Thesis Development 5 : RecodeĀ 

This week from a coding perspective I began to try to bring parts of the code for the Arduino together. I have spent some time watching youtube videos showing how to create basic devices and trying to get back into the groove off working on my limited coding capabilities! I started with my usual technique of creating Frankenstein pieces of code that were mashed together to try to achieve a result. Nothing seems to work so I will need to revisit some fundamentals to refresh my memory.

I did decide to change one of the components I had been using, I had originally decided to use an LED light bar for the countdown timer but I have since switched that to a 4 digit display. I have found some projects that take advantage of this output device and played around with them a little. My plan is to get some experience with each of the devices I am using before circling back to creating another Frankenstein.

In anticipation of going to NYC at the end of the Summer term I have had to adjust my timeline for execution on elements of the project. This means I am probably going to be under a little more pressure than I first anticipated but I believe I will be ok. Famous last words!

This week also seen the end of the Spring term, most of my time outside of my efforts with Arduino was taken up working on my presentation for the end of term presentation based on feedback received 2 weeks previously. I got some valuable feedback from the presentation session which has altered some ideas I have on how I tell the story bout the object I am building. I will be building 3 devices but I think I need to build a 4th that isn’t a wearable but the internal components of the device laid out with a description of what is happening. This 4th device will also carry out the functions in the exact same way as the wearable but will serve as a way for people interested in experiencing the wearable to understand what they are getting themselves into by engaging. It will also be useful for creating video content to explain in presentations for those who might not be able to experience the actual piece.

We have a few days before the Summer session that I will spend working on and getting fully immersed in the code side of things. The grove kit will really help with this as it is pretty much plug and play from the electronics perspective and is pretty robust. Busy few weeks ahead!

Thesis Development 4 : Recode

This week I received the last of the components for the piece. I began to try programming the Arduino Nanos but immediately ran into problems. I had decided to use Seeed studio grove sensors and output components because they are easy to assemble and use, I don’t have to figure out how to do everything via breadboard and can quickly assemble prototypes. The Grove kits use a shield which will be mounted to the Arduino and then all interfaces are plugged into the shield. I tried the Nano with the shield designed for it but couldn’t get it to work!

I still had an Arduino Uno from previous projects and the Grove shield for it so I thought I would try it instead. Hooked up each output I am using including a servo, vibration motor, LED bar and everything worked!

The reason I originally thought the Nano would be the right direction is its small form factor. Taking into account the breadboard, wiring etc that would be needed to make it work meant it would not be as compact as I thought at first. There was also the power requirement. The Nano would require a power bank for my particular application. By the time I have put all the elements together for the Nano version, it was no longer so Nano.

I decided I will use the Uno as its not that much bigger and when using a 9 volt battery to power it, its not a big difference between that setup and the Nano setup with a power bank. All the sensors and outputs I am using with the Nano setup will work with the Grove shield on the Uno version.

I am also hoping to go to New York for the end of the Summer session to present the piece so carrying power banks etc around on flights etc is minimized and 9 volt batteries are readily available everywhere. One of the things I would like this project to do is be easily deployable. So this direction helps that.

I started to figure out the layout and positions of the electronics. Next step will be to create some basic shells from foamcore that will house the parts to help define space envelopes in CAD.

Thesis Development 3 : Recode

This week I have been primarily preparing for the Show a Thing feedback sessions. This meant I needed to amend my presentation and iterate on my messaging about the project to clarify more what it is about. I also spent some time creating a better more concise description of the interaction with the object for me to be able to better describe how it works. This involved the creation of the step by step experience manual working backwards from the final outcome.

  1. The person reads the poem they received and can reflect on the experience they had.
  2. The person receives a small token by way of a poem after returning the device to the exhibit stand/area
  3. The person has managed to get the device to a bathroom sink and the balloon has burst OR the person has not managed to get the device to a bathroom sink and they are now wet OR the person has one of 2 dummy units and has had the full experience.
  4. The person carries the device for 15 to 20 minutes anticipating a set of actions to occur which include the following:

A vibration alerting the person to the countdown beginning.

The countdown starting.

The servo motor actuating.

The balloon being pierced.

5. The person picks up and puts on the device.

6. The person reads the brief of what the piece is about and how the device functions.

7. The person approaches the exhibit stand and encounters a set of graphics and description of the piece.

This experience manual is written in reverse as we look at the final outcome first but it informs the steps that the experience takes and I can divulge from this the set of tasks I have to do to achieve this.

This week also seen the arrival of the majority of the electronic components I will use to build the device. I splurged on seeed studios kit as it is very easy to connect parts together and build out the physical part of the project. This will save me time which will be allocated to the actual coding of the device.

Thesis Development 2 : Recode

This week for the development of my thesis project I spent a day with a group of people from a company called Hollister. This company makes products for people who have to live with issues around continence care.

The research and innovation team from Hollister were carrying out a workshop to try to understand how to improve products. The group was made up of engineering and production management capabilities. There were few people with much human factors experience.

I brought the experiential experiment prototypes I had created with me. Randomly I selected people from the group and asked them to wear one of the following.

1: A hip bag with water balloons and a Xiaomi band watch component.

2: A Samsung smartwatch with the screen covered which is cable tied to the persons arm.

Out of a group of approximately 40 people I was able to carry out the experiential experiments with 10 and then ask them to give feedback to the group and give me written feedback at the end.

The objective of the experience experiments was to test my assumptions of what I felt were the feelings of living with the issue and whether the individual parts of the experience were replicating them.

There were a lot of useful insights from these experiments.

The pouch with the balloons and Xiaomi band watch component.

Nearly always conscious of the device.

Kept wanting to touch and feel for security.

Concerned at it bursting.

Never not aware of it.

Sitting differently.

Found it irritating and constantly wanted to remove it.

The Samsung smartwatch with covered screen cable tied to the arm.

The random vibrations always caught me off guard.

Hard to focus or refocus when the band vibrated. 

No way to control it which meant having to wait for it to stop.

The more the band vibrated the more i anticipated the next vibration.

Confusion due to not knowing why the band was vibrating.

Other feedback.

I also had the opportunity to ask this group of people had they considered this set of emotional experiences in relation to the products they created. There was very little understanding of these experiences and no way for them to fully understand them.

They found the experiments valuable as insights for their own work.

The other feedback for improvements was looking at how the device would be used.

Look at a device that can be held on the arm.

Look at a shoulder bag form factor.

Consider using only vibration as a indicator of the countdown timer.

Consider not using water balloons but perhaps some other type of interaction.

The feedback for this session was very important for the development of the physical artefact and I felt fortunate to get the opportunity to do it. It reinforced what some of my assumptions were and gave me some further ideas for the development of the product.

Takeaways :

1. The experiments were successful in triggering feelings relating to loss of control, concern, fear in many instances.

2. There are improvements that can be made to how someone will interact with the object.

3. The object aesthetic needs to be less intrusive or obvious. It’s a very individual or personal experience.

4. While a person is having the experience others may not be aware of it.

5. There is a need to consider how someone begins to interact with the experience.

What’s next?

With a clearer understanding that the project appears to be going in the right direction I can now do some work to create the visual identity of the device and an instruction manual of how it will work. I will also be able to order the components required to build the device.

Action items for this week :

1. Order parts for making the device.

2. Create some mood boards around interaction with the device and aesthetics.

3. Write the first draft of the instruction manual on use of the device.