Observation: External Battery Indicator

Until a few years ago, the MackBook pro models came with a battery life indicator, a feature that Apple explicitly used as a selling point. It was a feature I used regularly but my interaction with it was purely intuitive, or it possibly became so after many years using the MacBook. It became a ritual (not as much a habit) for me to check the battery before opening the laptop. Sometimes I would check the battery, sometimes not.

Recently, as I reached out to check my battery on the new MacBook Pro, I was rather shocked to find that the feature did not exist anymore. My first reaction was – Apple made the decision only to reduce the size of their product.

Today, I realized I never shut down my computer. I hardly ever have it closed either. When I am not working, I am reading some articles or watching TV shows, all on the laptop. I observed that most people I know, do the same. Has the external battery indicator feature become redundant because we never stop using our laptops? Would the behavior change if the indicator is reintroduced and put on the top and not on the side?

Week 4: Objects + Functions

This week’s task was to better organize one’s code using functions within objects – which I was able to successfully grasp and execute. However, it became slightly difficult for me to execute my idea because I couldn’t understand how to incorporate an array into this new object organization.

View the Sketch

The idea was to have the egg fall, crack and have many ants crawl across the canvas. I found that to do this, I would either need to create an array of ants or a particle system for the same, neither of which I was familiar with. On experimenting a bit with the ‘ParticleSystem’ example on the p5 website, I found I was still unable to understand the code, even though the set example made it easier for me to execute my idea. I decided to resort to an array, as I could understand the concept of it (though still not the code). After a couple of hours of reading, re-reading and trying out examples, I was still unable to understand the logic.

Another thing I could not figure out was how to layer the objects in a manner that the ants appear as if they are behind the cracked egg. For some reason the layering does not apply to objects – they don’t get called in order of their appearance in the code.

Here is my code for the sketch:

Lab: Tone

Analog Input : Potentiometer
Digital Output: Tone

IMG_20150925_210939

IMG_20150925_210923

While doing the “tone” lab this week, I encountered certain problems, not with the basic circuit and code displayed above, but when I  tried the more complex task in the lab to make music using an array of pitches. The main thing I could not work out from reading the lab is how to get the ‘pitches.h’ file to work. I am mostly confused about the difference between a library and an external file such as ‘pitches.h’.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 4.48.28 AM

A pedometer

For this week, I designed a circuit where the:
Analog input is a Pressure sensor and the
Digital output is the led lighting up each time you press it + it counts the number of time it is pressed.

An application for this circuit could be a pedometer.

IMG_20150922_235358

NOTE: After having tested this particular circuit, I realized that the pressure sensor is not the most reliable one for a pedometer as its values keep changing and it sometimes fails to detect the tap at the right time. A better alternative to this would be to make a switch with conductive fabric.

Observation: Crosswalk Button

The Task:
The intended task associated with this device is “to cross the road”. The Crosswalk Button serves one purpose: it allows for the pedestrians to appeal for the motor traffic to stop so that they can cross the road. The user presses the button and waits for the ‘walk’ sign. In some ways the expectation a user has from the device is very similar to that of an elevator button.

User Behavior:
In theory, this is very logical. Press the button – and wait for the light to switch to ‘walk’. However, a common behavior I noticed, is that people pressed the button several times. In some cases it seemed like a sign of restlessness and in others, the user just wanted to make sure he/she pressed the button and that it is working.

Advantages:
The Buttons are very appropriately placed as they are accessible to users of all heights and are very clearly visible. Their position and some of the signage too is indicative

Drawbacks:
One of the major drawbacks that the crosswalk buttons have, is that they lack any instant feedback to inform the user that the button is activated – visual, auditory or tactile. In India, most traffic lights in big cities have a countdown visible to the drivers and pedestrians. This gives the user an assurance that the device is constantly responding to his/her appeal.

Some of the posts had a small signage that gave usage directions like.. “Press the button, Wait for the walk signal, then cross the road”. These signages also fail to communicate the amount of time one would have to wait till the Walk signal appears. Since the interaction occurs while the user is in the process of commuting, time is one of the key factors to consider.

Crosswalk-button_jerseyCity
Crosswalk-button in Jersey City

Going by Crawford’s definition, this activity is in no way interactive. The user assigns a task and the automated task is fulfilled by the device. In this case, the device reacts to the user’s input.

