Show ‘n’ tell plus reflections

Show ‘n’ tell – Our Concept

Today we presented our concept , which was based on personal space.

Negative scenario was someone creepy getting closer and closer to you, so your device starts playing alarm sound. The positive scenario was someone you are fond of approaches you, so your device plays a cute sweet tune.

The reception was positive – the teachers said that another group worked with similar concept, which can be considered good.

As Tony brought up, there is no “traditional” , skin-to-skin touch involved, but from a philosophical point of view, your personal space can be considered an extension of your body. Dimitros calls it “body aura”.

We were asked how we came up with this concept and we explained that Swedes value a lot personal space, so it is something central in the culture, and as a Brazilian everybody would expect me to be social, extroverted, which is not true in my case.

With other words we tackle the subjectivity of space, from a Kantian perspective.

This concept was not our initial one, though. As I have mentioned previously, a time reaction game was our first concept, however it wouldn’t lead to a deeper philosophical discussion, I suppose. Plus we were not allowed to use shock. Even though our concept was appreciated, I was not satisfied …I found our prototype too simple, unpolished, but I had to compromise, since it was a group work, not an individual one.

Show ‘n’ tell – Our presentation

Well, the presentation could have been better – I did not know when I should start saying something – my partner sounded insecure and nervous, so I took over, maybe I took too much space. I know I have this flaw – I get easily carried away, even when I am not satisfied with the result… and talk too much, leaving too little showtime for others.

Plus, the sensor has a life of its own, a personality – very sensitive and the prototype started beeping when it was not supposed to. But we were well aware of that before the presentation, so I was ready psychologically for this little issue.

Show ‘n’ tell – Other groups

While we did not really focus on skin-to-skin interactions, many of the other groups did – either handshakes, or touching. I found most of the prototypes very simplistic and unfinished as well, but one group stood out, with a very cool concept and execution was not bad either! I am talking about the guys with the hats – I don’t know their names, but their concept showed the difference of personality traits – one who is very easy-going, with a funny mushroom hat – all the time he gives a handshake he gets a gentle scalp massage (positive experience), and the other who is anti-social and doesn’t like handshakes, he is wearing too formal, stiff clothes, and top hat, and every time someone shakes his hand, he gets a mild shock (negative experience). With other words, they explore how people can experience /perceive same interaction in completely opposite ways – one perceives it as positive and the other as utterly negative.


This module had an interesting premise – come up with a design that is wearable and enhances skin-to-skin interactions, leading to positive and negative experiences.

However, the literature left a lot to be desired and led to misunderstandings concerning the module project – For starters, one of the texts was about designing for provoking people, leading to negative emotions that could be transformed into something positive. According to the article, negative emotions such as disgust, fear and sadness can lead to an enriched and enjoyable product experience, and that is what is called “rich experience”.  Nevertheless, despite all the focus put onto rich experience,  that was not exactly what we were going to work with. So it left many people confused and led to misunderstanding.

Another text was about designing for wearability, which I found very androcentric – which body parts would be optimal to focus on when we develop wearables? Where does it feel more natural, comfortable? A wearable is a wearable if it is incorporated in someone’s life, like an extension of one’s body.  Chest was one of them in the text – under my breasts? No way! That is very uncomfortable, and my partner and other girls agreed with me – even Dimitrios!

The third text is not even worth mentioning, because it had very complicated diagrams, and we did not really discuss anything about it in our module, namely the text about tangibility, going beyond pixels – from GUI to TUI. Of course we know what is tangible and what is not, but this text overcomplicated things.

Not only the texts bothered me – the fact that we had to pick our partners, was an additional stress factor, since most of my classmates are new to me – I come from IDK 2014, and was on parental leave. So I came back to completely new people. I was okay with working on my own, because I love Arduino so it would have been cool to have “my own baby wearable” .

There was only one person left without partner, and there was no personal chemistry between us. She seemed so negative, and dismissed most of my ideas without even blinking. Besides she did not show much enthusiasm and interest either. But maybe she is also like me – more productive alone. I am also an introverted person and my brain loves solitude. However I also like to exchange ideas, and as Schön brings this up, designing is a social process in which communication plays a pivotal role, you are supposed to engage in an interaction with your partner, otherwise your design will suffer the consequences of malfunctioning communicative activity.

And finally, something else that frustrated me was the constraints – we are not allowed to use shock, some other sensors are expensive, and the cheaper ones too sensitive. And time is also an issue – we had a very short period of time and two people on never-ending divergence phase.

But one good thing I will bring with me to future assignments : That’s the way it is, so you gotta accept it…”Gilla läget!” Having a career implies interacting with people that otherwise we would never want to and still you gotta make it work, make the best of an uncomfortable situation.










Final adjustments

Today it was time to assemble the parts. and build the prototype. During the testing phase we noticed that the sensor is very sensitive, it does not take much to trigger it. The other issue we were aware of…that the sensor only reads one direction, namely when a person is approaching the sensor frontally.

And finally, the sound part…

I love Arduino, it was a shame that I had to keep it simple, due to time and resource constraints. Plus, I was the only one in the duo with Arduino experience, so I refrained from overcomplicating .

It was very fun to do the sound part with the piezo buzzer – I had to use some of my limited piano skills. But still I managed to code for the tune “Heart and Soul”. The reason I chose this tune for the positive experience is that I have very sweet and tender associations with it – me trying to keep up with my husband when playing this tune on the piano – very challenging but fun! Another association is with the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks at FAO Schwarz – I love the movie and the store, and that big piano on the floor is iconic!

