Social Things_06 ↓ Third Prototype

Reminder: my prototyping process has lead me to an unexpected path; the path of re-creating a touch pad. I did think of directly buying one, but I wanted to get out from both the aesthetics and the shape which is pretty determined by its manufacturing and standardization – starting with the Apollo Computer in 1982.

Be it touch pads or touch screens – they both work with capacitive sensing.

It is very easy to get started with that kind of prototype with Arduino. Below – I used foil but you can pretty much use any conductive material.

Wiring: I connected (1) wire and (1) 1M resistor to respectively digital pins 3 and 4 directly on the Arduino. Both of them were attached to crocodiles wires holding on to a sheet of foil. I used an 1M resistor for its to only respond by direct touch, but you can use a higher resistor and it will respond by few inches.

LOW TECH TOUCH PAD

Code: With its, I used the Capacitive Sensing library which is great to quickly get it to work ↓↓↓

#include <CapacitiveSensor.h>

CapacitiveSensor cs_4_2 = CapacitiveSensor(4, 2);
void setup()
{
 cs_4_2.set_CS_AutocaL_Millis(0xFFFFFFFF);
 Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop()
{
 long start = millis();
 long total1 = cs_4_2.capacitiveSensor(30);

 Serial.print(millis() - start);
 Serial.print("\t");

 Serial.println(total1);

 delay(10);
}

By using the Serial Monitor, I could see the numbers going up when – I paused my finger; I paused it long enough; I pressed more than one finger. It is very straightforward, but it seems it needs stable conditions for its to work. There are copper tapes in the studio I can make use of instead of foil – it seems to be better in terms of stability.

It also might be better to switch to the MPR121, as I would be able to use different strips of foil in a easy and stable way. I didn’t use it previously because I thought MPR121 only had an on/off state, but I just need to time up these states according to Nicolas.

I also started to use MAX/MSP with Arduino, here is a simple patch visualizing the datas ↓↓↓

Social Things_06 ↓ Third Prototype

I’m actually thinking to use MAX/MSP to trigger sounds. More on that on my next prototype!

Social Things_05 ↓ Scroll Gesture

OK – I have to admit I spent the last three weeks a bit lost there. Despite the fact that I have tried different kind of sensors, none of them answered for me: it was about that precise interaction I wanted to pin down. After being through a slump I named inert-eraction, I had this “Euraka!” moment I still shall doubt every 15 minutes during any next brainstorming. Nevertheless, I got the missing element I was looking for my meditation device ↓↓↓

Yes, the scroll gesture – be it with the mouse, the touch pad and the smartphone. I’m not sure how exactly I ideated it – maybe when I was myself scrolling down and thought “I’m not moving much, am I?“, but I already had precise thoughts: I wanted an actual pause of movements without any physical sensors. The digital gestures match that! Why not using this gesture as the main interaction of my object?

Plus, the way we relentlessly stare at screens almost makes me think of a trance. For example, how many of us has been binging-watch series without noticing the hours passing by? Surfing on the Internet might then be a kind of non-conscious meditative state. The relationship between the perception of time is very interesting here, and the Slow Movement is indeed encouraging time mindfulness – I’m taking back my time lost in scroll-trance by scroll-meditating. Here it’s about the mean!

Thus, I need a touch pad to scroll on. When I explained my concept to Nicolas on this morning’s tutorial, he encouraged me to create a low-tech touch pad. He mentioned that I could use conductive fabric but advised me to first try out a DIY version using foil.

We talked on my thoughts of how these gestures are related to types of cognitive and psychological responses in their interactions, and how my device could end up creating another type of gesture. So far, I’m only aware of the research project and book Curious Rituals by Nicolas NovaKatherine Miyake, Nancy Kwon and Walton Chiu.

I found books that are more and less related, though: The Best Interface is No Interface by Golden Krishna, and Irresistible by Adam Alter (this article found on the Guardian is a good review of its). Both gives a different insight of the gestures we use with our digital devices; the first about how we get through the interface by designing better interactions, and the latter about how this interface get us addicted. Exactly the contrary of what I want to accomplish here, by taking the gesture down to another type of interaction.

Although I now know what I want my device to be, I still don’t know its output: sound, light, both? I mentioned the fact that I’m pretty influenced by James Turell in my works, and my wish to create an immersive experience using light.

Social Things_04 ↓ Second Prototype

So here the sensors I borrowed.

WiimoteYES/NO

I had to connect it using Bluetooth with OSC, added to MAX/MSP. Thank Nicolas who made these super useful patches ↓↓↓

Accelerometer – YES/NO

I wired it to the Arduino and I just read its values with Serial Monitor – nothing special but in case someone wants the code (I hope the picture is clear enough for the wiring part, I don’t have any plans to share sorry!)  ↓↓↓

int x;
int y;
int z;

void setup() {
 Serial.begin(9600);
}

void loop() {
 x = analogRead(A0);
 Serial.print("value x ");
 Serial.print(x);
 y = analogRead(A1);
 Serial.print("value y ");
 Serial.print(y);
 z = analogRead(A2);
 Serial.println("value z ");
 Serial.print(z);

 delay(10);
}

While I didn’t for sure make full use of them, the results I got weren’t satisfying. In fact, I don’t enjoy the handling of these – even though I did say I wanted the user to fully (inter)act with the sensors, aka with gestures. Both actually can be manipulated with small moves, but the in-air gestures aren’t something I envision as specifically meditative. It would have been great if my intention was to make a wearable device, but my idea of meditation is actually equal to a pause of movements –when you immerse in and face your mind.