Week 3: Games

This week I teamed up with Doo Yon Kim (Don) to create a game that we call – “Fish or Bee”. We both decided to create two individual games that we then merged into one sketch. This was the most challenging part. Don did an excellent job of combining the two using the if function – where when one game plays the other game’s values or coordinates would become 0 (i.e. not appear on the screen).

I did another iteration of combining the two games using “Switch” and “Case”. I made a variable – gameMode that i wanted to switch. I made 3 cases for it:
0 –  Selection Page ( function displayReadyMode )
1 –  Fish Game ( function displayFishGame )
2 –  Bee Game ( function displayBeeGame )

Each case corresponds to a custom function that is called based on a mousePressed function.

Following is the code for my individual game – Fish Game:

Thanks to J.H Moon for all the help with combining the two games and to Don for helping me out with the little glitches.

A Box that Yawns

In collaboration with Joy (Eun-Jee Kim).

This has so far been the most exciting assignment that I have worked on at ITP. The objective was to:
a. learn to record sounds using the zoom recorder and
b. edit the sounds in Logic X Pro

With this in mind, we explored several ideas for our intended sound piece.  Both Joy and I were sold on the idea of recording and designing a collection of yawns. The core concept was to exhibit the chain reaction that a yawn can cause. We wanted the piece to be a “relay of yawns” that would subsequently make the audience yawn.

Sketch-01

Prototype 1:
A soundscape that begins with random spurts of different people yawning leading on to become a sleepy rendition of Mozart’s O Fortuna. We recorded yawn-y male and female versions of Oh Fortuna that we tried to layer over each other for it to sound like the track is escalating. Here is a clip of one of the yawns:

After a couple of iterations, we felt the song didn’t feel like a yawn anymore and we were unableo create the escalating effect that ‘o fortuna’ has. We soon moved on to our next idea.

Prototype 2:
A box that would yawn – Each time you open the lid, you hear a different yawn.  For this iteration, we:

1. Made a box (mostly from collected junk)
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2. Created a photocell circuit and Connected it to an Arduino Uno
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3. Used the ‘AnalogOutSerial’ arduino example created by Tom Igoe and tweaked it to suit our project. For our version, we did not require an output. We used the input from the photocell to trigger the yawns to start playing.

4. The input was received by Max MSP, where we defined that each time the photocell’s value goes below 50 (i.e when light hits the photocell), a yawn would play.
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A big thanks to Gabe for helping us realize this project.

Switches

For week 2, one was expected to come up with creative applications of a switch. I decided to make a hand puppet / oven mitten – using a simple parallel circuit with 2 leds and a 3V supply.

As I began to build my circuit, I initially just made one without any resistors. This caused a short circuit, burning my led.

Initial circuit attempt

 

I rebuilt my circuit using resistor
I rebuilt my circuit using resistor
Stitched the circuit on the inside of an oven mitt.
Stitched the circuit on the inside of an oven mitt
Stitched the circuit on the inside of an oven mitt.
Stitched the circuit on the inside of an oven mitt.
This is what It finally looks like
The eyes light up when the mouth of the puppet is closed.
The eyes light up when the mouth of the puppet is closed.
Inside the puppet
Inside the puppet

The switch interface

 

Inspiration?

The novel happens as a consequence of, a reaction to, or a response to something else. History ascribes the discovery of the human blood circulation (1616) to William Harvey, while some say that it was DaVinci who in fact inspired Harvey’s discovery. Does the idea, then belong to the initiator or to the one who ultimately concludes it? Evolution of ideas is not one that happens in isolation. It has however, always been as conflicted as it is today.

Susan Meiselas’ point of protest, as she puts it, is the decontextualization of the original image – the image of the Molotov Man, one that became a symbol for the people of Nicaragua – and not necessarily the adaptation of her work by Joy. Considering the context, the artist here set out to tell a certain story and represent the state of events of some from a certain perspective. While Meiselas, sees her work as the story of another, Joy values the picture for its visual quality alone. The intent of the work in question defines a lot of how we look at it.

But is decontextualization really the problem? To those in Nicaragua that see the ‘Molotov Man’ as an important representation of their history, will always associate with the image – be it Susan Meiselas’ picture or Joy Garnett’s painting. To them, it is what the image stands for that is important. At what point does cultural specificity become relevant to the measurement of appropriation?

Was Susan Meiselas then wrong in asking for compensation? Would we be equally conflicted if a big corporation like Coca Cola decided to take Meiselas’ picture, give it their own spin and use it for their ads? Would the conflict remain if Coca Cola decided to use this ‘new’ picture for any of their CSR initiatives?