip!

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Assistive Technology Documentation 1 Kinsa Durst

Stella Young’s “I am not your inspiration”

I do agree with her notion that we shouldn’t objectify disabled people. However, I don’t think that we should hold disabled people to same standards as those who are not. They should be merited for how much effort they are putting in rather than doing something exceptional even relative to those who aren’t disabled. For some disabled people, just doing daily “normal” tasks is a tough thing to do and it is not a bad thing to give recognition to that.

Aimee Mullen’s “My 12 pairs of Legs”

It was interesting when she spoke of prosthetic leg as something that could be a “wearable sculpture” I think using “disability” to create artistic expression is a necessary process in looking at disability in a new way.

NYTimes “Paralympics Least Favorite Word: Inspiration”

I think that the word inspiration comes up more with Paralympic competitors because their disability is external and visible. I think anyone who has had to overcome difficult obstacles can be inspirational. There are many athletes who aren’t physically disabled, but who have overcome family problems, growing up in a rough neighborhood, or other emotional or mental disabilities are inspirational to others and people tell them that. It’s just that it harder to know that that person has had those “disabilities” because they cannot be seen.

Sara Hendren’s “All Technology is Assistive: 6 Design Rules on Disability”

I think designing to solve a specific problem can push people to produce a great idea that is applicable to many more than that specific circumstance. As the author describes that all technologies are assistive technology, I agree that they are technologies that exist to enhance and aid our needs and wants, which is essentially what conventional “assistive technology” means.

Every Day Use of Technology Chart (part1)

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After reading Sara Hendren’s “All Technology is Assitive: 6 Design Rules on Disability”, I can’t help but think every technology I use is tassistive, to enhance my experience and make up for the limitations of my body. Some of the technology I used were for faster transportation, because my normal body would be able to do the same thing, but a lot slower. But Escalator was used to ease effort of going up and down the stairs, when I had the ability to walk up the stars on my own, at similar speed. I used my cellphone the most throughout the day as it was the technology used to communicate with others not near me, and feed myself updated with information both necessary or just entertaining.

Class 1 : Response to Videos and Readings

Lisa Barry (lab666)

Video 1: Stella Young’s “I am not your inspiration”

How many times have we been praised for our “achievements” or been told we are “inspirational” before? For Stella Young, this is a common occurrence. Achievement is to do something successfully with effort, skill, or courage. For many of us also, we may have been told these things without putting in much effort, including Stella. Even if she does an ordinary thing, because of a disability, it is depicted as inspirational.

Disability is defined as an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. It affects a person’s life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime. When considering this, even a bad eye sight is a disability. Over half of my life, I have used the vision correcting assistive technologies, such as glasses and contact lenses. Recently, I had to undergo a major eye surgery. During and after this time, I imagine I could be labeled as “disabled” as I needed assistance in everything. However, this was temporary, my bad eyesight is a lot longer term. Without contact lenses or glasses, I cannot perform daily activities in the same way. I would not be able to read, play sports, or use my phone (which I use too often) without getting my eyes only 20cm away from it. So what labels one as “disabled” and the other as not? Is it because one is visible and the other is not?

Stella young highlights that many people have only experienced “disabled people as objects of inspiration”. By definition, disabilities may effect life activities, however, this does not mean that the quality of life for those with disability is “bad”. For many people, this is normal to them. They have adapted their lives to suit their disabilities and it is nothing out of the ordinary. If society was to react this extreme to someone with a bad eye sight, by simply performing a task of reading with my contacts in would make me an “inspiration”.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude”, or “Your excuse is invalid” are some ways social media depicts disability. The pictures used with it are usually those with visually recognizable disabilities. Those with disabilities are not inspirations, they just like to go about their normal days, just as anyone else would. Disability is not the unusual, we should be regarding this as a norm. However, as Stella points out, when faced with a challenge limited by their disabilities, they cannot just fix their “bad attitude” or treat it as an “excuse”. In saying this, we need to change this societal view of disabled people as worse off, or have lower expectations in them. They may face difficulties but supporting one another is a way to overcome these and perform well. Then, true achievements of those with disabilities can be recognized.

Video 2: Aimee Mullen’s “My 12 pairs of Legs”

Aimee Mullins is a model, and an athlete that uses prosthetic legs. In this TED talk, she shows us some of her collection of prosthetic legs, but not the standard sets that we are used to seeing.

The section I found to be very interesting was her story of kids interacting with her prosthetic legs. Most kids are still phased by societal views, but do often listen to others directly around them. Therefore, when these kids were exposed to these prosthetic legs without anybody telling them what they can and cannot say, ideas flew wild. Society is often too sensitive to certain topics such as disability, without asking individuals themselves how they feel. Many with disability may prefer if kids did not ask questions, but those like Aimee are more than happy to raise curiosity in others and start discussions.

It is important for our society to not only stop regarding those with disabilities as not normal, or not “like us”. By doing so, we can initiate discussions as we would with each other on a regular basis, and encourage changes to happen. When this happens, and assistive technology does become a norm, people will stop immediately judging ones life on disability.

