Make it work

Today there was not that much left to do – it was basically tinkering, and making the design look better, and work more effectively. Our initial plan was to use the breadboard inside the brush, but Lars pointed out its weaknesses – we should loose the breadboard, because the way it was connected could easily lead to short circuit. Besides it takes too much space. So we did as he suggested – we soldered all the parts – the photocell sensor to the resistor, and to jumper wires, and insulated the exposed wires with heat-shrink tubing. We made two sets of photocell sensors – and these sets were also connected to each other – the positive part from one, with the negative part from the other. Why that? Why positive from one with negative from the other? Because we wanted to invert the behaviour of one of the sensors, so the best thing would do it on the circuit.


After soldering, the hairbrush looked much better, and we did not have any more problems with short circuit, malfunctioning sensors. We also glued a frame made of carton package around the brush in order to make it look nicer and more stable.


Finished brush

After that we started sketching with different sounds, filters and variables, trying to figure out what would work better. We did not have many options to choose from when it comes to audio files. So we chose the less scary one, and edited /cropped it in order to sound better. One of the sensors – the one in the middle – was linked to res, which implies its sole function was to trigger the sound. The other sensor, to the side, was connected to frequency and responsible for the different outputs we would get depending on how we brush our hair.

Here is the finished product:

When we were done with all the sketching, we started to discuss interaction attributes  – ambiguity, tightness and openness. We felt that our hairbrush was ambiguous enough in terms of information because the sounds that came from the brush was unpredictable and when brushing or moving the brush in different directions you would get different outputs. Of course we could have explored the other two types of ambiguity – context and relationship – but we wanted to leave some room for clearness in the interaction with the hairbrush, in the meaning that we knew there would be some kind of sound when it was moved, but we did not know WHAT sound it would come over time, since it depends on how you brush your hair and even on your hair colour, since the sensors showed to be very sensitive to clothing colour and hair.

When it comes to tightness, it was the first attribute we succeeded with – the hairbrush reacted directly when it was approaching our hair – The closer the brush would get to the hair, the more intense the sound would get – so we can say that tightness is not reduced to immediateness aspect, it is also connected to the closeness aspect – as if the hairbrush was the extension of your hand. When it comes to the openness aspect, there is a lot of room for discussion – in theory our hairbrush is open – it can be used anyhow, anytime, anywhere, by everybody. But if we put the brush in a context, we begin to see its limitations in terms of openness  – is it okay to brush your hair during a business meeting? If you follow the prevailing social norms, you would not even consider this possibility. Can you use this hairbrush as a weapon? There are no physical constraints to that, but what about moral, behavioural ones? And hairbrushes were not intended to be used as a weapon, from a design point of view.

When it comes to bodily experience, the way the hairbrush sounded could send you a signal telling you when to brush your hair more slowly, carefully, and that would affect your behaviour. If you do as you are “supposed to” , then you will get a calmer sound as a feedback, which might also lead to a relaxed state of mind.




Introduction to the topic

Today we started by having a dynamic lecture with exercises about bodily movements and interaction. We as a group of three were asked to analyse an interaction ( putting clothes to dry on the wire) and its movement characteristics such as rhythm, temporal aspects, whether it involves the whole body or only some parts of it and sense of one’s body (how it feels).

After that, we received the brief to next project, which is about everyday movements coupled with simple modulated sounds.

We should focus on the interaction and behaviour of the design, rather on the sounds.

Furthermore, we are supposed to use two sensors plus two output sound files in our design.

After the brief explanation we made an exercise in pairs (our assigned ones). The task was to pick two sets of interactions involving bodily movements and stick to one set and write down its characteristics.

We brainstormed first and came up with many examples :

  • shake a feeding bottle
  • take notes
  • get up from bed/chair
  • lift a child
  • get dressed
  • teach a child to walk
  • brush hair
  • brush teeth
  • walk
  • turn on the lights
  • write on the computer
  • check the phone

The two sets we found more interesting were brushing hair and taking notes (yeah it feels a little bit meta). The final choice we made was hair brushing, because taking notes implies very limited movements. Besides, brushing your hair allows openness in the meaning that you can brush your hair anywhere, anytime, anyhow (with some limitation). The movement characteristics of brushing hair are the following:

  1. repetitive
  2. limited movement
  3. rhythmic
  4. (usually)slow & light movements
  5. one-directional

For explanation check our video!

After that we presented our concept to Lars and Henrik, and discussed about what sensors to use. We are leaning towards flex sensors that detect different flex movements, such as from your wrist.

We are going for a more flexible, bendable brush , so we can put the sensors on it.



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.