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.




Ableton meets Arduino

Hi there!

Today we started the day with theory, about interaction qualities such as tightness, openness and ambiguity, based on Henrik Larsens dissertation. We also had an exercise in groups of four and the assignment was to compare two designs in terms of the aforementioned qualities.

After that we started working with Ableton and Arduino under Lars instructions. We got to test a project set uploaded on Itslearning. We used a potentiometer as analogue sensor – it is a knob from one to three, and you can assign this knob a parameter connected to a sound file – frequency, track volume, track spanning etc.  My partner and I focused on track volume but we even tested other parameters.

Check it out

We were also advised to switch from flex sensor to photosensors , that is, a type of resistor that reacts to light. So the idea is if you approach the brush to your hair it will get dark and you will get an output. If you stop brushing your hair, it will get lighter and you receive another output.

Tomorrow we will try to hook up photosensors and see if we can create something cool with Ableton.

We want to achieve a high tightness – an action will lead to immediate feedback. It would be nice as well to create ambiguity in terms of information – the design will change its behaviour after a period of time, for instance.



Show ‘n’ tell and Reflection

Our show ‘n’ tell

Today we had presentation of our concept, and it went fine. I guess we were clear and covered all the main points regarding nuance, pixels, touch, and skilled learning.

And our prototype did not ‘misbehave’, which is always a plus, and we did not have to fake it.

We got positive feedback, and some of the “objections” were addressed spot on – someone asked why we did not use sound as feedback, and I replied: well because this module is about pixels, not sound…

Our concept

We also got constructive criticism from our teacher, mainly concerning the concept’s depth concerning 1) nuance and 2)feedforward.

When it comes to number one, exploring nuance, i.e. enriching one’s experience through skilled learning, we should have given the user possibility to develop one’s skills even further – when the user is familiar with all the swipe combinations, there is nothing left to be improved. A suggestion for instance is to make more complicated combination of fingers. Our plan was to add different types of touch, but it did not work that well, so we were aware that it was something too simple to learn and then what?

Other groups

Sorry if I sound tough, but the other presentations and designs were not very memorable, and some of them badly executed, using the principle “fake it ’til you make it”. EXCEPT for one…it was very well presented and executed. I am talking about Lara and Jonas’ design, with the squares with several behaviours and color changing. The presentation was clear and well-structured, and the design started as abstract and conceptual , gradually developing to something more concrete – it enables the user to manipulate pixels. And their own design development process made skilled learning possible. So in other words, not only the user gains skills in manipulating objects’ pixels. The designers gain gradually skills and understanding in how to create something that can be manipulated by someone else.

So their design felt somewhat “meta”…Kudos!


Overall, I am satisfied with our work, we explored well the use of pixels and feedback – each action delivers a different output, we used both colour, animations and images. When it comes to touch, it was a little bit harder.

There were some combinations of touch and swipes that we wanted to try out. But we could not get it to work in code. One of them was to swipe in a circle to get a random playlist.. we still think it would be a great way of use the random function.

Our knowledge, as it was mentioned previously, was in this case limited, and we coped by doing something simpler.

There were also things that we could not use and did not test,  because we needed to work with touch, but shaking was something that we think that could be fun to test when it comes to music and playlist.

Furthermore, we have also applied the concept of skilled learning, by simplifying how we choose a playlist. Imagine a older person who has a hard time in using Spotify.  we have simplified the process into swipes.  And when people get used to the combinations it will be a faster way of changing playlist and songs without looking at the phone. Example: You have your phone on the arm when you running and you just swipe to change. It is similar to Dreyfus’ example about playing chess – in the beginning you have to learn how it works, and gradually it comes automatically, naturally for you.  However, I admit we could have gone further by making it more complex and giving opportunity to practice and develop other motor skills. I supposed it works as that text about ways to enrich experience by evoking negative feelings. Our design was probably not challenging enough, so the user loses it interest – frustration and challenging tasks are great fuels for the user in trying harder to solve a problem, it gets the user’s interest.








Coaching with Sofie

Today we worked until 14:00 and also got feedback from Sofie. What we noticed is that most of the groups were using similar concept…I was so naive in thinking we had something “unique”…

So we presented our idea to Sofie, and she seemed to like it with one reservation – we should use sound instead of music. She said that using the latter would be sort of cheating “not really cheating, but preferably ambience sounds”.

As there was nothing scheduled for tomorrow, we both decided to work from home with coding.