Text 1: NYTimes “Paralympics Least Favorite Word: Inspiration”

The word “Inspiration… [detracts] from athletes’ accomplishments because it highlights their disabilities. Closely related to the video of Stella Young, for many Paralympic athletes, the use of the word “Inspiration” frustrates them. Consider the training of these athletes, I can imagine they would have their own personalized trainer and training schedule as any Olympian or “able-bodied” athletes do. Many of them have adapted with their disability, and it is something they have lived with for a long time, and therefore, “don’t know anything else”. It is not something that stops them.

If an average “able-bodied” person competed and trained with Paralympic athletes, we would see this. Growing up with a big passion in sport, I have trained with and seen the results of athletes with disabilities. For these athletes, disability is “normal” for them. And after training with them, I was quite often worse off than them. If they’re professional athletes, they train, just like any other athletes do. They do not pity themselves. They are regular athletes and should not be viewed as a “disabled athlete”.

As written in this text, “a lot of us that have a disability don’t view it as a disability”. They have grown with it, just as we have in our own bodies. Growing up, many of them were not spoon fed and told to take it easy. Instead, they were told that “this is what you have”, and that is what they’ll need to adapt with.

As Stella Young highlighted in her video, it is our society and media that portrays disability as a bad thing and all those that live, more so if they achieve success with it are immediately inspirational. Many films of disabled athletes are made on the basis of making it inspirational. It would be great to see more films where these athletes are highlighted for their achievements, rather than their disabilities. Where the audience can view the athletes as someone to look up to in terms of their achievements.

Text 2: Sara Hendren’s “All Technology is Assistive: 6 Design Rules on Disability”

I personally really enjoyed this reading as it gave some beautiful examples of combining design and practicality of assistive technology. The text described 6 different rules for designing assistive technology:

  1. Invisibility is overrated

It was especially interesting to see the designs where function is not the main purpose, but design is. The example “Hearwear” showed that assistive technology does not have to be “invisible”; some may enjoy showing it off. Our guest speaker Kondo Genta mentioned that many requiring a prosthetic arm want it to look invisible, but many want a cool design to show off to people, and the choice is theirs. But it is up to the designers to give them the choice.

2. Rethink the default bodily experience

Who says that technology must be used in a certain way? By assessing the conditions of a person with a disability, often times, there may be limited options in using technology. To design an assistive technology for a disability is to look at what the individual can do. As mentioned in class, many times, if one person has a certain disability, it is more than likely that there will be more people experiencing the same disability. This means that if a person can only use their body from neck up, make use of that, and design something that can be used just with those body movements, even if the movement is not the default experience.

3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change

Sometimes, a disability does not need to be “treated” or improved biologically. Quite often, by changing the environment around them, those with disabilities can live independently. An example is a wheelchair ramp. With ramps installed in their environment, wheelchair users do not need to “fix” their disability in order to move around freely.

4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts

The example in this section, “squeeze chairs” was something I even wanted myself. It is true that quite often, assistive technology is made after assessing those with specific disabilities. However, by making something more broad, that not only works on a specific disability, but shows positive results on others, expands the uses of technology. If people wanted specificity, they can adapt these technology for broad uses and redesign it to suit their needs. By not clearly stating the uses and users of a technology, people can adapt it themselves and use it freely. The squeeze chairs can then be used as a treatment method, as a comforting technology, or used as a basis of new design, and so on.

5. Design for one

This rule is interrelated to many of the above rules. There are many positive outcomes from designing a technology for one person. As mentioned above, if one person has a specific disability, more than likely, another will. Therefore, making something specific to one person can actually help many others in the future. It can be used in the same way for another person or be altered for a slightly different purpose/disability. Here, it is important to keep these ideas open, so others can take it and use it to improve the life of another person.

6. Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems

There is no statement that a technology must be a certain way; for some, a prosthetic does not need to be discreet, a computer should not need hands, a phone screen does not need to be seen. This “variability and disagreement” should ask questions to the designer. Who are you making this for? Why? Why does it need to look/work that way? Is that what the user wants? Questions should rise up in order to make something that is comfortable to users, specific for their wants and needs.

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This text also highlights that, “all technology is assistive”, as they serve the purpose of “enabling or augmenting a sensory experience”. In this case, to design a good technology, these rules should apply, no matter who you are making this for. By doing this, it will ensure the users to not just be content or satisfied by the technology, it will become something they love, and would also lead to future development of the technology.

 

Assistive Technology by Diana Xu

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There’re not many big differences for me between the two days. I stayed at AB during the weekend and studies. It’s kinda of hard to count the time of using my laptop because I used it all the time.

Response to Stella Young’s “I am not your inspiration” and NYTimes “Paralympics Least Favorite Word: Inspiration”:

I always feel that it’s really hard to define “the disabled”, because many people don’t want to be called disable and they also hope to be treated the same as other normal people. Compared to the word disability, I feel it might be better to call it difference. Just like we respect and appreciate cultural differences, we should also appreciate differences between people. That is to say, we might need to give equal compliment to people with and without disability. We want to show our care to the disabled people, so we always say that we are inspired by their small achievements or even just daily norms. But people with disability don’t feel the same way. Compared to others’ “fake” compliment, they prefer to be treated as a normal people. That’s why Stella Young would say that she didn’t achieve anything for the community achievement award. It’s also the reason why some sportsmen in Paralympics don’t like the word inspiration. The disability tag on sportsmen weighs too much that people just ignore their real achievements in the field of sports. It’s true that people with disability can inspire people a lot. But that’s not the only feature they have. They also hope to have the real achievement and become the inspiration with the real achievement.