I searched on Internet for inspiration and guidance on the best way to code it – I made my own version, it was not merely copy/paste.

The result was….well…okay…the piezo buzzer I have was a joke…very weak and it didn’t even work with resistor, so I had to remove the resistor from the circuit.

And the sound is not that smooth either…it reminds me of those ring tones from the 1990s. But still I was proud of being able to “translate” this tone into Arduino language.

Well, now it is too late for further polishing, and we did not have much time to tackle these issues – this module was very short and the divergence phase went on “forever”, it felt like that at least.

Here is a code snippet of the sweet tune used on the positive experience.


Coding in Arduino

And here is what the “final prototype” looks like


Our prototype


Working on the concept

Ok the beginning of this day was terrible – my partner did not want to work with the game anymore, and we were informed that we could not work with shock, because it is considered dangerous… Ok then! Back to scratch… and the divergence process continues – we try to come up with a new concept – we got valuable help from the teacher and he gives us some suggestions on how to make ideas come and flow. Awesome, we can go back on track then. She comes up with a concept called hug giver – with a heat pad in your shirt representing a hug. But what about the negative experience?

Then she just vanishes! Everybody working in pairs, and I was left on my own, without knowing what was going on… So I started talking to the teacher that I wished I was working on my own instead…but he said some wise words and tried to help me with the concept. Then she came back, and we discussed the concept further and I told her what the teacher suggested us to do.

So now, when we have a clearer idea on what we were going to work with, we were ready for some convergence to take place – what is the best way to execute our concept, what are our best possibilities? When I explained what we needed to make the concept work – money and time, in form of a modified Peltier device. Besides, the idea with hug for me sounded somewhat silly and pointless. So we have decided to make a similar and more fun version of it with sound as output, using a piezo buzzer: Creepy dude approaching you gets alarm sound, someone you like approaching you gets romantic, sweet tune.   And the input would be the distance measured by the ultrasonic range detector. So we decided to work with this concept, and started coding and hooking up our Arduino in the same day.  Was I happy with this choice? Not even close! I found it over-simplistic and “lazy”, two of the words I hate the most.


Sketching the concept





Today’s lecture  focused on wearability and on its social aspect. Several examples on how to achieve a social interactive experience through wearables were presented in order to inspire us.

Today we were also presented to the assignment guidelines more in depth.

I thought I was going to work on my own, and I had already some clue on what I was going to do, until someone came to me and asked if she could work with me… but of course…Now we start from zero again. So the divergence process starts – we together try to define and delimit the problem, what we should focus on. We started brainstorming a little having two texts as starting point – one about rich experiences, i.e. how to turn a negative experience into positive; and the other about wearability – where on the body wearables should be worn. We discussed that from our own perspective – what kind of positive and negative experiences we feel most drawn to, and where on our body it would be comfortable to wear whatever we come up with. We both disagree with the text on wearability and think it has a very masculine perspective – it uses the manly body as reference for which body parts are optimal for wearables and which are not.

I came up with some ideas that were quickly dismissed by my partner. She was not even that interested in listening to me and my ideas , and she would take my jokes and sarcasm seriously…We have also sort of misunderstood a little bit the assignment – we thought that we were going to create something that leads to a rich experience, but instead it was to create something that leads to negative experience and to positive experience – it could be the same design but used in different contexts or it could be two distinct designs.

So some of our ideas turned out to be irrelevant or not really appropriate. So we had to start thinking again and brainstorming. She did not give me much…was she confused? I do not know, but it felt like I would have done it better on my own than with someone who does not really show interest.

In the end of this divergence session we were thinking about creating a reaction game that entails both reward and punishment. The idea was to make a 2-play reaction game – the slowest to press a button would get a shock or something similar, and the winner, some warmth in the hand. The prototype would be attached to an armband. It would be the upgrade of a project I have made earlier.

She was however hesitating, not really fond of the idea – but the thing is she did not have any other better idea either… so we decided to call it a day and we would have the whole weekend to think about the concept or to come up with something new.



Introducing the topic

The day started with a lecture, in which Dimitrios introduced himself to us and the module. We would be working this time with focus on experiences – positive and negative. When it comes to the material part, we were allowed to use basically anything that can be hooked up on Arduino.

In order to help our designing process he introduced to us some important concepts, namely divergence, transformation and convergence. In the beginning of a creative process you have divergence, which means that you will have to define the design problem – what needs to be done or improved? Anything we can develop further? Once you know what the problem is, the transformation process takes place, which is also called ideation – process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas – it can be in form of brainstorming, bodystorming, Thinking hats etc. And finally we have convergence, which takes place when we evaluate, refine and choose the best possibilities we have come up with.

Besides the lecture, we had text seminar around three texts: one dealing with designing for wearability, another about rich interactive experiences and finally a third that tackled tangibility. With that in mind we would have a good starting point to work on module 02 – skin-to-skin interaction and wearables.

The seminar and the day’s lecture were fruitful and helped me to come up with some ideas of my own. Now I was left with an almost impossible mission – find a partner – this time the teachers opted for self-assigned pairs, and I knew that most of my classmates had already chosen someone. But I was quite okay with the idea of working on my own – I had plenty of ideas, and quite nice set of skills.