I’m still lacking that specific interaction to go along with my meditation concept, and I have difficulty to see the output of its: I’m hesitating between a screen with generated visuals, or lights?

FMP_02 ↓ Litterature Review

I want to study the globalization of the world at the age of the World Wide Web (1991), esp. the question of cultural homogenization through it. The Internet is a key factor to understand the globalization in recent years. If the globalization started by the fair trades between markets, its consequences expanded to communications tools and eventually medias, and thus affected popular culture. Although the Internet has significantly broken down communication barriers between cultures, it might also contributed to the cultural uniformity of our societies.

Marshall McLuhan (1962) predicted the Internet as an extension of consciousness and describes how the Global Village as created by the electronic media to unify communities. However, it is important to points out that McLuhan didn’t link it to any uniformity adjective — arguing with my own statement, is the Internet really contributing to cultural homogenization? By exploring the question of Internet as a media, I want to reach an understanding of how globalization might shape the vision of our world.

This might be related to the ambiguity of the anonymous profile in the Internet. Marc Augé (1992) qualified non-places as spaces where humans can remain anonymous — like hotel rooms, airports or shopping malls — and retrieve their freedom.

However, in Society of Spectacle by Guy Debord (1967), he argues that social life has been replaced with its representation in the post-modern society. I’m assuming that both points of views offers a different stance on identity.

But if I go through the the Situationist theory and its use of flânerie, the construction of the digital identity also goes through surfing. Kenneth Goldsmith (2016) delivered an inspiration of its in his latest book “Wasting Time on the Internet”, which describes how aimless surfing can turn into creativity. I’m also thinking about the cognitive and emotional constructions of this behavior behind these actions.

Social Things_03 ↓ First Prototype

The advantage of this classe’s fast-paced schedule despite the irony of my Slow theme, is that even though I feel – and might certainly be right, that I’m ideating without any clear plans, I still have to get something out there.

If I don’t want to be literal – aka not doing anything with the phone and the notion of time, how would my object be possibly referring to the Slow Movement? Isn’t it why examples found are that literal?

No more doubts, here goes my first prototype! Lead by my contextual and knowledge research, I finally opted for a meditation device. The value of mindfulness advocated by the Slow Movement isn’t far-fetched from spirituality after all; I did find in my ethnographic research that some of my interviewees had activities such as meditation, others were into walking or biking. It depends but you got the idea: any mind-free activity.

For that, I assembled a DIY GRS sensor – aka taping down (2) wires to foil using Velcro, reacting to a LED with three states: NONE light when it isn’t used, GREEN when the person’s stress level is detected as normal, and RED when the person is presumably stressed. It won’t certainly work as such but I tried to convey my main idea at this moment: an object gaining its meaningfulness solely by the input of its user, else utterly useless.

Wiring: First, I followed Adafruit’s RGB LED tutorial. Then for the GRS part, I connected one of its two wires to ground through the breadboard and the other one to an analog pin through a 330Ω resistor on the breadboard.

Code: It’s super simple – read pins outputs and set LED colors with if variables ↓↓↓

const int redPin = 8;
const int greenPin = 9;
const int bluePin = 10;
const int GSR = A0;
int sensorValue;
boolean ledState = LOW;

void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600);
pinMode(redPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(greenPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(bluePin, OUTPUT);
}

void setColor (int red, int green, int blue) {
analogWrite(redPin, 255 - red);
analogWrite(greenPin, 255 - green);
analogWrite(bluePin, 255 - blue);
}

void loop() {
sensorValue = analogRead(GSR);
Serial.print("sensorValue = ");
Serial.println(sensorValue);
if (sensorValue > 0) {
setColor(255, 0, 0);
delay(500);
}
if (sensorValue > 5) {
Serial.println("Slow Down!");
setColor(0, 255, 0);
delay(500);
}
if (sensorValue > 10) {
Serial.println("Too High!");
setColor(0, 0, 255);
delay(500);
}
digitalWrite(redPin, ledState);
digitalWrite(greenPin, ledState);
digitalWrite(bluePin, ledState);
} 

I don’t think my object should be thought around utility, but I feel it lacks both character and content in its meditative aspect. You don’t need such a device to meditate, after all.

Well, I did found a project by KP Kaiser that makes it somewhat useful; read his blog posts here and there. He used others sensors from GRS such as Heart Rate and Skin Temperature, making it actually track your meditation level and linked it to an app. It’s pretty high-tech; and for these sensors to fully work, it’s better for the user to actually wear them.

From now, I’m thinking I might take a low-tech approach in order to focus solely on the (inter)action. I don’t want the user to wear any sensors but to actually uses them. I might have an idea while iterating the prototyping, hence I just borrowed others sensors to try them out – let’s see how it goes.