Response to Aimee Mullen’s “My 12 pairs of Legs”:

I really love the attitude she treats her legs. Losing legs doesn’t mean become disabled, but it also provides people with more opportunities to choose their own legs. As I mention above, sometimes people’s attitude towards disability make people with disability feels uncomfortable. And it’s not easy to change this. Therefore, the attitude of people with disability is really important. That’s the reason I love Aimee’s attitude. Using herself as an example, she is showing that there’s no need to be ashamed of and be sorry for the disability people have. Sometimes it also gives people with more opportunities to do something different.

Response to Sara Hendren’s “All Technology is Assistive: 6 Design Rules on Disability”:

After reading this I find that assistive technology design is not as easy as I used to think about. There are many factors to think about. The principle of design for one is really important. There’s hard to standardize people’s needs, especially for people with disability. Normal devices can fit many people’s demand. But as people with disability have different needs, and one device can’t meet all the needs. Therefore, design for one is really important. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to design something different for everyone. We can still use some similar technologies or devices. But what we really should pay attention to here is to notice the details and fit people’s special needs.

Reading Response1- Assistive Technology- Miki Bin

For all the readings, together they helped us to think in the shoes of the “disabled” people defined by the society, in terms of how they wish to be treated, and help us to think differently of assistive technology not only a specific invention for the disabled people, but also an invention that has the potential to be used by area/people beyond that.

It is a good practice to think about the people we are designing for in the first place. The two TED talks, “I am not your inspiration”, and “My 12 pairs of Legs”, including the reading “Paralympics Least Favorite Word: Inspiration”, offers a good insight. First we get to know that it is ignorant to try to pretend that we know better what the other people feel. Examples are listed, such as people would try to title a “disabled” person with a prestigious honor, only because he/she is able to manage daily life. Or, try not to comment or talk about their disabled parts because they think people will get hurt. Or, creating encouraging quotes using images of the “disabled” people. They are unfair because when they do the things above, they ignore the fact that their pity implies that they think the other group is inferior in their body, and that is the least wanted from the other side. As most of us wanted an ordinary life, a lot of them are treated as the abnormal when they were very little. For them, the best they want to have is be treated like every body else. In the end, “all bodies are less than ideal”. It is just that because we are not categorized by the society as the disabled, so we don’t think that way.

To transition this awareness to diminish “division of we/them”, it is very important to ask questions, how to “interrupt cultural assumptions in powerful, creative ways”. Aimee Mullen’s talk deeply touches me. She showed another way to think about her amputated body, she doesn’t think of it as a disability, or at least a nasty one she tried to hide. Instead, she opened up an entirely new conversation with the potential and possibility with her body. She can choose what kind of leg does she want every morning she wakes up, and she has the option to change her height. That is moment that she showed another side of the design: most of the times we started with a mentality to fix a problem, rather than viewing it as an opportunity to enable the body to be assisted with something extra, that allows those people to do something beyond the scale of normal human body. In that way, I would argue that iron man, views as a healthy person, is also equipped with a lot of assistive technology. But he is not viewed as disabled, because his assistive technology allowed him to do things beyond our human scope.

When it comes to the detail of the designing process, I am impressed by one case in reading, “all technology is assistive”. It really pushed me to “rethink the bodily experience”. Using the mouth rather than hand to navigate wheelchair truly thought out of the box: what if we really think from the perspective of one individual, if we do not know all the existing aids and how they are designed in out times today, how would we design for this individual, from scratch, to realize this specific function? That clash is especially beautiful, and that question is worth asking all the time.

DigitalFarm: FarmVisit – (Dan)

Date: April 15, 2017

Instructor: Professor Dan

We visited Biofarms, a certified organic farm that produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, such as lettuces, sprouts, microgreens, and perhaps most interestingly, edible flowers. As they put it on their poster, almost every part of a plant is edible, and I feel like this was very much emphasised in the tour. Sustainability is not only about growing methods, but also about being able to use resources efficiently.

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They grow non-GMOs, they don’t use hormones in their produce and all fertilisers are ‘non-chemicals’, or naturally made.

Plants aside, I found their irrigation system pretty interesting. It was a series of hoses connected to the water source and the pipes were spread across the crops. Along with the sensors, it seemed to be an efficient way to minimise water consumption and to make sure that all the vegetables stayed properly hydrated.

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I think that the main contribution of places such as Biofarm goes beyond organic farming; it is a way to educate people and to spark interest in environmental matters. Visitors are encouraged to try different plants and to ask questions, and everyone is very friendly. The farm in general seemed very accessible (except for the microgreens for which sterile conditions are needed to ensure proper growth) and people from all ages are encouraged to explore.

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