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.